History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Home of William Morris, Lord Nuffield, maker of the Morris Motor Car
Not to be confused with the 'other' William Morris who helped popularise the Arts and Crafts Movement, Lord Nuffield began his career as a bicycle repairman. He soon graduated to designing and selling his own bicycles from a location on Oxford High Street. From there he branched into renting and repairing motorcycles and motorcars, establishing a shop at Longwall, Oxford in 1902. Morris was an inveterate tinkerer; and he rightly figured he could improve on the design of the cars he repaired.
He began to design and build his own vehicles, the most famous being the 'Bullnose' Morris, so-named for its distinctively bulbous appearance. The success of the Morris motor cars made Morris enormously wealthy, but that wealth never seemed to turn his head. He maintained a very simple lifestyle, preferring to put his wealth to work to benefit others, particularly through the Nuffield Foundation which he established in 1943. He gave the Foundation £10 million to help promote social welfare and education. He founded Nuffield College at Oxford University, and poured money into philanthropic projects. When Lord Nuffield died in 1963 his house passed to Nuffield College, and eventually to the National Trust. His legacy can perhaps be summed up best by the headline of an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on 27 April, 2011 announcing the opening of Nuffield Place to the public; 'William Morris: the humble lifestyle of Britain's greatest philanthropist revealed'.
Morris chose this particular location for his residence for one very good reason; it was close to a golf course, and he loved his golf. He also loved to tinker and invent, and you can see his wonderfully jumbled personal workbench, ingeniously crammed into a closet in his bedroom, literally only a few steps from his bed.
I knew the rough outline of Lord Nuffield's life before we visited the house, but I came away with a real appreciation of this remarkable man and his life. The house is small, but you really can't hurry through it; it demands to be enjoyed at leisure. The volunteer room guides were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. We started our visit by listening to a short talk on Morris, his early life, and the growth of his commercial empire. We also learned the fascinating story of a celebrated - and unsuccessful - attempt to kidnap him. An account of the bungled kidnapping could be read in a period newspaper laid out in the sitting room where we began our tour.
About Nuffield Place
Address: Huntercombe, Nuffield, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, England, RG9 5RY
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: Signposted on the A4130 in Nuffield village, 2 miles west of Nettlebed and 5 miles west of Henley-on-Thames. Ample free parking at the house.
Website: Nuffield Place
Phone: 01491 641224
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Greys Court - 4 miles (Garden)
Stonor Park - 4 miles (Historic House)
Newnham Murren, St Mary's Church - 4.2 miles (Historic Church)
Mongewell, St John's Church - 4.2 miles (Historic Church)
North Stoke, St Mary's Church - 4.4 miles (Historic Church)
Wallingford, St Peter's Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church)
Wallingford, St Leonard's Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church)
Wallingford Castle - 4.5 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Nuffield Place: