Oxford History: The High


50: Oxford Blue

50 High Street

No. 50 is the second from left of a long, mock-Tudor range (shown below) that was rebuilt by Magdalen College in 1901.

The group at 49–52 High Street is jointly Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047282).

It is built of brick covered with rough-cast, and has Brize Norton stone roof tiles. The architect was E. P. Warren and the builder Messrs Benfield & Loxley.

There is an archway in the middle leading to the St Edmund Hall buildings behind.

As four large shops fronts replaced six smaller old ones, the numbers 53 and 54 High Street disappeared for ever in the process.

49-52 High Street

Joseph Thornton opened his first bookshop in Magdalen Street in 1835, and moved to 51 High Street (then on the site of the present No. 50) in 1840. The 1851 census shows him living here at the age of 42 with his wife and six children, plus a servant and nursemaid. In 1853 he moved back to Magdalen Street, and in 1863 to 10 Broad Street, and then to 11 Broad Street in 1870 (where his shop, Thornton’s Bookshop, survived until 2002). There was still a William Thornton living here at 50 High Street, however, in 1871.

When this row of shops was demolished in 1901, the business Hine & Son relocated from the old 51 to the new No 52 a little to the east, where it remained until it moved to Wantage in October 1998. The Masonic Temple was built behind this row of shops in 1906: it included an apartment measuring 50 x 30 feet, a large banqueting or ball room measuring 70 x 35 feet with a gallery at one end, and other smaller rooms. It later became the Forum dance hall.

Occupiers of the site of the present 50 & 51 High Street
Darker background = former buildings on this site, now demolished

In 1901 this range of buildings was rebuilt, with six shops becoming just four, so it is not possible to correlate the premises in the nineteenth century with those in the twentieth. It is assumed here that the present No. 50 occupies the site of part of the old 50, plus No. 51


Part of the former 50 High Street

Former 51 High Street

By 1846–1853

Hawtin Pearson
Watch & clockmaker

Joseph Thornton


William Robinson
Hairdresser & perfumer

Hine & Son
Tailors and robe makers


Frank Wright Jeffs

William Hine (executors of)

Present buildings


50 High Street

50A High Street (behind)


George E. Weeks & Co.

University lodging house to 1912, then
Masonic Buildings


Leslie Chaundy, Bookseller (1921 only)

Penrose & Palmer

Masonic Buildings


Peter Audley-Miller
Antique dealer

The Forum Restaurant


William Ridler
Antique dealer

St Edmund Hall accommodation


Chinese Art Gallery Centre

By 1998–2000

Gifts from the Grange


Vintage Magazine Company


Bajan Blue swimwear


Oxford Blue

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 August, 2016

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