Oxford History: The High

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92–93: Old Bank Hotel


92 & 93

The main part of the Old Bank Hotel with its nine arches dates from the eighteenth century, but it was not all built at the same time: the original four bays on the right (No. 93) were built in 1775 on the site of George Hall, while the five bays on the left (No. 92) were added to match in 1798.

The building is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047250). It has always been in the parish of St Mary-the-Virgin.

The 1772 Survey of Oxford shows a Mr Couldrey occupying the site of the present 92 High Street (with a frontage of 11 yards), and a Mr Miller, a Mr Routledge and William Fletcher all on the site now occupied by 93 High Street (with a joint frontage of 9 yards 3 ft 11in.).

In early 1775, Jackson’s Oxford Journal stated that the partnership of Wickham & Fletcher Mercers had been dissolved in July 1773, and that henceforth the business would be carried on by Fletcher alone. Fletcher had No. 93 rebuilt at about this time.

By 1781 another mercer, John Parsons, had his shop next door at No. 92. On 24 March 1781 it was announced in the newspaper that William Fletcher of No. 93 had entered into partnership with John Parsons at No. 92, but that their business would initially continue in both shops.

Fletcher, Parsons, & Co. were still described as linen drapers in Oxford in the Universal British Directory of 1794; but Messrs Fletcher and Parsons are also listed in that directory under the heading BANKERS, and it is stated that they drew on John Rose Drewe. The banking side of their business soon grew in importance, and left-hand side of the present building was built in 1798. For a short while the bank was Fletcher, Hanwell, & Parsons. By this time Herbert Parsons, cousin of John Parsons, was the banker.

The bank was already referred to as the “Old Bank” in Jackson's Oxford Journal o 18 November 1797

John Parsons died in 1814, and he left an interest in the Old Bank to his cousin, the gunsmith James Thomson, who had married his sister Sarah Parsons. Parsons also appears to have made William Fletcher's sister's son the mercer Thomas Robinson a partner. Hence in Pigot's Directory of 1823/4 “Fletcher, Parsons, Thomson & Robinson” are listed as bankers in the High Street, with no mention of drapery.

The Revd W. Tuckwell in his Reminiscences of Oxford describes the Old Bank back in the 1830s. He appears to have (wrongly) believed that the bank had been founded in c.1810; that Parsons was the brother (rather than the cousin) of the Master of Balliol; and that it had been founded by Thomson and Parsons, rather than Fletcher and Parsons:

The Old Bank stood where now it stands, already some twenty years old. It was founded by two tradesmen – Thomson, a gunsmith, and Parsons, a draper, the latter brother to Dr. Parsons, Master of Balliol and Bishop of Peterborough. Passing gallantly through the money panic of 1825, when Walter Scott was ruined and half the banks in England broke, it rose into high repute, obtained the deposits of all the Colleges and retains probably most of them to-day under the grandsons of its founders.

Two partners of the Old Bank died in 1839: Herbert Parsons, the cousin of John Parsons, in Oxford early in the year, and James Thomson, Esq., one of the two original founders, at the Old Bank at the age of 89 on 11 July. Thomas Robinson now became the senior partner in the bank, which was renamed Robinson, Parsons, & Thomson.

At the time of the 1851 census the banker John Parsons (51), (probably the son of Herbert Parsons) lived over Nos. 92 and 93 with his wife Eliza (45) and their children Herbert (29), who was also a banker), Elizabeth (27), Sarah (25), and Henry (7). The family of six had eight general servants. The death of his son Guy (16) at Rugby in 1853 was announced in The Times.

John Parsons and his wife were still living over the Old Bank in 1861, when just one of their sons, John, described as an assistant in the bank, lived with them; but they still had seven servants.

In 1871 William Rogers Phillips, a bank cashier, lived over No. 92 with his wife, three children, and two servants, while at No. 93 only the servants were at home. The situation was the same in 1881.

Until 1883 the Bank was listed in directories at No. 92, with No. 93 being occupied by the bank manager.

In 1900 the bank was taken over by Barclays.

In 1901 Francis Williams, a bank cashier, lived over No. 92 with his wife, four children, and two servants; while a banker’s clerk and a housekeeper lived at No. 93.

In about 1990 the house next door (No. 94) became part of the Old Bank.

This branch of Barclays Bank closed down in 1998 and permission was granted to turn the three houses then comprising the Old Bank into a hotel (98/00867/NFH).

In 2006 the Old Bank Hotel expanded into No. 91 to the east, so it now occupies the site of four houses in the High Street.

More information about this building:

Occupiers of 92, & 93 High Street

Date

No. 92

No. 93

c.1810–1883

Parsons, Thomson & Co. (c.1810)

Fletcher, Parsons, Thomson, & Robinson (1839)

Robinson, Parsons, & Thomson, Bankers (1846–1852)

Parsons, Thompson, Parsons & Co, Old Bank (1866–1883)

John Parsons, Esq

(Mrs Parsons by 1875)

1887–1900

Parsons, Thomson & Co., Oxford Old Bank

1901–1998

Barclay & Company Ltd, later Barclays Bank Ltd, then:
Barclays Bank PLC (Old Bank)

1999–present

Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 June, 2018

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