William Morris

William Morris

Bicycle & motor manufacturer of the early C20th, founded Morris Motors & later became a benefactor to medicine & education. Lived in Nuffield, Oxon.

Link with the Chilterns

Lived in Nuffield, Oxfordshire. He took this name as his title – Baron, later Viscount, Nuffield


July 1st 1877


January 5th 1963


William Richard Morris was born in Worcester in 1877 and grew up in a terraced house in Cowley, Oxford, from 1880.

At the age of 16 he started a cycle manufacture and repair shop in his family’s garden shed with £4 capital, expanding into motorcycles and then a motor car garage on Longwall Street where he designed the Bullnose Morris car (the premises can still be seen).

Morris moved production to a disused college in Cowley before he established the Morris works at Cowley on the edge of the city, that became (with Austin) the British Motor Corporation in 1952. His Morris Motors once made half the cars sold in Britain. He also founded MG and is best known for the Morris Minor, which brought mass-produced motor manufacturing to Britain and helped to transform 20th century life.

He became a great industrialist and a successful entrepreneur, was regarded as a fair employer and provided social facilities for his wokers, many of whom cycled to and from the car factory every day and never owned a car.

William Morris became Lord Nuffield in 1934 and Viscount Nuffield in 1938.

His lasting influence was as a philanthropist, a major benefactor to Oxford City and University, most of all to medicine. Through him, the village of Nuffield on the edge of the Chilterns scarp gives its name to a major charitable foundation supporting science and medicine (the Nuffield Foundation) which gives out millions of pounds every year. He also established Nuffield College in Oxford and an orthopaedic hospital.

Further Information

Nuffield Place features in the book England’s 1000 Best Houses by Simon Jenkins. Published by Allen Lane 2003.

The Life of Lord Nuffield: a study in enterprise and benevolence by PWS Andrews and Elizabeth Brunner. Published in 1955 by Blackwells.


RG9 5RY  Grid reference SU679879

What you can visit

Nuffield Place at Huntercombe near Nuffield, where Morris lived from 1933 until his death in 1963, is a rare example of a complete, furnished upper-middle class 1930s home. In 2011 it was acquired by the National Trust and it is now open to the public from Wednesday – Sunday every week, 11am – 5pm.  The House closes for the winter.