1 Holywell Street

1 Holywell Street

No. 1 in 1876


Grade II Listed Building:
List Entry Number 1047263

This house probably dates from the seventeenth century but was re-cased in the late eighteenth century.

Owned by Merton College (as are all the houses on the north side as far west as No. 20 on the east corner of Mansfield Road).



The 1876 OS map (left) shows how vast this house was, with its enormous pleasure gardens, complete with two fountains, stretching to the north west.

The large extra square of garden incorporated to the north was the former Holywell Bowling Green.

In about 1800 Samuel Wilson Bishop, a London merchant, retired to this house. His fourth son, Charles Joseph Bishop (1794–1838), obtained his D.Med. from the University of Oxford in 1826 and practised as a physician here until his untimely death from a cerebral haemorrhage on 9 December 1838. His widow Elizabeth Copeland Bishop and her children spent the census night of 1841 with her father, Charles Tawney, in Paradise Street.

In the following year in Gloucestershire, Mrs Bishop married the surgeon Thomas Richard Fisher, Surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary, and they appear to have spent some time at this house and some at his practice in Cornmarket. After the suicide of her second husband on 4 November 1846, Mrs Fisher remained here with her children from both marriages, and is listed as the occupant of the house in Gardner’s Oxford Directory of 1852. Mrs Fisher remained here until her death on 20 February 1898 at the age of 89.

1 Holywell Street in the censuses


No listing, but presumably still occupied by Mrs Elizabeth Copeland Bishop, who spent census night with her father in Paradise Street.


Mrs Elizabeth Copeland Fisher (40), formerly Mrs Bishop and now widowed a second time, was living here with three daughters from her first marriage (Ann, Mary and Grace Bishop, aged respectively 18, 15 and 11) and three from her second marriage (Arthur, Emily, and Frances Fisher, aged respectively 7, 6, and 4). The family had two servants: a governess and three servants.


Mrs Elizabeth Copeland Fisher (51), was still living here with three of her daughters from her first marriage (Anne, Mary, and Martha Bishop, aged respectively 37, 25, and 21) and two of the children from her second marriage (Arthur and Emily Fisher,aged 17 and 16). They now had a governess and four domestic servants.


Miss Mary Bishop (34), described as a “dividend receiver” and the daughter of the householder [Mrs Fisher], was living here with her Oxford-born nephews Herbert Walton (7) and Walter Walton (4). The family still had five servants: a governess, lady's maid, cook, housemaid, and footman.


Mrs Elizabeth Copeland Fisher (71) was still living here, this time with her unmarried daughter Mary Bishop (45), and both are described as stock & share holders. Also living with her was her grandson Walter E. B. Walton (16), who was at school; her widowed sister Martha C. Tannard (67), who was also a stock & share holder; and her unmarried companion Elizabeth A. Collins (55). They had three servants (a cook, a housemaid, and a butler).


Mrs Elizabeth Copeland Fisher (81) was still living here with her companion Miss Elizabeth Collins (66) plus four servants (a cook, housemaid, kitchenmaid, and footman).


Sir Charles Arthur Roe (59), a widower retired from the Indian Civil Service, lived here with his married daughter Margaret Langworthy (29). He had four servants (a cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, and kitchenmaid).


Sir Charles Arthur Roe (69) still lived here, this time with his unmarried niece Florence Penny and three servants.

Occupants of 1 Holywell Street listed in directories etc.

Survey of Oxford

Frontage: 13 yds 0 ft 9 in
Mrs Nicholes


Charles Bishop


No listing


Mrs Elizabeth Fisher (formerly Mrs Bishop)
(in Private Resident list in 1852)


No listing


Sir Charles Arthur Roe, M.A., LL.D.
[Chief Judge, Chief Court of the Punjab 1895–1898]


Arthur Ernest Cowley, M.A., D.Litt., F.B.A.
Fellow of Magdalen and librarian of the Bodleian Library


Michael Holroyd, M.A.
Fellow & Senior Tutor, Brasenose College


St Hugh’s College House
(Miss E. E. S. Procter, MA)


Holywell House (Private Hotel)
The proprietor, Mrs Audrey Pidgeon, also ran the Holywell House School of Ballet here in 1947

Later just the Holywell Hotel


Change of use from private hotel to college annexe (74/00256/A_H)


Merton College annexe

Holywell home

© Stephanie Jenkins

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