AN 'EXTRAORDINARY' professor who devoted his life to the study of China has been honoured at his former home.

A plaque was unveiled at 3 Keble Terrace on Wednesday to commemorate James Legge, Oxford University's first professor of Chinese and a renowned translator.

Originally from Aberdeenshire, Mr Legge lived in the north Oxford address from 1875 until his death in 1897.

He came to the city after returning to the UK having spent more than 30 years as a missionary in Hong Kong.

Great grandson Christopher Legge, who was at the ceremony, said: "The family are very appreciative of the Oxfordshire blue plaque board for this honour.

"Legge has been overlooked in this country for too many years.

"We have a considerable amount of his paraphernalia. From writing tablets to locks of his hair to an incredible 2ft 6inch silver tablet given to him when he left Hong Kong and engraved by some of his Chinese friends and supporters.

"While there are stories passed on within the family, it is with regret that so much of his letters, writings and personnel effects were destroyed after his death."

He added he will visit Hong Kong later this year to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Anglo-Chinese college where his relative was headmaster.

Credited with making the great Chinese texts accessible to the west for the first time through his epic translations, James Legge strongly believed in the need for missionaries to be able to understand the Chinese culture.

He was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College and, in 1876, was appointed to the new Oxford chair of Chinese - the first nonconformist to be made a professor.

He also played an important part in the liberalisation of the university - promoting a new curriculum and examination system as well as religious toleration and women’s education.

Eda Forbes, secretary to the Oxfordshire blue plaques board, said his career 'epitomised' some of the most significant religious and intellectual changes of the Victorian era.

Representatives from the Chinese embassy attended the unveiling which was followed by a reception at the Oxford University Chinese Centre.

Ms Forbes added: "It was a great success and good to form links with Chinese colleagues who were very interested to find out more about the blue plaque scheme."