52 Cornmarket (site of former Star/Clarendon Hotel)

Clarendon Centre

The Clarendon Centre (above, in 2009) occupies the site of the former Clarendon Hotel (below).

Clarendon Hotel in 1906

The above photograph was taken in 1906, and shows a group of young men (probably undergraduates of Pembroke College) about to embark on a journey in the rain. The photograph below shows a CTC (presumably Cyclists’ Touring Club) dinner at the Clarendon on 7 November 1905. (Both photographs are in the possession of Derek Collier.)

CTC at the Clarendon in 1905

The Clarendon was an ancient coaching inn, known as the Star for at least 400 years until 1863. Its front was replaced with a symmetrical façade in 1783.

In 1863 the Star was acquired by the Oxford Hotel Company, and Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 14 March that year reported that it would be renamed either the Alexandra (after the newly wed Princess of Wales) or the Clarendon. The latter won the day.

The Clarendon Club was founded here in 1863, but moved to 54 Cornmarket in 1882. It was back here in the 1940s and early 1950s.

The postcard below dates from around 1905.

Clarendon Hotel

The hotel later became part of the Trust House group, who produced the postcard shown below.

Clarendon Hotel

Cornmarket, with Clarendon Hotel on left

Blue plaque

In the Censuses


No innkeeper appears to be present on census night. The guests at the hotel include the Marchioness of Londonderry and Alexandra La Lane and the physician Thomas Star with Georgina and their two servants. An office clerk and fourteen servants (six female and eight male) slept on the premises.


Samuel Young Griffith (51, born in Bath) is hotel keeper at the “Star Hotel”. He lived here with his wife Sarah (44, born Marlborough) and two daughters: Grace (21) and born in Oxford, and Rebecca (5) and born in Cheltenham. They had ten live-in servants (two chambermaids, a housemaid, kitchenmaid, china-maid, nurse, waiter, porter, and coachman. Staying at the hotel were two commercial travellers, and a retired horse-keeper aged 82. Living next door at the Star Tap were Thomas Beesley, the hotel’s porter, with his wife and four children, his mother-in-law, and a house servant.


The Hotel Keeper of the “Star Hotel” is still Samuel Young Griffith (61), who is also described as a wine merchant. His wife Sarah (56), and one unmarried Oxford-born daughter, Adelaide (21) were living with him. He had until recently also run the Angel Inn in the High Street, which was in the process of being closed down.

There were eleven servants living at the inn: a cook, barmaid, ostler, and waiter; three housemaids; two chambermaids; and two porters.

There were only two guests on census night: James Manning (79), who was the Recorder of Oxford, and his niece Sarah.


In 1881 the keeper of the “Clarendon Hotel” is John F. Attwood (aged 50 and born in Canterbury), who lived there with his wife Hannah Attwood (36 and born in Stratford) and his wife’s sister, Mary E. Kite, who worked in the inn. The other sixteen live-in servants are a book-keeper, a barmaid, a chambermaid, a kitchenmaid, housemaid, still-room maid, under-chambermaid, scullery maid, three waiters, a boots and under-boots, a plate-man, page, and billiard-marker. Next door at the “Clarendon Tap” lived two Clarendon Inn ostlers.

Since 1939

In 1939 the Clarendon was bought by Woolworth & Co. (who until then had occupied the Roebuck Hotel in Cornmarket). In 1944 Lawrence Dale wrote in Towards a Plan for Oxford City, “When the Clarendon goes this superb street [Cornmarket] may be said to have been destroyed by inertia and intolerance more effectively than by high explosive.”

Because of the war, however, demolition was delayed, and the building served as an American Servicemen’s Club during the second world war, and then until 1952 it was used as offices. Woolworth’s eventually demolished it in 1954 to make way for their new store, designed in 1956–7 by Lord Holford. The old logo(below) that has survived on the front of the Clarendon Centre shows that Woolworth’s eventually opened in 1957.

The new store, five times larger than its predecessor and featuring a cafeteria, was opened by the mayor and mayoress of Oxford, Alderman and Mrs RF Knight, on Friday, October 18, 1957. The mayor told guests:

When I look at this very wonderful building from the Mayor’s Parlour, I realise what you have achieved. The inside is staggering and, inside and out, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I can say that, as a city, we are very proud of your frontage.

Below: The Woolworth’s logo and the date 1957 still remains on the front of the old store.

Woolworth's sign

Woolworth’s moved out of central Oxford in 1983, and its old store was remodelled as part of the Clarendon Centre in 1983/4.

Occupants of 52 Cornmarket listed in directories etc.

To 1862

Star Inn

Later innkeepers (subject to 19C wine licences):
Mrs Dupois (1823)
Richard Staning (1830–1835)
Samuel Young Griffith (1839–1861)


Clarendon Hotel

Innkeepers/hoteliers (subject to 19C wine licences):
Charles Titian Hawkins (1865)
Miss Smith (Manager) (1867)
John Frederick Attwood (1871–1881)
E. S. Rogers (1890)
E. Dyson (1899–1902)
George Saunders (1911, 1914)
Trust Houses Ltd., proprietors (1921–1936)


Morris Garages

Clarendon Club


The Morris Garages Ltd (Clarendon Garage)

Clarendon Club

Various Government offices, e.g. in 1947 Ministry of Labour & National Service Employment Exchange (Women’s Department; Rent Tribunal (Furnished Houses); Ministry of Education (Oxford office); Ministry of Labour & National Service (Nursing appointments office); Ministry of Works; Post Office Training School; Ministry of Supply; Ministry of Transport

In 1954–1957 The old hotel was demolished and rebuilt as a large store




Clarendon Centre

1984–1999+: Littlewood’s in main shop on the Cornmarket frontage

2003–2009: Gap in main shop on Cornmarket frontage; H. Samuel to the left of entrance (53A)

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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