A HISTORIC manor house north of Oxford is set to be sold off. Yarnton Manor, currently the headquarters for the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, will be vacated next year.

The centre, which is a recognised independent centre of Oxford University, says it wants to be closer to the city centre.

This will allow it to integrate its teaching and research into the university and “provide a new base” for its public outreach work.

In a statement, the centre said: “The move will greatly benefit the operation of the international research groups convened by the centre under the aegis of the Oxford Seminars in Advanced Jewish Studies, providing these researchers with office space closer both to those teaching in Jewish studies and related fields in the university and to the resources of the Bodleian Library.

“It is expected that the confidential discussions currently in train between the centre and the university, about the city centre location of the centre’s new accommodation, will be completed early in 2014, and an announcement of the location will be made then.”

Originally based in Pusey Lane, the centre was founded by Dr David Patterson in 1972.

In 1973, it moved into Yarnton Manor which was owned by the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust until 1991 when a donation by philanthropist Felix Posen allowed the centre to buy the estate.

Prof Martin Goodman, the acting president of the centre, has been reported as saying the sale of Yarnton Manor, which is Grade II* listed, would create an endowment fund large enough for the centre to do all of its academic activities.

He said: “Being able to work from the interest of our endowment will give us a huge amount of freedom to raise funds for other exciting projects rather than raising money to cover our expenses, which we have done for 40 years.

“We have an idea of places which would be really good for us to move to and we are in the process of discussions as to where we will end up.”

Neither Oxford University, or think tank the JCD International Centre for Community development, which is also based at Yarnton Manor, wanted to comment on the plans.

Oxford has the best-documented medieval Jewish community in the world. The Jews migrated up the River Thames to the city from around 1080 and established a significant and thriving community here.

The medieval Jewish quarter was situated in today’s St Aldate’s, then called the Great Jewry.

Beneath the houses of the quarter, where now Santander Bank, Oxford Town Hall and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau are located, a network of tunnels connected vaulted basements of all the Jewish houses.


YARNTON Manor was built by Sir Thomas Spencer in 1611 and was used as a military hospital for the King’s troops during the Civil War.

In 1695, it was sold to Sir Robert Dashwood who removed most of its stone to build his own home at Kirtlington Park – leading the manor in a “ruinated condition” until 1897 when it was purchased by HR Franklin who had it restored.