Oxford History: The High


38: High Street Barbers

38 High Street

No. 38 is on the right-hand side of a matching pair of houses dating from the sixteenth or early seventeenth century. The oriel windows in the gables are supported by seventeenth-century brackets, and even the barge-board above the windows dates from the seventeenth century. It is a is a Grade II listed building jointly with 37 next door (List Entry No. 1116054). This pair of shops, which is on the site of a fourteenth-century hall, was bought from Magdalen College by The Queen’s College in 1709 but in the end was not used in the redevelopment of Queen’s front quad.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to Salter, No. 38 was then in the occupation of a Mr Malbone, and its frontage measured 4 yards 2 feet 4 inches.

John Sowter, a watchmaker here, lived over the shop at the time of the 1851 census. A 61-year-old bachelor born in London, he shared the upstairs accommodation with an apprentice, a servant, and an undergraduate lodger.

Another watchmaker, George Stratton, lived here over his business premises in 1861 with his nephew Charles Strickland.

By 1871 the upstairs premises were let out to the physician Robert Jenkins and his wife.

At the time of the 1881 census, Edwin Knibbs, the winemerchant here, lived over the shop with his wife, five children, and a domestic servant. He was described as an employer of two men.

From 1919 Cecil Benjamin Smith, Oliver Stephen Smith, and Owen Christopher Chaundy had an antique shop here. Their partnership was dissolved on 31 December 1927, and Oliver Smith continued for a few more years on his own.

Since 1932 the shop has been a hairdresser’s.

Occupiers of 38 High Street

By 1839–1852+

John Sowter, Silversmith & working jeweller; watch & clock maker


Stratton & Strickland


George Stratton, Watchmaker & jeweller


W. J. Richards, Bookseller & winemerchant


Edwin Knibbs, Cigar and wine & spirit merchant


John Mitchell & Co., Cigar and wine & spirit merchant


G. T. Jones & Co., Wine merchants


Smith & Chaundy, Antique dealers(to 1923)

Smith Bros., Antique dealers (to 1928)

Oliver Smith, Antique dealers (to 1931)


Victor R. E. Drewe, Hairdresser


K. Williams (daughter of Victor Drewe), Hairdresser

By 1993–1995

Bernard’s (Bernard Washbrook), Men’s hairdre sser


High Street Barbers

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 August, 2016

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