Oxford History: The High

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Oxford Mileways Act and the High


The First Schedule of the Oxford Mileways Act of 1771 lists those ways and streets “to be paved, widened, and repaired, exclusive of the Mile-Ways”. These include:

  • “The Street or Way leading from Magdalen Bridge to East Gate, called Bridge Street
  • “The Street or Way called the High Street, leading from thence to Carfax”.

The measures listed in the Second Schedule include:

  • In order to rebuild and widen Magdalen Bridge,
    To take down a Malt-house or other Buildings, and the several Houses built upon or situate on the South and North Sides of the said Bridge, and such other Buildings as shall be necessary for rebuilding the said Bridge, and widening the Avenues leading thereto, and to purchase such Ground as shall be necessary for carrying off the Water from the said Bridge
  • In order to open the Bridge Street, from the West End of Magdalen Bridge to the East End of the High Street,
    To take down the House and other Buildings in the Physick Garden, and such other houses, Buildings, and Walls, near Magdalen College, as shall be necessary for that Purpose;
    To take down the East Gate, and such Houses and Buildigns near or adjoining to it, on the South and Nort Sides of the said Street, and to purchase such Ground as shall be necessary to render the Street of an equal Width with the High Street
  • In order to open the Street near Carfax,
    To take down Carfax Conduit.

Thus until 1771 a mean road known as Bridge Street ran from St Clement’s to the site of the old East Gate near Merton Street, and only then did the wide High Street begin.

Lowry’s map of c,1860 (below) shows the full length of the High much as it is today.

1852 Lowry map

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 15 December, 2015

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