Oxford History: The High


6–7: Jack Wills

Jack Wills

6-7 High Street

The ground floor of this building was altered in 2012. The photograph on the left shows its previous appearance.

No. 6, the narrow building on the left of this shop, and No. 7, the much wider building on the right, both date from the late eighteenth century, but were rebuilt in 1958 with a modern shop front.

Both sections of the shop are listed:

No. 6: Grade II* (List Entry No. 1047311)

No. 7: Grade II (List Entry No. 1116359)

These are the first two houses in All Saints' parish.



In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to Salter, No. 6 with the passage down its side was then in the of a Mr Underhill, and its frontage measured 5 yards 0 feet 6 inches; while No. 7 was divided into two parts, one occupied by Mr Lock and the by Mrs Radford.

The “Mr Lock” of 1772 was the goldsmith and banker Edward Lock (Mayor of Oxford in 1776/7, 1791/2, and 1806/7). Parson Woodforde paid many visits to his shop, and mentions giving some money to his only son Joseph. Lock later expanded into No. 6, and started the University and City Bank here. Sir Joseph Lock (Mayor of Oxford in 1813/14 and 1829/30) took the business over from his father until his death in 1844.

At the time of the 1851 census, William Adams, the toyman at No. 6 on the left, lived over the shop with his wife and two children and a general servant. He was still there in 1861 and 1871.

At No. 7 on the right, Michael Underhill, a grocer and employer of 23 men, lived upstairs in 1851 with his wife, two children, a granddaughter, and three servants, as well as his married son Henry (who was his partner) and his servant. By 1861 Henry Scrivener Underhill was the head of the household here, and by 1871 he and his wife had three children and three servants. No. 7 was a grocer’s shop from at least 1846 until the International Stores closed at the end of the 1970s.

Vincent’s Club met upstairs at Nos. 6/7 from 1894 to 1931, when it moved to its present address in King Edward Street.

In 2012 planning applications that made the whole building a four-storey retail shop were approved:

  • 11/02100/FUL: Change of use of first, second and third floors from Gymnasium use (class D2) to Retail use (class A1) and installation of rear fire escape door
  • 11/02101/LBC: Internal alterations involving changes in floor levels to ground floor and basement, insertion of new staircase from basement to 1st floor, removal of existing partitions, insertion of new partitions and lift serving all floors. Insertion of external fire escape door on rear elevation at second floor level.

Occupiers of 6–7 High Street since 1839
Grey shading indicates an earlier building on the site 


6 High Street

7 High Street


Sir Joseph Lock & Co., Bankers


William Peter Adams
Toy & stationery warehouse (to 1876)

T. Plaister
Cabinet maker & upholsterer (1880–1883)

Underhill & Sons
Grocers & tea dealers


T. Underhill & Sons, Grocers & tea dealers


William Cleaver, Surgical boot maker (1888–1910)

Dorian Shoe Co. Ltd (1911–1923)

M. Underhill & Sons, Grocers


W. A Roper, Bootmaker (1925)

Lennards Ltd, Bootmakers (1927–1943)

No listing 1945–1956

International Tea Co. Stores Ltd, Grocers

By 1945–1956: 7A (upstairs): Ross Hotel


International Tea Co.’s Stores Ltd, Grocers  

By 1980–2012

Ryman’s (Stationers)

Upstairs from c.1980s: Health & Fitness Clubs
(The High Health Club, then Bourton Mill Health & Leisure Club to Aug 2011)


Jack Wills

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 August, 2016

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