Start of the Tour

South side of Broad Street

On this site you will find a separate page with a photograph for each building in Broad Street. Just keep following the pointer at the top to see them all.

Starting at the bookshop on the corner of Cornmarket, you will first visit each building on the south side of Broad Street as far as the Clarendon. You will then take in the new part of Hertford College and the Old Indian Institute (both technically in Broad Street) before crossing over to the New Bodleian Library and travelling westwards, returning to the starting point via the martyrs’ cross in the middle of the road.

On three of the pages (Hertford College, Modern History Faculty, and the New Bodleian Library) you will be able to choose whether to divert to short sub-tours giving the history of the buildings that used to be on these sites.

Jan (then James) Morris sums up the appearance of Broad Street in Oxford (1965):

The style of Oxford is reserved, and the scale is domestic…. A Gothic irregularity is one of the keys to it. If you stand with your back to Balliol’s main gate, and examine the rows of buildings on the other side of Broad Street, you will see how romantically varied is the façade of Oxford. To the left is the Palladian block of the Clarendon Building, then Wren’s peculiar Sheldonian, then the florid classicism of the Old Ashmolean; a slab of baronial follows, and the unyielding concrete of Exeter’s new building, and then a Georgian block with two oriel windows and a little tower; two sort of generally mediaeval structures next, a Victorian house with gables, more mediaeval, more Georgian, a kind of mock-Tudor chalet, a pseudo-Georgian shop, and finally a big building of the 1930s, at the junction with Cornmarket, for which I am at a loss to suggest any style at all. All these variegated structures stand there side by side, running into one another, and long since moulded into a patchwork unity.

The following description of Broad Street appears in The Oxford Preservation Trust Second Annual Report 1927–1928:

Broad Street, though its former beauty was (in the judgment of some) a little impaired by Mr. Waterhouse’s new buildings of Balliol, is one of the most attractive and interesting parts of Oxford. Its form makes it what the French call a ‘place’ rather than a street. The City Council owns the frontage from the west corner of the Turl to the north end of the Cornmarket. Within the next twenty years the whole of that frontage will be rebuilt. The houses which at present stand there produce a pleasant impression because they are simple, inconspicuous, well aligned, slightly irregular in skyline, and not incongruous with the beautiful buildings which give distinction to the eastern part of the street.

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Stephanie Jenkins

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