Holywell Cottage, 3 St Cross Road

Holywell Cottage

This late seventeenth-century cottage is on the west side of St Cross Road (originally called Church Street), on the southern corner of Jowett Walk. It is owned by Merton College and is Grade II listed (1047129).

The Revd Vaughan Thomas, who was Vicar of Yarnton from 1803, is listed as living at Holywell Cottage in Pigot's Directory for 1830. He was still there at the beginning of 1841, but moved to Magdalen Gate House shortly afterwards. Some correspondence, however, gives his address as Holywell Lodge, and he may not actually have lived here. There may in fact have been more than one house with the same name, as in his Reminiscences of Oxford, William Tuckwell writes how in the early 1840s the Revd Edward Meyrick Goulburn, Vicar of Holywell, “brought his bride to the pretty little Holywell Cottage, now swept away”.

James Florey, a college servant, was definitely living at this Holywell Cottage by 1861, and in 1880 James Florey of Holywell Cottage was on the register of electors entitled to vote in Oxford. On 25 March 1893 a report in Jackson's Oxford Journal of a fire at 21 Bridport Street, St Ebbe's, stated that Mr James Florey of Holywell Cottage was the owner of the property, and that he was not insured. He was buried in Holywell Cemetery in 1895. His wife remained at Holywell Cottage until 1903.

Notwithstanding the above, an1866 directory lists Nathaniel Harrison the younger, the son of Nathaniel Harrison the elder of Holywell Mill, as living at Holywell Cottage: again, this may be a mistake for Holywell Lodge. Until their partnership was dissolved on 28 May 1869, the two Nathaniels worked together as coal merchants at the North-Western Wharf in Oxford. On 3 March 1866 an advertisement for “cuero guano” (manure) in Jackson's Oxford Journal named Nathaniel Harrison, a coal merchant of Holywell Cottage, as an agent for the company. On 6 July 1867 another advertisement gave the address of a young lady desirous of employment as “care of Mr. N. Harrison, Holywell Cottage”.

In the twentieth century various academics lived at Holywell Cottage. The last was John Jones, Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1978 to 1983, who was asked by Merton College to vacate the house.

In April 2006 Merton College was granted planning permission relating to Holywell Cottage for “change of use from dwelling house to student accommodation for 6 students. New arched doorway opening in boundary wall with cottage and 1 Holywell Street” (07/00247/FUL)

Holywell Cottage in the censuses


The Revd Vaughan Thomas (60) is listed as living in Holywell with Charlotte (50) and one male and two female servants, but this was not necessarily the right cottage: see above.


Hard to identify in the censuses, which list all of St Cross Road as “near the Church” and do not contain the names of the Floreys, listed in directories from 1861 to 1903.


John Lyttleton Etty (35), an unmarried schoolmaster, lived here alone with one servant.

Occupants of Holywell Cottage listed in directories etc.

Survey of Oxford

Uncertain. Possibly the second house listed on the west side with a frontage of 12 yds 2 ft 0 in and occupied by Dr Vansittart next to his bowling green

By 1830–1841

Revd Vaughan Thomas listed at Holywell Cottage

Later 1840s
& 1850s



James Florey, listed first as a college servant, then from 1880 as a gardener,
and finally from 1889 to 1894 lodging house

Mrs Florey, lodging house from 1895 to 1903


William Parker


John Lyttleton Etty, M.A.


Kenneth King Leys Munsie, M.A.
Fellow & Tutor in Modern History, University College


Ronald C. Johnston, M.A.
University Lecturer in French Philology & Old French Literature


David Whitteridge, D.M.
University Demonstrator in Physiology of Exeter College and later Fellow of Magdalen College

By 1952–1976+

Henry John Franklin Jones, M.A.
Tutor in Law and Fellow & Tutor of Merton College


John Jones
Professor of Poetry

Since 2006

Merton College student accommodation

Holywell home

© Stephanie Jenkins

Oxford History home