Oxford History: The High


King Edward Street

King Edward Street

King Edward Street leads southwards to Oriel Square, and is much wider than other roads running off the High because it was only created in 1873. It was given this name immediately. Jackson's Oxford Journal reported on 11 October 1873:

The new street leading from High-street to Bear-lane — known as King Edward-street — is now formed, and the various shops are being rapidly fitted up, and some of them will be ready for business this Term. The street is 40 feet wide, with a roadway of 22 feet, and a pavement on each side.

Until 1873, a group of shops ran continuously along the High at this point, but the shops then numbered 109 and 110 were demolished to make way for the new road. Swan Court, which ran between Nos. 110 and 111, was also removed at this time.

The street is flanked by shops that were built at the same time as the street: No. 108 on the east corner more or less occupies the site of the original house with that number, but the shop on the west corner (Shepherd & Woodward) has scooped up the missing numbers, and calls itself Nos. 109–113 (when in fact it occupies the site only of the former Nos. 111, 112, and 113). This gives the misleading impression that the road had always been here.

The Oriel College plan below dated 1814 shows the row of shops that ran in an unbroken line westwards from No. 102 on the corner of Oriel Street, ending on the map with James Wyatt’s house at No. 115 just peeping in:

King Edward Street area shops

The occupiers of this row of shops in 1814 were (left to right):

115: Wyatt
114: Holmes
113: Archer        )
112: Routledge ) [These three shops are now Shepherd & Woodward, with the number 109–-113]
111: Winter        )
Here was Swan Court, named on plan
110/109: Bridgewater [removed to make way for King Edward Street]
108: Allen
107: Jones
106: Robinson
105/104: Sadler
103: Loder
102: West

Below: detail showing Bridgewater’s shop, which was removed along with Swan Court to the left


One of the houses demolished to make way for this road, No. 109, belonged to Balliol College, and its history from 1365 onwards can be found in H. E. Salter, The Oxford Deeds of Balliol College (Oxford, 1913), pp. 204–211.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 June, 2018

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