The history of Nuffield Place and its famous owner

The tool cabinet in Lord Nuffield's bedroom

A fantastic house and a fascinating life. Incredibly successful but a real philanthropist, Lord Nuffield built his Morris Motor Company from the ground up.

The man

William Morris was born in October 1877 in Worcester and moved to Oxford with his family aged three. At the age of 14 William left school and apprenticed in an Oxford bicycle shop to help support his family.
After a year, William asked for a pay rise which was denied so he promptly set up his own business, a bicycle repair company with just £4 capital. Morris’s boundless nervous energy and keen business sense enabled his rapid success and formed the basis for his continued fortunes.

From bicycle to car 

The bicycle repair business was a success, and in 1901 he acquired a shop on Oxford's High Street and began manufacturing motor cycles in 1903. Before long, Morris had set up a garage on Longwall street where he started hiring, selling and repairing cars. A practical man with a passion for engineering, Lord Nuffield was fascinated by how things were made,so it was a natural move from repairing, hiring and selling cars to manufacturing.
Lord Nuffield manufactured cars using 'bought in' components including a small 10-horsepower four-cylinder side-valve T-head engine by the firm of White & Poppe in Coventry. His first car was created in 1913. In August 1912,  Morris registered a new company, WRM Motors LTD, for the manufacturing of motor cars.

Some of the Morris Motors

1913 - Bullnose Morris
1915 - Morris Cowley
1926- Morris Oxford
1928 - Morris Minor
1948 - Morris Minor
1959 - Morris Mini Minor

The money

At the height of Lord Nuffield's career, he was reputedly earning £2,000 a day. However, he was never extravagant with his money. Questioned about his riches, he replied, “Well, you can only wear one suit at a time.” Naturally frugal, Lord Nuffield gave away much of his vast fortune. In total he donated £30 million to good causes, the equivalent of £700 million in today's money.

Morris honours

1917- OBE

1929 - Baronet, becoming Sir William Morris

1930 - Baron becoming Lord Nuffield

1934 - Viscount

1941 - GBE

1948 - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons

1958 - Companion of Honor


A modest home

Nuffield Place was Lord Nuffield’s home from 1933 until his death in 1963. Originally named Merrow Mount, the house was designed by Oswald Patridge Milne in 1914 for Sir John Bowring Wimble, a shipping magnate.

When Sir John Wimble died, his widow sold the house to William Morris. Having just been raised to peerage, Morris took his title from the local village and renamed the house Nuffield Place.