37 Cornmarket Street: Vacant

37 Cornmarket.

This building has always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church. The original building on this site was known as Shoemakers' Hall: in 1596 Oxford City Council granted the Cordwainers a lease of the Town Wall against their older tenement here “to build their house, upon which the eves to drop into the Town Ditch and to build their stairs and chimneys in the same wall”. By 1604 they had rebuilt their premises and pulled down the portion of the city wall against which the house had been built, erecting a new wall four feet to the north. (For later leases up to 1771, see H. E. Salter, Oxford City Properties, pp. 248–9.)

Soon after 1771 the house was pulled down by order of the Commissioners under the Paving Act and rebuilt further back. It is probably the house next door to the Marquis of Granby pub at No. 26 advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 4 January 1777:

TO be LETT, and entered on immediately,—A new-built HOUSE, next to the Marquis of Granby's Head, in the Corn-Market; containing eight good convenient Rooms, besides a Kitchen, Out-house, and Yard; fit either for a Shop-Keeper or a private Family.—For farther Particulars enquire of Mr. Townesend, Builder, in the High-Street.

By 1891 the 1770s building had in turn been pulled down and was replaced by the present one.

Charles Underhill's grocery shop

Thomas Tubb was a grocer here from at least 1839 to 1854, when he relinquished the business to Charles Underhill. On 1 April 1854 Underhill announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that as soon as alterations to these premises were complete he would move here and close his former business at 11 Beaumont Street.

While in the occupation of Charles Underhill, this property was advertised for sale in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 8 January 1859:

All those very commanding FREEHOLD BUSINESS PREMISES, No. 37, CORN MARKET-STREET, at the corner of New Inn Hall-street, Oxford, comprising, on the ground floor, a very attractive Shop, with plate glass front, counting house, and a private entrance from New Inn Hall-street; on the first floor, sitting room and two bed rooms, five bed rooms on the second floor; a capital cellar in the basement, water closet, and other conveniences.

By the time of the 1861 census Underhill had moved to live privately at Diamond Villa in South Parade with his new second wife and five of his children, leaving his 18-year-old grocer son Charles Maitland Underhill and his 17-year-old daughter living over this shop with a housekeeper.

For pictures of the inside and outside of Underhill’s shop in 1891, and a circular letter and catalogue for 1893, see Michael L. Turner and David Vaisey, Oxford Shops and Shopping, pp. 24–5, photographs 44–48.

Charles Underhill died in 1903, and his son Charles Maitland Underhill continued to run the business here at 37 Cornmarket until his own death on 20 January 1924. He had no sons, and the business closed down.

Since 1928

Dunn & Co Hatters had moved into the shop by 1928, with the Royal Insurance Company upstairs. In 1960 the latter took over the whole building, and remained until the 1980s, when the Woolwich Building Society moved in.

Occupants of 37 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc


Thomas William Tubb, Grocer (& Tallow Chandler in 1839)


Charles Underhill, Grocer and general provision merchant


Dunn & Co., Hatters

+ Royal Insurance Co. Ltd (1928)
and (1936-1956): George Mallam solicitor


Royal Insurance Co. Ltd. (later Royal Insurance Group)


Woolwich Equitable Building Society (later Woolwich PLC)


Virgin Media


The Oxford Souvenir Shop (formerly named the University Gift Shop)



37 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


Two grocer’s shopmen and a female servant lived upstairs in Thomas Tubb’s shop.


Two servants of the head of the household (i.e. the grocer Thomas Tubb) were at home on census night: Samuel Dickinson (18) and Robert Forester (23), described as a grocer’s shopmen. There was also a housekeeper.


Charles Maitland Underhill (18), a grocer’s assistant and head of the household, lived here with his 17-year-old sister Harriett Roffey Underhill and a female servant


Charles Maitland Underhill (28), now grocer & wine merchant, lived over his shop with his wife Louisa (22) and one servant. A grocer's shopman boarded with them.


The shop was still Charles Maitland Underhill’s grocery shop, but he now lived in Warnborough Road and evidently let out the accommodation upstairs, which was occupied by David Martin (28), an auctioneer & valuer, and his wife Mary (24). They had a housemaid and kitchenmaid.


Listed as being unoccupied, but with rooms over a shop in New Inn Hall Street (as St Michael's Street was called before New Inn hall Street was extended northwards as far as George Street in 1872).


Described as uninhabited but in occupation: probably part of the grocer's shop below.


No listing.

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