ARRIVING at Nuffield Place, you expect a wealth of interior splendour suitable for the man whose Morris car empire was second only to that of Henry Ford and who gave away £11bn to good causes.

But Nuffield Place, at Huntercombe, near Wallingford, may dash a few expectations when visitors are greeted with threadbare carpets and bedroom floors covered in what looks like car mats.

Yet the property remains a fascinating artefact for learning about the real William Morris, who bought the house in 1933 and lived there until his death in 1963.

Despite their considerable personal wealth, Lord Nuffield and his wife Elizabeth lived a modest lifestyle, and the contents of the house are largely simple and unassuming.

Furnished in the fashion of the 1930s, with reproduction furniture, flower paintings and tapestry work, his home makeover efforts extended to a billiard room and central heating.

Robes worn to official functions, personal letters, cartoons and gifts such as a matchbox in the shape of a car radiator and cufflinks lie where they were left.

In his bedroom, the carpet is threadbare, a makeshift lamp rigged up by the man himself hanging over a bed with a blocked up fireplace as its headboard. You open a cupboard door expecting to face a line of made-to-measure suits – instead you are greeted by an array of tools, testament to Lord Nuffield’s love of mechanics and midnight tinkering.

Strangest of all, Lord Nuffield’s appendix sits pickled in a bottle, next to a mechanical toy bear.

Lord Nuffield would often sleep in a small sunroom because of his belief it maintained good health, which would explain the appearance of an ultra-violet lamp of the type he presented to RAF nightfighter stations and wartime assembly-line workers to make up for the loss of light.

Meanwhile, an iron lung, a device which altered pressure on the rib cage to make the lungs inflate and deflate, sits in one of the bathrooms, symbolising Lord Nuffield’s pledge to provide one for every hospital in the Commonwealth which requested one.

The gardens, however, are spectacular, a mass of colour and finely cut grass with immaculate edges.

While volunteers from the Friends of Nuffield Place previously led tours around the house, the property has not opened in recent years.

Now the National Trust is bidding to raise £600,000 for visitor facilities after the house was donated by Nuffield College, the Oxford University seat of learning founded by the peer.

The trust said it will have to pay for itself within five years.

College bursar Gwilym Hughes said: “Nuffield College has always been incredibly proud of its founder, Lord Nuffield, whose foresight led to our being the first graduate college in Oxford and the first to admit women equally with men.

“By gifting Lord Nuffield’s home to the National Trust we will be able to share the story of this great 20th century figure with a wider public.”