Oxford History: The High


19 & 20: Taylor’s / Oxford Blue

19 & 20

The group of five shops numbered 19–23 High Street dates from the late eighteenth century. The upstairs rooms were converted into accommodation for Brasenose College in about 1930. They were in the parish of All Saints until that church was deconsecrated in 1971.

Nos. 19 & 20 are in this building on the far left of the group, which is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1369358).

According to Salter the building was divided into two dwellings as early as the Survey of Oxford of 1772, although less evenly. Mr Cox lived at No. 19 on the left which had a frontage of exactly 4 yards, while Mr Robinson lived at No. 20 on the right, which had a frontage of 7 yards and 3 inches.

No. 19

At the time of the 1851 census, Henry Hands, the jeweller & watchmaker at these premises, lived over the shop with his wife and baby son, and two servants.

The premises were described as “shop only” in 1861, and no one was living there in 1871 either.

In 1881, Mary, Sarah, and Laura French, three spinsters born in Iffley, lived upstairs and worked here as milliners and dressmakers.

In 1911 Miss Laura Elizabeth French (67) lived alone over the shop, and ran the drapery and fancy shop downstairs by herself. She was also an agent for Messrs Pullars Dye & Cleaning Works, who were to take the shop over from Miss French in 1918.

No. 20

The 1851 census shows Joseph B. Hillier (25), described as a “Draper (firm of 2)” living over this shop with three draper’s assistants and two servants. From 1853 he is listed in directories as a partner of J. C. Thorp; but in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 21 April 1855 Thorp announced he was discontinuing his business here to devote his entire attention to his Broad Street business, and A. H. Folker from London took over the premises.

The jewellers Rowell & Son became established in Oxford in 1797, and originally operated from 36 Broad Street. They moved to this shop in 1861, where they remained for 24 years before moving on to larger premises at 115 High Street in 1885.

At the time of the 1861 census Richard Rowell, a watch and clock maker employing four men and one boy, lived here with his wife, a shop assistant, a house servant, and an errand boy. He was still there in 1871 when he was a widower, living with his assistant and nephew Thomas Rowell.

By the time of the 1881 census, the accommodation above the shop was rented out to a gardener and his wife and son.

In 1911 David Rowe (32) and his wife occupied the eighteen rooms above 20 and 21 High Street and ran a boarding house there.

Occupiers of 19 & 20 High Street


No. 19

No. 20


Joseph Steele & Co.

Butler & Margetts


Henry Hodgkinson


Henry Hands
Jeweller & Watchmaker

John Charles Thorp & Co.
(Thorp & Hillier in 1853)
Hatter & gentlemen’s mercer


Henry Carter
Silversmith & Jeweller, Watch & Clockmaker


George W. Webb, Gun maker

Richard Rowell
Watch makers, jewellers, & opticians


R. R. Rowell, Watchmaker & jeweller


Misses French
[Miss L. E. French from 1890]
Milliners, dressmakers, & fancy repository

Upstairs from 1898:
Mid-Oxon Conservative Registration Office

Rowell & Son, later Rowell & Co.,
and (for 1884 only) Rowell & Harris
Watch makers, jewellers, & opticians


William Innes
Printseller, carver, gilder, & picture-frame maker


Shepperd Brothers
Robe makers [also at No. 21]


Oxford University Co-operative Society Limited


Pullars of Perth Dye Works Ltd
Dyers & cleaners


Leslie Davey
(later Leslie Davey & West)


Eastman Ltd
Dyers & cleaners


Bollom Ltd
Dyer’s & cleaners


Mabs Boutique


STA Travel


Harvey’s Express
(renamed Sprint in 2003)
Sandwich takeaway


Black Sheep Galleries


Taylor’s Delicatessen
& Sandwich Bar


Oxford Blue (Oxford Blue Clearance in 2016,
with new Oxford Blue shop at No. 23)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 July, 2018

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