BROAD STREET, OXFORD

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The Oxford Mileways Act 1771

The First Schedule of the Oxford Mileways Act of 1771 lists those ways and streets “to be paved, widened, and repaired, exclusive of the Mile-Ways”. These include :

  • “the Street or Way leading from the High Street near All Souls College to Broad Street”.
    This is Catte Street, which meets Broad Street at the junction of New College Lane. (The ensuing widening of Catte Street would have helped to mask the fact that Broad Street actually had an east side extending as far as New College Lane: the only evidence remaining of this today is the Broad Street postal address of the Modern History Faculty).
  • “the Street or Way called Broad Street, and the Street or Way leading from thence to the North Side or End of Baliol [sic] College’. It is evident from this description that until 1771 Broad Street came to an end at its junction with Turl Street, whence it petered out into a narrow lane leading to Balliol College and on to a junction with Cornmarket. The Second Schedule of the Act lists the following measure, “In order to widen the Street at the End of Broad Street, To take down the Wall on the South Side of Baliol [sic] College, and take in such Part of the Garden as shall be necessary.

As a result of the Mileways Act, Balliol College lost its front garden and garden wall, and Broad Street continued to live up to its name almost as far as the eastern arm of Magdalen Street, as Lowry’s map of c.1860 (below) shows. Note how the Clarendon Building of 1711 has partially blotted out the southern part of the triangular section at the east of Broad Street; the northern part was similarly squared off by the New Bodleian Library in the late 1930s.

Lowry’s 1852 map

Key to Broad Street buildings:
C = Trinity College
D = Balliol College
G = Exeter College
5 = St Mary Magdalen Church
42 = Old Ashmolean (now Museum of the History of Science)
44 = Clarendon Building

 

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Stephanie Jenkins

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