26–27 Cornmarket Street: Pret à Manger

Timbered house

This building, which originally comprised three separate shops, probably dates from the fifteenth century and was altered in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It belongs to Jesus College, and has always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

No. 26 is on the right and No. 27 is in the middle, and they are jointly Grade II listed (list entry 1047325). (The part on the left that goes around the corner (No. 28) is also listed, but under a separate reference.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to Salter, No. 26 Cornmarket was then in the occupation of Mr Wootten and No. 27 of Mr Townsend, and each had a frontage of exactly 4 yards.

26 to 28 Cornmarket in the 1920s

In the 1870s Abraham Zacharias (who had been a silversmith, jeweller, and watch & clock maker at 2 Cornmarket in the 1850s) set up his son Joel Zacharias in business here at No. 27 as a china and glass dealer.

In the late 1880s Joel Zacharias expanded into No. 26, and started selling waterproof clothing, and the two shops have been one since that date. By about 1896 the stopped selling china and glass altogether.

When Joel Zacharias died in 1905, the business was taken over by Henry Osborn King of Wolvercote, who was succeeded by his son Cecil. The business closed in 1983.

  • For extracts from an interesting early catalogue of Zacharias & Co, see Michael L. Turner and David Vaisey, Oxford Shops and Shopping, pp. 44–5.


Jesus College extensively restored this block in 1986–7 (planning application 85/00270/NFH).


Right: Nos. 26, 27, and 28 Cornmarket Street in the 1920s: a comparison with the modern photograph at the top of this page shows the extent of the restoration. Wett Off Coats are advertised on the Zacharias shop

Occupants of 26 and 27 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No. 27 (left) No. 26 (right)


Robert Couling
Tailor & Confectioner (1839–1842)

Confectioner (1846)

Robert Wharton
Foreign Fruit & Italian Warehouse

Italian, foreign fruit and fish sauce warehouse

Dealer in British wines, Italian oil and fish sauce


(also J. Harrison, Livery stable keeper, in 1839)


John Piper
The Oxford Ale Stores


Abraham Zacharias
China and glass warehouse


Joel Zacharias
Glass and china depôt

Mrs Wharton
Foreign fruiterer & Italian warehouse


26 & 27: J. Zacharias & Co., Waterproof clothing manufacturers
27: Joel Zacharias, China & glass dealer


Zacharias & Co., waterproof clothing manufacturers


Laura Ashley




Sole Shoes

2008 to present

Pret A Manger

26–27 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


No. 26: Robert Wharton (30), a fruiterer, lived over his shop with his brother Frederick Wharton (25), an assistant fruiterer. They had one female servant.

No. 27: Robert Couling (45), a tailor, lived here over his shop with Elizabeth (40), Charlotte (20), Harriet (12) and Elizabeth (10).


No. 26: Robert Wharton (47), fruiterer, and his brother Frederick (37), assistant fruiterer, both still bachelors, continued to live here over their shop. They had one female servant.

No. 27: Robert Couling (55), a tailor, still lived here over his shop with with his wife Elizabeth (53) who was described a shopkeeper, and his daughters Elizabeth (20), and Harriet (22), who were respectively described as a mantua maker, and dressmaker.


No. 26: Frederick Wharton (45), still unmarried and described as the brother of the head of the household and a fruiterer’s shopman, was again living over the shop on census night with their housekeeper, a widow of 58.

No. 27: Robert Couling (65) was still living over his shop with his wife Elizabeth (64) and his nephew Henry Faulkner (17), described as a tailor’s assistant.


No listing for Nos. 26 & 27.


No. 26: Maryanne Wharton (49), described as a widow and a fruiterer, lived here with her son Robert (19) and one general servant.

No. 27: Listed as uninhabited. Joel Zacharias (29) who had a shop here was still living with his parents at 1A Cornmarket.


Nos. 26 & 27: Joel Zacharias (39), a waterproof manufacturer and glass & china dealer, had taken over both shops and lived upstairs with his wife Rebecca (27) and their children George (7) and Arthur (five months). They had a 16-year-old servant girl.


Nos. 26 & 27: Joel Zacharias (49), waterproof manufacturer, still lived here over his shop with his wife Rebecca (39) and their sons George (17), Arthur (10), and Victor (5). They had one servant.


No listing.

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