The man behind the Morris Minor

Morris in his Morris Minor, 1931. By kind permission of the Warden and Fellows of Nuffield College, Oxford

The National Trust has been offered Nuffield Place, the 1930s home of William Morris, Viscount Nuffield, the owner of the Morris Motor Company. The Trustees of the National Trust have agreed to fund an endowment, on condition that the property is able to pay for itself within five years. We now need to raise an additional £600,000 in order to put appropriate staff and visitor facilities in place.

Nuffield Place

Lord Nuffield began his business making and repairing bicycles in 1895, with a starting capital of £4. He designed his first car in 1912 and was one of the first British carmakers to produce cars for the masses. By 1937 Morris Motors was the largest car manufacturer in Europe.

The hall at Nuffield Place. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Much of Lord Nuffield’s fortune went to good causes in healthcare, research and education. During his lifetime he gave away £30 million, the equivalent of £11 billion today.

The drawing room. ©NTPL/John Hammond

One of the institutions he founded, Nuffield College, Oxford, was given his house after his death in 1963. Nuffield College has now decided that the National Trust would be better placed to care for the house and open it to the public.

Tinkerer's cubby-hole: Lord Nuffield's miniature workshop. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The majority of Lord and Lady Nuffield’s furniture is still in the house, making it an early-to-mid-twentieth-century time capsule. Lord Nuffield loved clocks and he installed a miniature workshop in a cupboard in his bedroom where he would relieve his insomnia by doing delicate mechanical work.

More about the house and the appeal can be found here.

6 Responses to “The man behind the Morris Minor”

  1. CherryPie Says:

    What a fantastic opportunity, I hope the appeal raises enough money to enable the property to be acquired. It sounds like a fascinating place.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks for your support.

  3. graham daw Says:

    what is the appeal of grandfather clocks?i see three in these pictures.as decorative objects they always tall and teetering with only the clock face to jolly things up.and how often do they fall over?still nuffield’s story is worth telling.when i started grammar school in the sixties we did the nuffield science course. only metric measures.that must be why timber merchants now sell three metres of two by two(inches).

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Come now Graham, I am not a clock buff, but I can see three very obvious reasons to like longcase clocks: their appearance (elegant, humble, imposing, quaint, etc), their sound (the ticking as well as the chiming) and their technical interest (which I know nothing about, but which was obviously the reason Nuffield had them scattered all over his house) :)

    How interesting that your school used a Nuffield science course. I have just looked up some background about those courses: http://bit.ly/lVOxo3

  5. graham daw Says:

    well yes emile,and i can see that a single longcase in lakeland farmhouse would be a statement of wealth but today people just collect the things.they sit awkwardly in the corner as in nuffield’s sitting room or clutter passages.a rich frame for a painting,i think,adds a more sumptuous air to a room than these boxy giants.and would be cheaper.i very much enjoy your posts.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes for Nuffield his clocks seem to have been like glamorous toys – a bit like John Travolta’s airplane collection today, perhaps :)

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