Oxford History: The High


6–7: Anthropologie

Jack Wills

This was originally two shops: No. 6 is the very narrow building with a late eighteenth-century Venetian window at first-floor level to the left of the present shop, and No. 7 the much wider building with four windows with iron balconies at first floor level to the right.

The building dates from the late eighteenth century, but was largely rebuilt in 1959 with a modern shop front for the International Tea Company Stores (planning application 59/07057/A_H).

The two buildings that form this shop are separately listed:

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

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

These were the first two houses in the High in the parish of All Saints until that church was deconsecrated in 1971. The shop is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to H. E. Salter, No. 6 with the passage down its side was then in the of the hosier Mr Underhill, and its frontage measured 5 yards 0 feet 6 inches; while No. 7 was divided into two parts, the one to the west occupied by Mr Lock and the one to the east 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. Edward Lock later expanded into No. 6, and started the University and City Bank here, going into partnership with Joseph.

The drawing below (copied by John Buckler from a drawing in the possession of Joseph Lock) shows the two shops tat 6 & 7 High Street. The name LOCK can be seen over the doorway of No. 7.

Nos 6 & 7 in eighteenth century

On the night of Thursday 12 June 1794 there were illuminations in Oxford to celebrate the defeat of the French fleet by Lord Howe at the battle eleven days earlier that was known as “The Glorious First of June”. Jackson's Oxford Journal reported thus two days later on the celebrations outside this shop:

… and the Front of the House of Messrs. Locks, Goldsmiths, with the Bank adjoining, was remarkably conspicuous, by Wreaths of variegated Lamps, and a Transparency; where a select Band of Musick had been procured, consisting of French Horns, Clarinets, Violins, and divers other Instruments, who played up, with infinite Spirit, the good old Tunes of God Save the King, Rule Britannia, and Britons Strike Home;—Musick both well-timed and popular.

Sir Joseph Lock (who was Mayor of Oxford in 1813/14 and 1829/30) took the business over from his father until own his death in 1844. The 1841 census shows him living here, still described as a banker at the age of 80, with his daughter Maria, three other people, and three servants.

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.

No. 7 on the right was a grocer’s shop from at least 1846 until the International Stores closed at the end of the 1970s.

In 1851 Michael Underhill, a grocer and employer of 23 men, lived upstairs at No. 7 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.

By 1891 the grocer here was Henry Michael John Underhill, who was also an antiquarian, artist, and expert in natural history and archaeology (see article on him in Oxoniensia 2008).

Photograph of Underhill's shop in 1901 (wrongly described as being in Cornmarket)

Vincent’s Club met upstairs at Nos. 6/7 from 1894 to 1931, when it moved to its present address in King Edward Street. At the time of the 1901 census Henry Browne (42), the manager of the club, was living over the shop at No. 7 with his wife Annie and a housemaid and kitchenmaid.

By 1911 census the Misses Dora and Ada Randall, who described themselves as restaurant keepers, lived in the six rooms over No. 6.

In 2012 two planning applications that turned the whole building into 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


6 High Street

7 High Street

Upstairs (Carfax House)


Sir Joseph Lock & Co., Bankers

Joseph Lock's private accommodation


William Peter Adams
Toy & stationery warehouse (to 1876)

Underhill & Sons
Grocers & tea dealers

Living accommodation


T. Plaister
Cabinet maker & upholsterer


T. Underhill & Sons, Grocers & tea dealers



William Cleaver
Surgical boot maker (1888–1910)

Dorian Shoe Co. Ltd (1911–1923)

M. Underhill & Sons

1894–1931: Vincent's Club


W. A Roper
Bootmaker (1925)

Lennards Ltd,

International Tea Co.
Stores Ltd, Grocers


1932–1937: Various dentists


The Ross Café (to 1940)

The Ross Hotel (from 1941)


No listing



International Tea Co.’s Stores Ltd

1962–1966: Strange (Oxford) Ltd,
ladies' hairdressers

1962–1972: Phonotas Co. Ltd.,
telephone sterilizers (to 1972)

1962–1971: Arthur Guinness, Son & Col (Park Royal) Ltd, brewers

1967–1974: Maison Gray ladies hairdressers


Roland of Switzerland, ladies' hairdressers

Carless & Adams, quantity surveyors
+ Sun Life Assurance Society in 1976

By 1980–2012

Ryman (Stationers)

From c.1980s to 1911:
Health & Fitness Clubs
(The High Health Club, then Bourton Mill Health & Leisure Club)


Jack Wills



©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 15 April, 2022

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