Oxford History: The High


6–7: Jack Wills

Jack Wills

6-7 High Street

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: Grade II* (List Entry No. 1047311)

No. 7: 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.




Left: This shop when it was Ryman stationers

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 other 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.

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

At the time of the 1911 census the Misses Dora and Ada Randall, who described themselves as restaurant keepers, lived in the six rooms over No. 6, and there was no listing for No. 7

In 2012 planning applications that turned 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


6 High Street

7 High Street

Upstairs (Carfax House)


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

Living accommodation


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: 19 July, 2018

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