The perambulation of the Municipal Boundary of Oxford in 1892


This perambulation took place on Wednesday 17 August 1892 led by the retiring Mayor, Frederick Ansell.

By this period the perambulation no longer took place at the end of each Mayor's yearly term of office, and it had not taken place since the perambulation by Robert Buckell six years before on 26 August 1886 (with new boundary stones in Marston and Wolvercote put up earlier that year immortalizing his name).

By 1892 a revised perambulation was long overdue, as in 1889 there had been a big change boundaries to the east of the city, when Oxford expanded into Headington, Cowley, and Iffley as far as the Boundary Brook. New boundary stones were set up in the east of the city earlier that year, this time bearing Ansell's name.

A long report appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 20 August 1892 on the walking (and some punting) of the city boundary three days earlier, and the route is summarized below. The Mayor, Sheriff, and Aldermen set out from the Town Hall at 8am, and it was after 9pm when the proceedings (with three refreshment stops) terminated there. The route was as follows:

  • The Mayor, Sheriff, and Aldermen departed from the Town Hall at 9am, fully robed and led by Police Band
  • They walked eastwards along the High Street and St Clement's Street
  • They turned left into the Marston Road, stopping at a stone in the hedge on the Headington side opposite King's Mill Lane
  • The council contingent then removed their robes in the Marston Road lodge of Headington Hill Hall, (This lodge has been demolished, but its gate can still be seen.)
  • They then cut through Morrell's field to a boundary stone, and then on to the path that runs up the back of Headington Hill Hall.
  • They went up the hill, crossed Pullen's Lane, and took the "green lane" (Cuckoo Lane) to the Boundary Brook, which ran jjust east of the present Headley Way, where they would have seen this new boundary stone.
  • They then passed through the garden of Davenport Lodge (the Headington School house near the present Headley Way, where the Boundary Brook now runs southwards underground).
  • They crossed the London Road and must have seen this new boundary stone. They then travelled between a field of oats and “the ditch”. (This ditch is the Boundary Brook, whose former name was the Moors Ditch). The brook, which has been culverted at this point, now divides Brookside on the Headington side from Valentia Road on the Oxford side.
  • They then turned right and reached Cheney Lane.
  • They went around the back of the Warneford Asylum near Lye Hill.
  • They then reached what was known as “Van Dieman's Land”.
  • They crossed the stream on Cowley Marsh and passed along Crescent Road to the Cowley Road
  • They continue to follow the Boundary Brook over to Iffley. (This part of the brook has been rerouted: it was then further west.)
  • They reached the River Thames at the Weirs Mill, negotiating hedges and ditches. Some of the group passed around the back stream by punt to the island.
  • They reached the Abingdon Road just south of the Fox & Hounds pub at Cold Harbour, and proceeded to Towle's Mill. (John Towle had been Mayor of Oxford in 1856/7.)
  • They followed the boundary northwards along the main mill stream and then along the Great Western Railway goods line.
  • At Hog Acre Ditch they passed over the fields towards Ferry Hinksey and the river.
  • They went up the river to the boundary stone between HInksey and Botley, crossing the osier pool.

They then had refreshments at Botley Mill and were punted to Botley Bridge.

Below: the group near Botley Bridge in 1892 (Historic England photograph by Henry Taunt:

  • From Botley Bridge they walked along the edge of the stream until they reached the mill head.
  • They then took the punts up to Seacourt.
  • They walked on the eastern side of Godstow Road until they reached Wytham Road.
  • After visiting the small island, they followed the towpath to Godstow Bridge and went through The Trout pub, which straddled the city boundary, visiting this stone.
  • They went through the garden and field near The Trout, and came to the toll bridge.
  • They visited a stone in Collet's garden, and then came to Port Meadow.
  • They followed the ditch that divides Port Meadow from Wolvercote Common, and the Vicar of Wolvercote protested that the Mayor and his procession were walking on the Wolvercote side of the ditch rather than the Oxford one.

(Lunch, followed by speeches, at 2pm in a marquee near the Trap Grounds

  • They left Port Meadow via the Trap Grounds and crossed the Great Western Railway, the London & North Western Railway, and the canal to Woodstock Road.
  • They proceeded to the boundary fence of Canon Bellairs (who lived at Apsley Paddox on the Banbury Road) and then moved from the Woodstock to the Banbury Road via Summertown House, the home of Councillor Francis Twining (Mayor in  1905/6).

(Tea at Sunnymead House on the Banbury Road, the home of Alfred Wheeler for the Mayor and his company, which totalled about a hundred at this point)

  • They then proceeded to Sunnymead. Here the boundary became the centre of the River Cherwell, so they punted down the river (with the punt capsizing at one point).
  • When their punt reached the Marston Ferry, they discovered that the ferry had also just capsized with about 25 people on board.
  • They continued to punt down the river to King's Mill, and then walked along Mesopotamia.
  • The police band then accompanied them back to the Town Hall.
Stephanie Jenkins