Oxford History: The High


Turl Street

Turl Street

Turl Street (or “The Turl”) runs northwards off the High Street between the Mitre Hotel to the west and All Saints Church (now Lincoln College library) to the east. It has been closed to traffic (except for access) since 1985.

Turl Street was called St Mildred’s Street in 1363, but was known as Turl Gate Street by the mid-seventeenth century. It acquired this name from a twirling gate (demolished in 1722) which was in a postern in the city wall. The part to the south of Ship Street was known as Lincoln College Lane in 1751.

Originally the Turl came to an abrupt halt at its junction with Ship Street, where it hit the city wall and the twirling gate. By 1551 it was extended by a path (known as “The path leading from the Hole in the Wall”) to reach what is now Broad Street, and in 1722 the gate was removed altogether.

On the east side of the street are Lincoln and Exeter Colleges, and on the west Jesus College — “the little colleges that front the Turl” (Betjeman). There are also shops on the west side, some of which date from the seventeenth century.

The following businesses are listed in the Turl in Pigot’s Directory for 1823/4:

  • Attorneys: Robert MORRELL and Daniel TAUNTON
  • Booksellers & Stationers: Joseph PARKER
  • Coffee houses: Joseph DICKESON
  • Confectioners and Fruiterers: James HILLIER
  • Glovers & Breeches Makers: Richard HICKMAN
  • Music & Musical Instrument Sellers: M. WICKENS
  • Printsellers, Carvers, & Gilders, & Picture frame makers: Thomas TAYLOR
  • Professors (Music): William WOODCOCK, M.B.
  • Tailors & Drapers: DAVENPORT & Son
  • Taverns and Public Houses:Maidenhead: Thomas HOLLIS and Saddler’s Arms: J. WALLIS
  • Whitesmiths, &c.: J. ROBINSON
  • Saddlers, &c.: Richard SECKHAM


©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 18 April, 2018

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