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Old Marston Parish Council

Old Marston Village

Below are some random pictures past and present of the village part of the parish. We also have a large archive of older pictures as well.

Our Village History

The village developed along a ridge of river grave! overlying Oxford clay which surrounds the settlement and gives rise to the name Marshtown/Marston. The parish was included in the Manor of Headington, and Court Place (built early 017th) in Oxford Road was the demesne, or home farm and the manorial records were kept there. In 1279 the Hundred Rolls mention a ferry, probably near, what is now. the Victoria Arms, its successor running until the 1950s, and a mill at the north end of Mill Lane (Sescutt Farm) at the confluence of Bayswater Brook and the Cherwell.

From the 014th Oriel, Magdalen, Corpus Christ and Brazenose Colleges appear as land owners. Only Brazenose still owns land here today, mainly south of the Marston Ferry Road. In the C17th many of the stone houses were built including Mansion House, Church Farm, Cross Farm, Cannons Farm, Alan Court, Cross Cottage and the Orchard, all being of the long house type with a through passage. There were other smaller houses built of stone at this time, some of which remain.

In the C18th the Mansion House became a poor house, but in 1834 the Sims family divided it into Cromwell House and the Manor House, the latter being remodelled with an ashlar front. Together with the building of Bryher Cottage, Boults Lodge, Colthern's Farm and cottages in Mill lane, this was the last stone construction in Marston. From this time, locally made brick and slate were used and there were several skilled builders living in the village.

For many centuries there was a cross at the junction of Oxford Road, Mill Lane and Elsfield Road. It had lost its top cross centuries before, but the pedestal and upright were removed in 1832. There are several paintings from the early C19th showing this in place.

Land ownership has had a big impact on keeping a rural feel to the village. Together with the Brazenose land to the south, Oxford Preservation Trust owns land either side of the Marston Ferry Road and to the north of that the City own the old Almonds Farm. Agricultural activities continue along this strip bordering the Cherwell. Eastwards, the City owns the allotments and sports fields, while a few paddocks are held by the OPT. All the surrounding land is Green belt. the inner edge of which was confirmed in the 1990s

For centuries, working life centred on small farms producing food for the city - particularly dairying for which the land is best suited. In the smaller cottages were found supporting trades - labourers, field workers, laundresses and sempstresses. Many of these cottages were removed in the first half of the C20th. In the words of Sir George Clark (C19th) 'Marston became a village where no one lived who pretended to the rank of gentleman'.

But things began to change between the wars in the C20th. For centuries, the only ways to Oxford were over the ferry and across the fields, or down the Marston Road and over Magdalen Bridge. In the 1930s the A40 was built providing another bridge across the Cherwell and the gap between New and Old Marston began to be filled with houses. In the 1970s, the Marston Ferry Road provided easy access for London commuters to reach the station, and the arrival of the still growing hospital complex on Headington Hill meant the influx of medical professionals looking for a convenient place to live. Marston has changed from being a rather nondescript little village on the edge of the city, to being an attractive place with high property values. Adapted from a talk given by Lucy Hughes in a talk to the Civic Society 2007