CORNMARKET, OXFORD

Back
Next

8–10 Cornmarket Street: Boots (former Roebuck Inn)


Boots at 8-10 today

Above: Boots at 8–10 Cornmarket now occupies the former Roebuck Inn building

Below: the Roebuck in about 1900. Another view of the hotel in 1909 can be seen here

The Roebuck

The Roebuck Inn (so named in 1610 after the arms of Jesus College) originally faced Market Street, but by 1740, when it had become a large coaching inn on the London to Gloucester run, its yard and main entrance faced on to Cornmarket Street. Until the second half of the nineteenth century the Roebuck only occupied the right-hand side of this building (No. 8), and there was a separate inn (the Little Cross) at No. 9 in the middle, and a shop at No. 10 on the left).

Much of the eighteenth-century fabric remains, and Nos. 8–10 form a Grade II listed building (list entry 1047324).

No. 8 was originally in the parish of St Martin's (Carfax) until that church was demolished in 1896, whereafter it was in the parish of St Martin's & All Saints until All Saints Church was deconsecrated in 1971. Nos. 9–10 have always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

Roebuck in 1840s

 

As the drawing on the left which dates from c.1850 shows, the Roebuck then only occupied No. 8 on the right, while No. 9 was the Little (or Old) Cross Inn, and No. 10 on the left (only a small portion of which can be seen here) was a shop.

See also this drawing from the 1840s showing the Roebuck at No. 8, the Little Cross at No. 9, and Chaundy’s tobacco shop at No. 10. (He moved to 17 Cornmarket early in 1842.)

This was a coaching inn during the eighteenth century, and In 1794 the following coaches were advertised as departing from this inn:

From the Roebuck Inn, Corn-market:—Mr. Cotrell's coach sets out every Tuesday and Saturday morning, at nine o'clock, to the Broad Face Inn, Reading, and returns on Monday and Friday.—Francis Blewitt's coach arrives from Abingdon at the Roebuck every Wednesday and Saturday, and returns the same evening.

In 1823 the Bath and Bristol coach left the Roebuck every morning at 8.30.

On 13 October 1866 the following report appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

One of the greatest improvements in our principal streets has been carried out at the Roebuck Hotel by the demolition of the adjoining wretched-looking tenement (No. 10), which was so long an eye-sore. The space thus gained will be taken up by a shop, to be occupied by Mr. Hayward, tailor, who is about to remove from his place of business in the High-street, to make room for alterations contemplated there. Over this new shop, the Roebuck Hotel is greatly extended, and the front looks very imposing.

Thus from 1866 the two inns at 8 & 9 Cornmarket and the shop at No. 10 were combined into one building, and henceforth the Roebuck rivalled the Star Inn on the other side of the street

Initially it occupied all the floors of Nos. 8 & 9, but only the upper floors of No. 10, which remained a shop on the ground floor.

Also in 1866 the coaching office and an ostler’s house were demolished so that the Roebuck Vaults could be built in Market Street around the corner as a tap to the main inn.

Park flagon

 

From 1865 to 1890 the innkeeper at the Roebuck Inn was William Park, and the flagon on the right, inscribed
Wm. PARK / Roebuck / OXFORD
must date from that period.

Prior to that Christopher and William Park were wine & spirit merchants at 54 Cornmarket Street, but that was demolished in the mid-1860s.

By 1880 the hotel had also taken over the ground-floor shop at No. 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph of the Roebuck from the south in 1907

Roebuck in 1924

 

The image on the left shows the Roebuck Hotel in the early 1920s.

 

 

The Roebuck Hotel closed in 1924. The southern part was converted into Woolworth’s first Oxford store, and the northern part into H. Samuel Ltd, jewellers.

In 1938 the old vaults facing Market Street were rebuilt by Thomas Rayson and renamed the Roebuck pub, and this later became an Australian theme bar called the Bar Oz.

In 1954 Woolworth's moved to its new store on the site of the old Clarendon Hotel, and in 1958 Boots the Chemist moved into the shop on the right, while H. Samuel remained in the premises on the left.

In the 1990s, Boots PLC expanded into the premises on the left, and so now occupies the whole site of the former coaching inn at Nos. 8–10.

Occupants of 8–10 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.

Date

No. 10 (left)

No. 9

No. 8 (right)

1841

Richard Chaundy
Tobacconist

Little Cross Inn

Innkeepers  (not subject to nineteenth-
century university wine licences):

John Norgrove (1794)
John Rogers (1823)
James Liley (1830)
Thomas Atkins (1839)
Ann Smith (1841)
James  John  Lyne (1842) William Matthews (1846–1852)
Edward Southam (1861)

Roebuck Inn

Innkeepers 
(subject to nineteenth-
century university wine licences):

John Probat (1783)
M. Richards (1823)
Richard Gurden (1830–1855)
John Matthews (1861)

 

1846

Oliver Washer
Bootmaker

1851

Probably a
tobacconist shop

1867

Hayward & Judge
Robe makers,
hosiers, hatters &c.

Roebuck Inn

Innkeepers:
William Park (1865–1890)
J. Austin Drayton (1895–1911)
George Saunders (1914)
E. M. Beazley (1921)

1872

Samuel C. Pottage
Tailor & robe maker

1880–1921+

The Roebuck Hotel

1925

No listing: being converted into shops

1926–1956

H. Samuel Ltd
Jeweller

Woolworths

1958–1999

Boots the Chemist

c.2000–
present

Boots the Chemist

8, 9, & 10 Cornmarket Street in the censuses

1841

No. 8: Richard Gurden (50), innkeeper, lived here at the Roebuck Inn with his wife Elizabeth (45), Caroline (9), and five male and four female servants. There were ten guests at the inn on census night.

No. 9: Ann Smith (40), victualler, lived here at the Little Cross with another Ann Smith (20), one female servant, and a coachman.

No. 10: Richard Chaundy (35), tobacconist, lived here over his shop with John Lyne (35), a printer, and Sarah Lyne. They had one female servant.

1851

No. 8: Richard Gurden (60) was still the innkeeper here at the Roebuck Hotel. He and his wife Elizabeth (55) were living with two of their daughters: Ellen Bough (3)) and Elizabeth Matthews (31). They had nine servants: a housemaid, kitchenmaid, cook, an upper- and under-chambermaid, waiter, under-waiter, and a boots and under-boots. There were five guests at the inn: a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, a saddler’s ironmonger, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, a rail contractor, and a farmer.

No. 9: William Matthews (40) was publican here at the Little Inn (usually called the Little Cross). He lived with his wife Clara (38) and his son John (6). They had no live-in servants, and three lodgers (two labourers and a blacksmith).

No. 10: George Hanowak (26), described as a “tobacconist manager” lived here over Chaundy's tobacco shop.

1861

No. 8: John Matthews (41), innkeeper, lived here at the Roebuck Inn: he was unmarried and had no family living with him. There were nine live-in servants (two waiters and a boots, and six women who were simply described as domestic servants). On census night there were seven guests: the ship merchant William Mayne and his wife and daughter, and four commercial travellers.

No. 9: Edward Southam (52), described as innkeeper and pensioner, lived here at the Little Cross with his wife Elizabeth and three male lodgers (a coachman, a carrier, and a tinman journeyman).

No. 10: Listed as “shop only”, so the tailor’s business evidently occupied the upstairs.

1871

No. 8: Listed separately under St Martin's parish, and described as uninhabited, and as “part of Roebuck not used for sleeping”.

No 9 & 10: The Roebuck: listed under St Michael's parish. William Park (41), licensed victualler, lived here with his wife Louisa (39) and an assistant, a waiter, a waitress, two porters, five servants. Two guests, both travellers, were staying at the hotel on census night. Listed separately at the Roebuck Tap was its barman, William Allen (44) and his wife Phoebe (34) and their children William (4) and Blanch (3).

1881

Nos. 8, 9, & 10: The Roebuck now included Nos. 9, and 10 Cornmarket, and the hotel keeper was William Park (51). He lived here with his wife Louisa (49) and their daughter Charlotte (24), and they had nine live-in servants (a barmaid, a waitress, and two male and five female domestic servants). There were three guests at the inn on census night: George Pearson (the Vicar of Coombe near Hungerford); Arthur C. Sharpe (an accountant), and Henry Smythe (a commercial traveller for the timber trade).

1891

Nos. 8, 9, & 10 (Roebuck Hotel): James Drayton (45), hotel keeper, lived here with his wife Elizabeth (39), who was his assistant, his son Harry (9), and his sister Miss Catherine Drayton (47) and sister in-law Miss Frances Urwick, who were both housekeepers. Also living on the premises were three housemaids, a bookkeeper, a pantrymaid, a scullerymaid, and a kitchenmaid). There was only one guest, a commercial traveller, staying at the hotel on census night.

1901

Nos. 8, 9, & 10 (Roebuck Hotel): James Drayton (55) and his wife Elizabeth (48) were still the hotel keepers and they lived here with their son Henry (19), who had attended Abingdon School between 1897 and 1899 and was now a music student, and James's sister Catherine Drayton (57). Thirteen servants lived with them (a bookkeeper, two waiters, three porters, a kitchenmaid, cook, and five housemaids).

1911

Nos. 8, 9, & 10: The Roebuck: James Drayton (65) was still the hotel keeper and lived here with his wife Elizabeth (58) and his unmarried sister Catherine (67), who assisted him in the business, and their only child Harry Urwick Drayton (29), who was now the organist and choirmaster at St Michael's Church. Also living with them were their bookkeeper and thirteen hotel servants (three waiters, three housemaids, two porters, one chambermaid, one larder maid, one pantry maid, one kitchenmaid, and one scullery maid).

Oxford History Home

© Stephanie Jenkins

Cornmarket Home