31 Cornmarket

31 Cornmarket

In 1882 Arthur Pearson (who had already bought Boswell’s shop at its original premises at 50 Cornmarket) bought No. 31 from the ironmonger Alderman James Stanley Lowe. He ran his own ironmonger’s shop there until 1912, when he moved his premises to George Street.

By 1889 Pearson had also bought the Oxford Drug Company on the corner of Broad Street, but when it was demolished to make way for William Baker House in 1915, Pearson moved his business round the corner to 31 Cornmarket, which he had rebuilt in 1912 and which now forms the western section of Boswell’s.

Although Boswell’s and the Oxford Drug Company in Cornmarket Street had been united in common ownership in 1890, it was only in 1958 an opening was made to join the two buildings, and they remain united today. They form Oxford’s largest independent department store.

Boswell’s and the Oxford Drug Company are still owned by the Pearson family, and have thus been under the same ownership since 1890 (albeit that they were each in different shops in Cornmarket until 1928).

In the censuses

“House of business not slept in” is written against No. 31 in the 1851 census, and the building is listed as uninhabited in 1861 and again in 1881, indicating that the whole of the premises was used as a shop.

Occupants of 31 Cornmarket listed in directories etc.


Herbert & Embling, Cabinet Makers


J. S. Lowe, Furnishing & general ironmonger


A. Pearson (later Pearson & Co), Ironmonger

Shop rebuilt in 1912


The Oxford Drug Company, Chemists
(“Arthur Pearson, M.A.” included in 1921)

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