Queer Places:
1 Bardwell Rd, Oxford OX2 6SU, UK
North End, 44 Jack Straw's Ln, Headington, Oxford OX3 0DW, UK
Headington Cemetery, Dunstan Rd, Headington, Oxford OX3 9BY, UK

Lady Averil Dorothy Nicholl Sanderson Furniss (1873 – November 26, 1962) was an architect and a member of the Labour party. She opened a hostel for female students at Ruskin College, Oxford, in 1950. In 1902 she married Lord Henry Sanderson Furniss and she and her husband were both active members of the Labour Party.

Averil Dorothy Nicholl was the daughter of Henry Frederick Nicholl of Twyford and Dora Mary Eddis. On 23 January 1902 she married Henry Sanderson Furniss (1868-1939), the elder son of the barrister Thomas Sanderson Furniss (1833–1912) and his wife (and second cousin) Mary Sanderson (d.1899). He was a lecturer at Ruskin College in Walton Street, Oxford from 1907 to 1916, and its Principal from 1916 to 1925. They had no children.  

The Women’s Labour League initiated a campaign on housing design in October 1917 led by Sanderson Furniss that linked up with other groups such as the Women’s Co-Operative Guild to solicit working-class women’s views on post-war housing. 

In 1919, Averil Sanderson Furniss and Marion Phillips published The Working Woman’s House, a short booklet liberally illustrated with plans and photographs, which offered a feminine perspective on contemporary debates about the physical form of post-war reconstruction. The introduction described two contradictory perceptions about the gendering of the home: a long-held belief that it was a ‘woman’s place’ and the more recent masculine appropriation of domestic space summarised by Prime Minister Lloyd George’s call for new houses ‘fit for heroes to live in’. In response, the authors suggested that post-war reconstruction offered an opportunity for these two positions to be combined. A woman, they declared, now wants her house to be fit for a hero to live in, but she also wants to free herself from some of that continuous toil which is the result of the bad housing conditions of the past, and has prevented her from taking her full share of work as a citizen, wife and mother. Compared to earlier female housing campaigners such as Octavia Hill, Sanderson Furniss and Phillips spoke from a strong position.

Following his retirement in 1925, Henry Sanderson Furniss built a house at 44 Jack Straw's Lane. He explains in his memoirs why he chose to move up to Headington: It would be difficult to find a worse climate than that of Oxford, lying, as it does, low down in the valley of the Thames. But round the city and in its near neighbourhood are delightful hills, and on one of these, Headington Hill, some friends of ours were selling plots of land on their estate. We had never regarded 1 Bardwell Road as anything but a temporary arrangement, and now that there was nothing to make it necessary for us to live in the heart of the city, we determined to make one more experiment in house-building, to the great amusement of our friends, amongst whom our constant removals and building operations had become a sort of standing joke. When in search of a name for the new house we debated the possibility of finding something which would be a link with Ruskin College. “Why not,” said my friend Barratt Brown, who succeeded me as principal, “call it 'Unto this Last'!” However, we finally contented ourselves with the more prosaic “North End”. Just before Christmas [1925] we moved into our new house, North End, Headington Hill. The house is at the far end of Pullen's Lane, a lane which takes its name from an old tree which was planted in the seventeenth century by Josiah Pullen, vice-principal of my college — Hertford. It was called “Joe Pullen's Tree”. I have, however, yet another link with Joe Pullen, for he was chaplain to my ancestor Bishop Sanderson, whose death-bed he attended and whose funeral sermon he preached. We were very much pleased with our new house, which, though only two miles from the centre of Oxford, is practically in the country. How long it will remain so is another matter.  

In 1929 Lady Averil Sanderson Furniss and her husband were both unsuccessful as Labour candidates for Headington in the Oxford City Council elections.  

On 18 June 1930 Furniss was created Baron Sanderson of Hunmanby in the County of York in recognition of his distinguished career in education. By 1938 Baron Sanderson had moved away from North End, and he died at the age of 70 on 25 March 1939 at the Landsdowne Club in Berkeley Square, London. The title became extinct.  


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