No. 37: Former shop

37 Broad Street


No. 37 Broad Street was the third house from the right of the thirteen houses dating from the first half of the seventeenth century that were demolished to make way for the New Bodleian Library in the late 1930s.

The Elephant Inn on the site of the Clarendon Building is understood to have changed its name to the Royal Oak in 1662, and one of the houses in this group took the name of the Elephant and operated as a pub until 1820. Miriam Freeborn understood that it was probably here at No. 37, but there is a chance it was the earlier name of the Duke of York, which was definitely at No. 41

This was a large house, and the 1851 census shows that the shoemaking business going on at No. 37 was more like a factory than a cottage industry. Mrs Clara Simms, a widow of 41, is listed as the employer of 18 men, including her two sons George (21) and James (19), who lived with her over the shop with their two little sisters and 4-year-old brother, plus a servant and a student lodger.

By the time of the 1881 census George Simms had taken over the business: a widower of 51, he lived upstairs with his son of the same trade, his daughter, and a general servant.

See H.E. Counsell, 37 The Broad (London, Robert Hale Ltd, 1943), which gives some information about life at “Thirty-seven” between 1903 and 1934, when the author, Dr Herbert Counsell, had a surgery at this house, moving out in 1935 when it was scheduled for demolition.

Occupants of 37 Broad Street listed in directories

Sometimes numbered 38, e.g. in 1851 census


Thomas Cripps, Pastry cook

By 1846–1890

Simms family, Bootmakers

1846: John Simms, Bootmaker
1852: Clara Simms, Bootmaker
1861–1890: Simms and Son, Bootmakers/Boot & Shoe makers/Chiropodists


W. Lewis Morgan, MA Oxon, MRCS
Surgeon, coroner to the university & surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary;
later also Lichfield Trust lecturer on surgery


Frederick Owen Pickering, Lodging House


Herbert E. Counsell, FRCS, Surgeon (Surgery)


Rose Paget, Gowns

Demolished with twelve neighbouring houses in 1937
to make room for the New Bodleian Library

See the bound typescript in the Bodleian Library entitled “The Demolished Houses of Broad Street and the Freeborn Family” (1943), attributed to Emily Sarah Freeborn, and the webpage by Alan Simpson which reproduces some of the material in it.

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