Holy Trinity Headington Quarry Oxford 1849–1999
Headington Forum’s Review of Books
BY STEPHANIE JENKINS
Published by Holy Trinity Church, 2000
Paperback, 164 pp., 57 black-and-white photographs
Although primarily celebrating Holy Trinity’s sesquicentenary last year, this well-illustrated book also gives a fascinating insight into Headington Quarry life, in general, over the last 150 years. One of the most interesting chapters is on Quarry School, whose log-books are kept at the school and are normally inaccessible.
Old Headington may once have been famous, but Quarry was notorious. Even a book published to commemorate its parish church makes no attempt to disguise the fact that until its gentrification in the twentieth century, Quarry was an outpost shunned by all respectable folk. The Quarry gate was a moral as well as a physical barrier, and the reason Headington Quarry got a church in 1849 was not because the villagers wanted one, but because the Church of England was in despair of their souls. The book quotes Bishop Wilberforce’s sermon at St Aldate’s in 1847, where he fulminated against the evils of Quarry, describing its ‘peculiar character of spiritual destitution’, and how its population had ‘long been cursed by the neighbourhood of Oxford vice’. Quarry was a short walk away from Oxford, but well hidden from the eyes of the proctors: the ‘secluded character of the hamlet’, according to the Bishop, lent itself to ‘evil deeds’. It sounds as though it wasn’t only washing that the Quarry women took in....
Today, we are not so squeamish
about such matters; it is more shocking for us is to learn than in 1901–2 the Negro and the Chinaman were unselfconsciously included in a list of ‘animals’ that the schoolchildren were studying, or that in 1912 their classroom was so cold that the ink was frozen in the inkwells. Much has changed in the last hundred and fifty years, and this book gives an excellent picture of Quarry’s development from savage outpost to middle-class suburb.
This book is not available in the shops, but can be obtained by post by sending a cheque for £5.80 (made payable to ‘Holy Trinity Church’) to 61 Collinwood Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8HN