Oxford History: The High


131: Payne & Son

131 High Street

No. 131 dates from the fifteenth century, but the front was altered in the eighteenth century and bay windows inserted. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1047261).

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. No. 131 was then in the occupation of a Mrs Puffet, and its frontage measured 4 yards 2 feet 8 inches.

At the time of the 1851 census John Withers, the chemist who then had this shop, lived upstairs with his wife, his younger brother Frederick, and a servant.

In 1861 James Sheard, a watchmaker and jeweller, had his business here, living upstairs with his wife and four children and two servants. He was still here in 1871, when he was described as a goldsmith, and in 1881, when his son, Henry Vaughan Sheard, was also described as a jeweller.

In 1888 George Septimius Payne of Payne & Son (founded in 1790 in Wallingford by John Payne of London) bought Alderman Sheard’s business, and the firm is still there.

Dog and clock

There is an old model of a dog guarding a large clock-face in its mouth over the shop front (right).

The passage beneath this sign leads to the Chequers Inn behind.

English Heritage: No. 131 (Payne & Son) in 1911, showing the dog

Occupiers of 131 High Street


W.C. & J.G. Last, Linen drapers & Silk mercers


Charles A. Green, Cabinet maker

By 1851–1852+

John Withers, Chemist & druggist

Before 1861–1888

J. Sheard, Watchmaker & jeweller


Payne & Son, Goldsmiths

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 August, 2016

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