Ancient Monuments

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Carfax Conduit, 540m south west of Nuneham House

A Scheduled Monument in Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.6753 / 51°40'30"N

Longitude: -1.2244 / 1°13'27"W

OS Eastings: 453726.96836

OS Northings: 197671.335208

OS Grid: SU537976

Mapcode National: GBR 8ZY.WTB

Mapcode Global: VHCY7.Q5K2

Entry Name: Carfax Conduit, 540m south west of Nuneham House

Scheduled Date: 9 April 1951

Last Amended: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020965

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30836

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Nuneham Courtenay

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Marsh Baldon with Toot Baldon and Nuneham Courtenay

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the remains of an ornate conduit house situated in
Nuneham Park, 540m south west of Nuneham House, close to the east bank of
the River Thames. The conduit has the outward appearance of a Renaissance
version of a Gothic market cross with a solid base. It was originally
erected in Carfax in Oxford in about 1600 where it formed part of a gift
of several conduit houses and a pipe system given to the city by Otho
Nicholson to provide clean drinking water. His coat of arms and initials
form part of the ornamentation on the structure. This conduit house, which
is a Listed Building Grade I, was constructed in the form of a cross above
ground to blend in to its original location as a focal structure at a
In 1786 traffic congestion led the University authorities to widen the
road and remove the conduit. The structure was offered to Lord Harcourt,
who had it re-erected on its present site in the grounds of his estate. He
instructed William Mason to design a new plinth for the cross, replacing
the original tank house. The result was a park ornament on a site
originally intended for a Gothic tower. In 1947 the monument was bought,
along with the estate, by the University of Oxford and it reverted to its
previous owners.
Another survival of Otho Nicholson's public water supply system is the
North Hinksey conduit house, which is a Listed Building Grade II* and the
subject of a separate scheduling. It lies in its original position on a
hillside outside the City of Oxford. The building contains a water tank
and a well which formerly provided water to the Carfax Conduit in its
original location in Oxford.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Conduit houses form the most visible structures within early clean water
systems. They mainly occur on the line of piped water from springs or
rivers on land above towns which were gravity fed with water from them.
The conduit houses act as storage tanks and provide reservoirs to give
enough head of water to feed the system. The water system for Oxford was
set up as a gift soon after 1600.
Carfax Conduit formed part of a gravity-fed system intended by Otho
Nicholson to provide clean drinking water to the City of Oxford from the
North Hinksey Conduit. Although most of the original system (built
1610-1616) has been replaced or built over, it was a fine example of early
civic clean water provision and marks an important stage in the
development of the city.
Despite having been moved and re-erected in the 18th century, Carfax
Conduit represents an important part of Nicholson's system. Its
significance was already apparent in 1786, when it was saved and
re-erected as both an important piece of civic history and a fine
ornamental structure.

Source: Historic England


PRN 3512, Conduit, Folly, (1991)
SCHEDULING 28132, JEFFERY, PAUL , North Hinksey Conduit House, (1996)
Title: 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey sheet SU 59 NW
Source Date: 1986
SU 59 NW

Source: Historic England

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