The Nuffield Place Tour Report
This tour was anticipated with relish and wonder! Pat and I would be in our 1934 P-type MG, and looking forward to giving it a long run – its first since a 300-mile tour of Ulster last year. Being an MG owner, we knew something of Lord Nuffield, but a visit to his home promised to be a real treat, and so it was.
The start was at Hiller’s Farm shop just south of Alcester, an interesting place with a gift shop and display gardens as well as the necessary character café, although we thought that tea at over two pounds a cup was very pricey. We signed on and met up with many good friends driving such wonderful automobiles as Porsche, Morgan, Jaguar, Lotus, Triumph Stag, and no fewer than ten MGs from a 1929 18/80, through our 1934 847cc P-type, a 1957 “A”, several “B”s and a 2004 “TF 160”, and rounded off nicely with three Mazda MX5s.
The weather was fine and bright as we set off on the 70-mile route to Nuffield Place which is on the A4130 (used to be the A423 – oh why do they change road numbers?) about 5 miles east of Wallingford. We toured along country lanes, a Roman road (Ryknild Street), rural main roads, some of the lovely Stratford to Oxford main road (A34 in my day), and even a few hundred yards of the A40! We pottered through some charming villages with romantic names such as Honeybourne, Weston sub Edge, Wheatley, Chippjng Campden and Paxford. We saw little traffic, the air was sweet, and we did not need the hood. Perhaps best of all, the little old MG needed no attention that day, apart, of course, from fuel for the journey home.
Nuffield Place was reached shortly before 1pm and we were surprised at what we found there. This National Trust property is almost as Lord Nuffield left it in the 1963, it had been his home for 30 years. It must, surely, reflect his character. It is not a fine or grand house, and many say that he spoilt it externally with his many extensions and alterations. Inside it is very “comfortable” in a 1950s way, but was packed with interest, including – astonishingly –the little workshop, packed with tools and bench, inside a cupboard in his bedroom! We saw the 1939 Wolsley car that Lady Nuffield drove, and one of the many “Iron Lungs” (made out of wood!) which Nuffield got the Morris works to manufacture for many hospitals. For a multi-millionaire, his home was quite modest – he knew how to spend his money, mostly by giving it away for educational or medical purposes.
After a delicious cream tea, and a wonderful and memorable day, we headed home at 4pm – a big thank you to Tony & Gail Harrison and the others that made it so enjoyable.
Jonathan and Pat Toulmin