Oxford History: The High


90: Patisserie Valerie

90 High Street

No. 90, which is attached on its east side to University College, was built in 1612 by the apothecary John Williams. It was refronted in 1812, when an extra storey was added. It is now owned by University College, and there is student accommodation upstairs.

It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1369387). It marks the start of St Mary-the-Virgin, and has always been in that parish.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. No. 90 was then in the occupation of a Mr Fortnom, and its frontage measured 12 yards 0 feet 3 inches.

In about 1820 Joseph Vincent established a bookshop in St Mary’s Passage which soon expanded to become an important publishing house, printing many university brochures as well as famous lampoons, and in the 1830s the business moved to 90 High Street. When John Ruskin was an undergraduate at Christ Church (1836–40), his mother took on the lease of the upstairs part of these premises so she could keep a watchful eye on him, and his father joined her every weekend.

At the time of the 1851 census Joseph Vincent junior, the son of the founder, lived upstairs at No. 90 with his surgeon son Cyril and a general servant. In 1852 Joseph Vincent junior bought the old established Oxford University and City Herald, and it remained in the hands of his family and was published here at No. 90 until 1892. He still lived here in 1861 and 1871.

By 1881, William Vincent (described as a newspaper proprietor) lived over his shop with his wife, daughter, undergraduate son, and granddaughter, plus a printer’s apprentice and a housemaid.

In 1892 the firm was incorporated with Baxter’s Press at 126 High Street, where it survived until 1968.

Vincent’s Club was founded in this building in 1863. It moved to 6/7 High Street in 1894, and to its present address in King Edward Street in 1931.

Manchester New College (now Harris Manchester College) also had temporary premises here until it moved to its present site in 1893.

From 1925 to 1966 this shop was Oxford Valet Services.

Top hatTop hat sent by Oxford Valet Services to the Revd Julian Llewellyn Dove (1856–1948) to his address at 16 Stephen Headington, where he lived from at least 1935 to 1947. Reproduced by permission of the owner, Katy Hagan

English Heritage: 90 High Street: First-floor room

English Heritage: 90 High Street: Second-floor room

Occupiers of 90 High Street


C. J. Adams, Upholsterer & Cabinet maker


Joseph Vincent, Publisher, Bookseller, & Printer


Shepperd Bros., Tailors &c. [to 1893]

J. Vincent, Bookseller &c.


Charles Bates, Florist (1898 only)

Spencer, Son, & Co., Cycle agents

Upstairs: Lodging house


The Layton Garage


Oxford Valet Services


Chiltern Dry Cleaners Ltd.


Betjeman & Barton Tearoom

By 1998–2008

Agnès b


Patisserie Valerie

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 July, 2018

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