No. 32: Former shop and lodging house

No. 32 was the third house down from the Holywell corner on the east side of Broad Street. Together with No. 31 to the south, it was demolished in 1891 to make room for the second phase (the three right-hand bays) of the Indian Institute. The Institute had to be built in two phases because there were old leases on this shop and No. 31 which did not expire until 1891.

The 1772 Survey of Oxford shows that the saddler Nicholas Halse (c.1726–1800) had his shop here, and that it had a frontage of 6 yards 2 ft 3 in. Parson Woodforde (who lived just around the corner in New College) was a regular visitor to his saddlery when an undergraduate (1758–1763) and mentions it a number of times in his diaries.

The 1841 census shows the ironmonger John Hoar (25) living here with Caroline (35) and John (4 months). It may have been Caroline’s second marriage, as also in the household are Elizabeth, Caroline, and John Stone, all put down s 15. They also have two people who appear to be lodgers.

By 1851, the ground-floor of the house was being let out as a shop, while upstairs was a “gents’ lodging house”. Another large building running at right-angles in behind and known as the Skylight Rooms, was used for billiards. The 1851 census shows that Edward Payne, a grocer, then rented and lived at the shop at the front. Richard Rockall, the billiard table keeper, and his wife Mary, who looked after the lodging house, also lived here with one servant. They have only two lodgers at the time, but the census was taken in the vacation.

At the time of the 1861 census, this shop was occupied by a chemist, George T. Prior, who lived on the premises with his wife Sophia, their young daughter, an apprentice, and a servant. There was also room on the site for the Williams family with their five children, a governess, and three servants.

On 29 September 1866 the forthcoming auction of this shop, which was held on lease from the Warden and Scholars of Merton College for forty years from Lady Day 1852, was advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

A well-situated HOUSE, with CHEMIST'S SHOP, No. 32, Broad-street, in the occupation of Mr. Prior. The House comprises front and back shops, 4 sitting rooms, 7 bedrooms, cellars, and servants' offices.

George T. Prior still had his chemist’s shop here at the time of the 1881 census. From January 1883 for at least a year, Arthur Evans and his wife Margaret were lodgers here.

Occupants of 32 Broad Street listed in directories


John Thorp, Hosier (his private house from 1783)


John Hoar, Ironmonger & Smith


R. Rockall, Picture frame maker


Edward H. Payne, Grocer & Tea dealer &c.
The Skylight Rooms: Richard Rockall, Billiard room proprietor


George T. Prior, Pharmaceutical chemist
(and post office from 1875–1876)

Demolished in 1891 (along with No. 31 to the south)
to make room for Phase 2 of the Indian Institute

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