33–34 Cornmarket Street: Pandora

33-34 Cornmarket.

The former building on this site, which comprised two shops numbered 33 and 34, used to be attached to the eighteenth-century building at No. 35 to the south.

For leases granted by the city council for the property at 33–35 Cornmarket Street from 1610 to 1849, see Salter, Oxford City Properties, pp. 238–240, which describes how there was a dancing school and gymnasium on the second floor.

These premises are in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

The two shops were rebuilt in the early twentieth century and have been united since the 1940s.

In 1981 the British Shoe Corporation put in the present shop front.

Former No. 33

Henry Taunt had his photographer’s shop here by 1868, moving to 9 & 10 Broad Street in 1874.

George Bateman the optician opened here in 1921.

Former No. 34

Henry Alden, the founder of the Alden Press printing firm, opened his first bookshop opposite the Town Hall in St Aldate's Street in 1832. By September 1835 he had moved to Cornmarket Street, and Robson's Directory for 1839 lists him here at No. 34. On 7 May 1842 he published a notice in Jackson's Oxford Journal stating that he was holding a sale on the premises at No. 34 of many books, as he was giving up the trade of bookseller and moving to Queen Street, where he would in future continue only with the stationery & printing business. By 1861 he had moved again, to nearby 35 Cornmarket Street.

Mrs Jane Steane moved here from the wine merchant's shop at next door at No. 33 in around 1852.

The baker Thomas Grubb had his shop here from c.1860 to c.1940. He suffered in the bread riots of 1867, and the Oxford Chronicle of 16 November that year reports that:

… an immense crowd, numbering about 600 or 800 men and boys, with a sprinkling of women, rushed along Cornmarket Street to the shop of Alderman Grubb, baker, amidst hooting and yelling and cries of ‘We’ll have our rights’. We want cheap bead’; etc. The shop was, of course, closed; but the upper windows were speedily riddled with stones and threats of firing his premises were made.

For a drawing from the Police Review showing Grubb’s shop being attacked by rioters in November 1867, see Malcolm Graham, Images of Victorian Oxford, page 147.

  • West side of Cornmarket in 1907, showing No. 34 (with the sunblind in the middle of the group) when it was still part of the eighteenth-century house to the south.

Occupants of 33 and 34 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No. 34 (left) No. 33 (right)


Henry Alden

Samuel Steane, Wine merchant (died 1848)
Then Mrs Jane Steane


J. Steane
Wine merchant

T. Grubb


Thomas Grubb
Corn factor/merchant

Martin Coles
Portrait rooms, perambulator maker and photo chemist


Henry W. Taunt


J. Banner
Steam dyer and French cleaner


Mrs A. E. Solloway
Fancy repository


Walter Blackall


Ravenscroft & Fraser


Edwin Saunders


George Bateman & Co.
Ophthalmic Opticians


Dolcis Shoe Co, Boot makers


Manfield & Sons Ltd, Bootmakers


British Shoe Corporation


Remainders Ltd


The Outdoor Group


Free Spirit



Former Nos. 33–34 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


No 33: Does not appear to be listed: probably part of the wine merchant's shop below.

No. 34 was occupied by the bookseller Henry Alden (30) and Elizabeth (24), Henry (5), Edward (3), and Sarah (1). An apprentice and an independent person also lived with them, and they had two female servants.


No. 33: Described as “house of business, not slept in”.

No. 34: The widowed wine merchant Jane Steane lived here with her son James (22), daughter Sarah (17), and one female servant.


No. 33: Martin Coles (27), a hairdresser and dealer in fancy goods, lived here with his wife Caroline (29) and daughter Emily (1).

No. 34: Thomas Randle Grubb (24), a baker and corn dealer, lived here with his wife Sarah (30) and his children Thomas (5) and Elizabeth (6 months). They had one female servant.


No. 33: No listing.

No. 34: Thomas Grubb (44), a mealman, lived here with his wife Sarah (42) and his children Thomas (15) and Sarah (7). They had one servant.


No. 33: Described as “uninhabited”.

No. 34: Sarah Grubb (51) is now a widow, and lived here with her son Thomas (25), described as a corn dealer, her daughter Sarah (17) and one female servant.


Nos. 33 & 34 both listed as uninhabited: they may have been rebuilt around this time. .


No. 33: Walter Blackall (56), a photographer, lived here with his wife Sarah (53) and his children Walter (23), who was a photographer, and Bertha (16), who was a photographer's assistant.


No listing for either shop.

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