Visit to Nuffield Place

We went yesterday to see the home of William Morris, Lord Nuffield, and his wife Elizabeth (nee Anstey). It’s a National Trust property, passed to them by Nuffield College.

The house was built in 1914 and enlarged by the Morrises in 1933. The Independent has an article about the house and contents. My sister was reminded of our step-grandmother’s house, built in the 1920s, and thought it even smelt the same.

Definitely worth seeing if you’re interested in domestic life of this period – say the 1920s to 1950s (though Nuffield didn’t die until 1963). Our visit would have been more pleasurable had the docents not been so eager to tell us things when we’d rather have looked on our own at least initially. And I’d have liked a bit more about Elizabeth Morris, their joint enthusiasm for cycling, and her life before and after marriage. There’s a bit about her on pp7-8 of this biography from Nuffield International (which seems to be one of his philanthropical endeavours, focussed on farming).

I’m not sure that Nuffield sounds a very pleasant chap, rather authoritarian as you might expect. I feel I have to note that in 2015 an elderly woman went to the police and reported being abused by him over a long period of time as a child and young woman. The only account of this online apart from some blogs is on the DM newspaper so I’m not going to link to that.

In the house I was especially interested in the books, which are apparently the original ones belonging to the Morrises. There are bookcases in four or five rooms with a big range of books. Engineering, social science, biography, religion, novels, exploration. Lots of forgotten writers. Several books relating to millionaires, as you can see on my list. Lord Nuffield’s own bathroom has a lot of books on medicine and another, smaller, bookcase which looked as if it was full of brightly-jacketed possibly cheesy novels.

Here are some of the books I noted:

(Dates are to first publication of the book, taken from the BL, Bodleian or Wikipedia. Images are from online sources and not necessarily the same editions as at Nuffield Place. Author links are mostly to Wikipedia.)

Fifty Years in the Motor Trade. I didn’t write down the author of this one and can’t find it in the BL or Bodleian catalogues, or through Google. Maybe self-published?
Son by Adoption: A Story of Seventy Years Ago, Mrs Edward Whalley-Tooker (1955). Nothing online about her, apart from a mention of one other book, a school story. Maybe the wife of the cricketer Edward Whalley-Tooker?

Cover of Son by Adoption

Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police, Sir John Moylan (1929).
The Commander Shall …, Humfrey Jordan (1933). “The absorbing, authentic story of a Captain’s first voyage to Australia as commander of a fast ocean liner,” according to eBay.

Cover of The Commander Shall

Voices from the Past, B Paul (can’t find this).
Mr. Wycherley’s Wards, L[izzie] Allen Harker (1912). This book is online at Gutenberg. There’s a review at Goodreads.
Matron of Guy’s, Emily MacManus (1956). Interesting article on her here – I like the detail about her hair after her death.
The Adventures of Imshi: a two-seater in search of the sun, John Prioleau (1922). Motoring correspondent for the Spectator – he also wrote Motoring for Women (1925).
A Life Worth Living: some phases of an Englishman, CB Fry (1939).
Recollections of a Savage, Edwin A Ward (1923). Online at Archive.org. Travel and artistic life.

Cover of  Recollections of a Savage

Leaves from My Life: Reminiscences by the famous Manipulative Surgeon, Sir Herbert A Baker (1927).
Lasseter’s Last Ride: An epic of Central Australian gold discovery, Ion Llewellyn Idriess (1931). Review here.

Cover of Lasseter's Last Ride

A Millionaire of Yesterday, E. Phillips Oppenheim (1900). Online at Gutenberg.
T. Tembaron, Frances Hodgson-Burnett (and one of my own favourites) (1913).
Joseph Fels: his life-work, Mary Fels (1916). Fels was “an American soap manufacturer, millionaire, and philanthropist”.

On Lady Nuffield’s bedside table were The Tall Stranger by DE Stevenson (1957 – see my review) and a book on etiquette – I hope she didn’t actually feel the need to have the latter by her bed.

One room is staged as a study-bedroom from the 1960s, when students from Nuffield College used it, complete with a copy of Family and Kinship in East London (1957).

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