18–20 Cornmarket

This part of the Marks & Spencer site included the Bell Inn at No. 18 (which closed in 1912), and the Star & Garter pub at No. 20, which survived as the Tunnel Hotel until 1934.

This was the original Marks & Spencer site in Oxford. The store demolished these three old buildings in 1934 , and the shop opened on 10 May 1935. It was so popular that it had extended its premises northwards to 21 Cornmarket by November 1939.

In 1960 it demolished its own premises here (and another five old shops to the south) and replaced them with the present block at 13–20 Cornmarket Street.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to Salter, these houses were then occupied as follows:

  • 18 Cornmarket occupied by Mr Cox, with a frontage of 3 yards, 2 ft. and 9 in.
  • 19 Cornmarket occupied by Mrs Marsh, with a frontage of 4 yards, 1 ft. and 7 in.
  • 20 Cornmarket occupied by Mr Box, with a frontage of 5 yards, 1ft. and 11 in.


In the censuses


No. 18: The “Bell Inn” : This is occupied by the victualler James Prior (40), Eliza Prior (40), and Emma and Harriet Prior (9 and 6). They had one female servant, and on census night one independent lady was staying at the inn.

No. 19: The cheesemonger George Brown (55) lives over his shop with his wife Mary (55) and Ann Waddin (30) and Mary Waddin (2). They have one female servant.

No. 20: “Star & Garter”: William Nickols (50) is listed as the inn keeper here (with the pub unnamed), and he lives with his wife Ann (45), and his five children Harriet (20), William (15), Charles (12), Henry (8), and Ann (6). There are three servants (one male and two female), and two guests. (By 1861, he can be found at the Anchor Inn at 25A Cornmarket.)


No. 18: “The Bell”. The pub (unnamed) is occupied by the innkeeper Miss Mary Prior (25), with her two sisters Emma (20) and Harriett (17) as assistants. Their lodger is Derby-born china merchant Francis Thompson (22), and also living with them is a domestic servant and a porter. Thompson had taken over the pub by 1852.

No. 19: The cheesemonger George Brown (68) is still here with his wife Mary (70) and one female servant.

No. 20 (“Star & Garter”): William Nickols (65) is still listed as innkeeper here. Born in Kidlington, he and his wife Ann (55) still had four of their children at home: Harriet (28), William (26, described as his father’s assistant), Henry (19 and apprenticed from home), Ann (16). Also in the household was Nickols’s niece Jane Roberts, who was a dressmaker, and an ostler and a house servant.


No. 18: The “Bell Inn” is occupied by John Mayo (31, born Brackley, Northants), who is described as a wine and spirit merchant rather than a landlord. Living with him are his wife Celia (30) and his three children: Alice (8), William (6), and Laura (2). They have two female servants and a male porter.

No. 19: The bootmaker Robert Baxter (a widower of 54) is living over the shop with a female shop assistant and house servant.

No. 20 (“Star & Garter”): The pub is now owned by Shillingford & Blake, and there is no live-in landlord: it is occupied by a brickmaker.


No. 18 “The Bell” is occupied by William S. Powell (34), who was born in Northamptonshire and is described as an inn-keeper. He lives with his Cowley-born wife Carolina (34) and children Percy (12), Richard (10), Edith (8), William (6), and Daisy (1). Also living at the inn are his father William (55), who is described as an engineer , and his mother Maria (60). They have two general servants (one male, one female), and a barmaid. Another household is listed as living in Bell Yard.

No. 19: The widowed saddler & harness-maker Emma Orpwood (44) is living here with her children Emma (19), Georgina (17), William (14, and a saddler’s assistant), Harry (11), Frank (9), Sidney (8), and Alice (4). They have a female general servant aged 15.

No. 20 (“Star & Garter”) is still owened by Shillingord & Blake and is occupied by the cellarman James Rowles (49), his wife Eliza (51), and his son Albert (17), who was a pupil teacher. Also living on the premises were two barmaids.

Occupants of 6 and 7 Cornmarket listed in directories etc.


No. 20 (left)
The Star & Garter
No. 19 No. 18 (right)
The Bell Inn


Landlords (not subject to
university wine licences)

Star & Garter
1794: Edward Turrell
1823: J. Lane
1830: Kesia Lane
1839–1852: William Nickols
1867–1899: Shillingford & Blake

Wine & spirit merchants
1901–2: W. G. Phillips & Sons

Star & Garter Hotel
(The Tunnel)
1911, 1914: S. J. Pickering
1921: Mrs Pickering
1932: Oswin Greenwood

Tunnel Hotel
1928, 32: Oswin Greenwood

Richard Chaundy

Landlords (subject to
university wine licences)

1823: John Northgrove [sic]
1830–1842: Ann Norgrove
1845–1850: James Prior
1852–1855: Francis Octavius Thompson
(son-in-law of Prior)
1861–1867: John Mayo
         Wine, spirit, and
         cigar merchant

1871–1872: William Barrett
1881: William Powell
1884: H. J. Beechey
1885–1890: Josiah William Charlton
1899: Arthur Rowland Hughes
1901–1902: William Preston
1911: Percy Chavasse


George Brown


Robert Baxter


Mrs Prichard
Boot & shoe manufacturer


William Samuel Orpwood

Mrs Emma Orpwood
in 1880-1890

William Samuel Orpwood
from 1899


Smith & Co

George Bryan & Co


Mallam & Son
Auctioneers & Surveyors


James Walker Ltd


Marks & Spencer
(with No. 21 as well by1947)


These three old buildings were demolished with five others to the south
to be replaced with the large Marks & Spencer block

Old pictures on other websites and in books

A photograph from 1934 showing the start of the demolition of 18–20 Cornmarket can be seen in Julie Kennedy, The Changing Faces of Oxford City Centre, Book 1, p. 41

For a picture of the 1935 shop, see ibid., p. 45

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