The Manor Studio

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The Manor Studios, 1990 The Manor Studios.jpg
The Manor Studios, 1990

The Manor Studio (a.k.a. The Manor) was a recording studio in the manor house at the village of Shipton-on-Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England, north of the city of Oxford.

Shipton-on-Cherwell village in United Kingdom

Shipton-on-Cherwell is a village on the River Cherwell about 2 miles (3 km) north of Kidlington in Oxfordshire, England. The village is part of the civil parish of Shipton-on-Cherwell and Thrupp.

Oxford City and non-metropolitan district in England

Oxford is a university city in south central England and the county town of Oxfordshire. With a population of approximately 155,000, it is the 52nd largest city in the United Kingdom, with one of the fastest growing populations in the UK, and it remains the most ethnically diverse area in Oxfordshire county. The city is 51 miles (82 km) from London, 61 miles (98 km) from Bristol, 59 miles (95 km) from Southampton, 57 miles (92 km) from Birmingham and 24 miles (39 km) from Reading.



The Manor and its outbuildings are listed Grade II on the National Heritage List for England. [1]

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is England’s official list of buildings, monuments, parks and gardens, wrecks, battlefields and World Heritage Sites. It is maintained by Historic England and brings together these different designations as a single resource even though they vary in the type of legal protection afforded to each. Conservation areas do not appear on the NHLE since they are designated by the relevant local planning authority.

The Manor was the third residential recording studio in the United Kingdom. The first being Ascot Sound Studios built between 1970-1971 by John Lennon in an addition to his Tittenhurst Park mansion, where he recorded his Imagine album. The second being Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire.[ citation needed ] The concept was pioneered in 1969 by French musician Michel Magne in the Château d'Hérouville.

John Lennon English singer and songwriter, founding member of The Beatles

John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group achieved worldwide fame during the 1960s. In 1969, Lennon started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and he continued to pursue a solo career following the Beatles' break-up in April 1970.

Tittenhurst Park

Tittenhurst Park is a Grade II listed early Georgian country house in an estate of 72 acres off London Road at Beggar's Bush near Ascot and over the parish border into Sunningdale, both in the English county of Berkshire. It was famously the home of musicians John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the late summer of 1969 until August 1971, and then the home of Ringo Starr and family until the late 1980s. Starr sold the property to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, in 1989.

<i>Imagine</i> (John Lennon album) 1971 studio album by John Lennon

Imagine is the second studio album by John Lennon after his departure from the Beatles. Recorded and released in 1971, the album's musical arrangements are more elaborate compared to the basic, small-group arrangements of his first album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

The manor house was owned by Richard Branson and used as a recording studio for Virgin Records, although artists signed to other labels also used the studios.

Richard Branson English business magnate, investor and philanthropist

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.

Virgin Records UK record company

Virgin Records Ltd. is a British record label founded by entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman in 1972. It grew to be a worldwide phenomenon over time, with the success of platinum performers such as Aaliyah, George Michael, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Roy Orbison, Devo, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Keith Richards, the Human League, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz, dc Talk, the Smashing Pumpkins, Mike Oldfield, Gorillaz,Lewis Capaldi and Spice Girls, among others.

The first officially released LP to be recorded there, while the studio was still being given its finishing touches in late 1971, was Let's Make Up And Be Friendly , a farewell reunion album by members of The Bonzo Dog Band. The most famous album to be recorded there was perhaps Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, during 1972–73 when Oldfield was given a week to record an LP at the studio. Vivian Stanshall, formerly of The Bonzo Dog Band, was recording his own first solo album there immediately afterwards, which led to his guest role as Master Of Ceremonies on Tubular Bells. [2] Sandy Denny also began her second solo album Sandy there in March 1972.

<i>Tubular Bells</i> 1973 studio album by Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells is the debut album by English musician and composer Mike Oldfield, released on Virgin Records on 25 May 1973. It comprises two mostly instrumental compositions of over twenty minutes each. Oldfield recorded it when he was 19 and played most of the instruments.

Mike Oldfield English musician, multi-instrumentalist

Michael Gordon Oldfield is an English multi-instrumentalist and composer. His work blends progressive rock with world, folk, classical, electronic, ambient, and new-age music. His biggest commercial success is the 1973 album Tubular Bells – which launched Virgin Records and became a hit in America after its opening was used as the theme for the film The Exorcist. He recorded the 1983 hit single "Moonlight Shadow" and a rendition of the Christmas piece "In Dulci Jubilo".

Vivian Stanshall English musician, artist and author

Vivian Stanshall was an English singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and wit, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, for his exploration of the British upper classes in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, and for acting as Master of Ceremonies on Mike Oldfield's album Tubular Bells.

In April 1995, after the takeover of Virgin Records by EMI, The Manor Studio was closed as a recording studio by EMI. It is now the country home of the Marquess of Headfort.

EMI British music recording and publishing company

EMI Group Limited was a British Transnational conglomerate founded in March 1931 in London. At the time of its break-up in 2012, it was the fourth largest business group and record label conglomerate in the music industry, and was one of the big four record companies ; its labels included EMI Records, Parlophone, Virgin Records, and Capitol Records, which are now owned by other companies.

Marquess of Headfort noble title in the Peerage of Ireland

Marquess of Headfort is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1800 for Thomas Taylour, 2nd Earl of Bective.

In 2010, NME reported that the Manor was up for sale for £5.75 million. [3]

Studio facilities

The Manor Studios control room. The Manor Studios Control Room.jpg
The Manor Studios control room.

The facilities were advertised as follows, as of 1973: [4]

Partial list of albums recorded at The Manor

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"The Intro and The Outro" is a recording by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. It appears on their debut album, Gorilla (1967). It is not so much a song as a comic monologue in which the speaker introduces the musicians who ostensibly appear on the recording. The recording fades out before the emcee completes the introductions and without the "orchestra" being able to play anything more than a vamp. The piece was written by Bonzo member Vivian Stanshall, who also provides the vocal. Stanshall first introduces the seven members of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who are credited with their actual instruments, over a vamp that resembles Duke Ellington’s "C Jam Blues".


  1. Historic England, "The Manor and attached outbuildings (1290378)", National Heritage List for England , retrieved 2 December 2016
  2. "Tubular Bells (M. Oldfield)". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. "'Tubular Bells' studio up for sale | News". Nme.Com. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  4. Notes in 25th Anniversary Edition of Tubular Bells, 1998.

Coordinates: 51°50′44″N1°18′18″W / 51.84556°N 1.30500°W / 51.84556; -1.30500