Tuesday 1 December 2009

Oxford Council At It Again

I received an interesting email today that joins some more dots regarding my life and connections. There are a few things going on in the background that I can't comment on (not appropriate, far too early) but if anything comes of them it's like a life's narrative keeps getting wrapped around.

Some time ago I assisted Andrew Linzey regarding a little bit in the way of graphics and publicity opposing a development at Iffley Road in Oxford. It seems this was all unsuccessful, but now because of other material I have written I am being made aware of more unwelcome development in the same area.

I was looking at the Harris Manchester website the other day, just pondering whether I could go there and do something new, academic, and sort of head off on a new road. I don't know. Just pondering. And here comes this email:

Dear Mr. Worsfold,

It has been exciting today to discover the information you have gathered and posted on the internet about Ulrich Vernon Herford (Bp. of Mercia & Middlesex) as a large group of concerned locals here in East Oxford are trying desperately to prevent the nearly total demolition of the Arts & Crafts house that he commissioned and lived in for a few years at 190 Iffley Rd when he moved from North Oxford.

This is just four doors from the Greyfriars Church on the Jackdaw Lane corner and quite close to the new site for the University's indoor tennis centre which, as you possibly know, was recently approved by the City Council.

We have been doing battle with the current owner/potential developer of 190 Iffley Rd for several years to save the house. This is his third application to replace the original building on a speculative basis with a block of student bedsits. The second application went to a Public Inquiry and was rejected by the Inspector who considered that the building made a significant contribution to that part of the Iffley Rd Conservation Area. This, unfortunately, is now being ignored by local councillors and planning officers.

Apart from the undoubted architectural and historical attributes of the house we are anxious to establish the importance of Bp. Herford and especially his role in the intellectual, religious and social movements in Oxford. We see that he studied at Manchester College and had a church on Percy St. in East Oxford and that Pusey House has some of his papers.

We'll be extremely grateful for any other information you could provide or guide us to beyond what is already on your website and blog. The "virtual demolition" application was approved by Oxford City Council 's Strategic Development Control Committee on Wednesday night last so we have to act with great haste if it is to be saved.

As you are extremely well informed about him but don't mention the house at 190 I'm wondering if you were aware of the connection. I live at the guesthouse at [removed] and would be really pleased if you are able to visit and stay a few days, at no cost , to help us with our research.

We lost on the indoor tennis court on Iffley Rd but are making bold efforts to save the Bishop's house. Hoping you can help us...

The answer is, I didn't know he was there, and my collection of material about Bishop Herford was made using connections at the time and simply scraping information from wherever it came. Interestingly Ulric Von Herford was an early Animal Rights person. I am not sure I can add any more information. It is interesting that Pusey House has some papers; some others may be buried deep at Harris Manchester College or even at Dr Williams' Library in London (the old site for Manchester College when in London). The Unitarian Historical Society may have more information, though probably on the Herford family (father, brothers) while they were Unitarian ministers because a short presentation I have seen leaves Ulric at the point he moves on.

Anyway, I have a funeral to attend and take first...

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