Wednesday, 3rd May, 2023

Today we woke to glorious sunshine, and just for something different, we had breakfast at McDonald’s!

After breakfast. we drove to Nuffield Place. This was the home of William Morris, who invented the Morris car (a different William Morris from the textile designer). At one point, Morris was the richest man in the world. Despite being made a baron, and then a viscount, he lived in a four bedroom house at Nuffield. The house is now owned by the National trust. We arrived just in time for our booking for a tour at 10:30am. There were quite a few cars in the car park so we were very surprised to find that we were the only ones on the tour! Our guide was very knowledgeable and it was great to be able to ask questions and be shown things that interested us. William Morris invented the very famous Morris minor and the mini. Of course, MG also came originally from him. MG stands for Morris garages. Over his lifetime William Morris gave away what would amount to eleven billion pounds in today’s money.  Following successful surgery involving an appendectomy, a grateful Morris funded the first professor of anaesthetics at Oxford University. In the United States, he had seen some of the first iron lungs and how useful they were. When he returned to England, he designed his own version of the iron lung with some of the metal parts replaced with plywood, such that he could build them in his car factory. He then offered an iron lung to every hospital in the British Empire, together with enough money to train people how to use them. Unusually for a National Trust property, the house is exactly as he left it with all the furniture that he and his wife chose. It’s as though they left the day we arrived. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

When William Morris bought the house it was decorated in the "art deco" style. He and his wife were not fans but the bathroom fittings were left.

Although the house is quite small, the fittings were all of very good quality. We were told that this billiard table was one of the best that money could buy.

The oak panelling was all put in by William Morris.

William Morris funded the building and endowment of Nuffield College at Oxford University.

This was the complete staff of the Morris company in 1903. It started as a bicycle repair shop.

I bet you don't know what this is! (Find the answer below)

This couch is covered in a tapestry.

An ashtray

A souvenir of the 1937 coronation. Lady Nuffield (ie Mrs Morris) became friends with the then Queen Elizabeth (later to be known as the Queen Mother).

A signed photo of Queen Elizabeth (married to George VI).

William Morris loved clocks and there are several in the house.

Great taste in crockery!

The Dining Room was hardly used as Lady Nuffield found catering very stressful. William Morris bought the golf course next door and visitors were often entertained there. For small gatherings, the staff at the golf course would come to the house.

A detail from the photo of the dining table above. To find out what it is, scroll to the bottom of this page!

In 1956, this was a very large TV screen!

Although they had plenty of money, the Morris's were still careful not to waste it. This is Lady Nuffield's sewing box. It's made from a box which had plums in it!

William Morris was a great believer in sunlight. The glass in these windows was specially made so that ultraviolet light would pass through them.

This is William Morris's workshop - located in his bedroom! Apparently, he was not a good sleeper and would often potter around fixing clocks or whatever in the middle of the night!

William Morris's appendix - the importance of which is described above.

This is Phar Lap.

The robes worn by Morris at the 1937 coronation. Those worn by Lady Nuffield were the only robes not to be made with all the others. She had hers made by her choice of establishment. When she took them home, she adjusted them herself to make them fit properly!

One of the iron lungs made in the Morris factory.

This Wolseley was driven by Lady Nuffield. I did not know that Wolseley Motors were bought by Morris in 1927. My father had a 1951 Wolseley 6/80.

On leaving Nuffield Place, we drove just a few miles to Greys Court, a Tudor country house. It is another National Trust property and fairly small. The remains of a medieval castle (built around 1347) are also on the site. We enjoyed a wander around the house and then had lunch at the tearooms. At one stage, the mother of Ian Fleming the author, lived in the house.

Everywhere we go, Spring is literally erupting! The new leaves on the trees are very beautiful.

Most of the people who staff National Trust properties are volunteers. This lady bakes biscuits in the Greys Court Kitchen.

After a wander around the garden, we headed towards Basildon Park, which is about half an hour’s drive from Greys Court. This is NOT a small house! Basildon has had a chequered career as you can see by clicking on the link above. Although only the rooms on the first floor were open, tt was another worthwhile visit. We were lucky to see Basildon Park because it had only just reopened after being closed for several weeks for the filming of the Netflix series "Bridgerton".

Blue bells are starting to appear. This patch was along the side of the road as we travelled.

Decorations for the Corination appear at random places.

It seems that every little town and village is planning some sort of celebration!

A painting of St John the Evngelist. Note the eagle on the right (his symbol in art).

St Paul

Looking up at a chandelier

Blossom trees are everywhere!

We then travelled back to Oxford for Evensng at Christchurch Cathedral. This time, the choristers were the Frideswide Voices (the cathedral girls choir) singing with the men. The Responses were by Gull, the canticles were Aston in F and the anthem was "Let the People Praise Thee, O God" by William Mathias. This was written for the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. It's a favourite - have a listen if you don't know it! The organ voluntary was "Recessional", also by William Mathias. The standard of the music was, once again, excellent!

Following Evensong we went St Peter's College Chapel for a performance of Mozart's opera "Le nozze di Figaro" (The Marriage of Figaro). This was performed by Oxford music students with very limited scenery and props but it was very well done indeed. We felt that we might well be listening to the debut perfomances of, not one but several, future opera stars.

The tiles on the floor had images of symbols of St Peter. (The cock because of the story of Peter denying Christ three times before the cock crew and the upsidedown cross because tradition has it that Peter was crucified upsidedown).

Some of the cast of "The Marriage of Figaro" taking a bow.

After such a big day, we arrived back at our accommodation totally exhausted so it was straight to bed!


Q1 It's an ashtray and match holder. To light your cigarette, you pulled one of the matches down and it would light. Apparently, you had to do it quickly or all the matches would ignite!

Q2 It's an ashtray. Yes, on the dining table! William Morris was a heavy smoker but he lived to 85 anyway!

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