38 Holywell Street, and Bennett’s/Bailey’s Yard

38 Holywell Street

No. 38 was originally just the narrow blue house on the right of the above photograph, and is a Grade II Listed Building: List Entry Number 1047236. It dates from the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century.

The new low building to the left occupies the site of a small commercial building that once had the narrow entrance to Bennett’s/Bailey’s Yard to the east and the wider entrance to King’s Arms Yard to the west.

38 Holywell in 1876


The 1876 OS map (left) shows Bailey’s Yard immediately behind the narrow listed building, No. 38. This belonged to the blacking manufacturer James Bailey in the mid-nineteenth century.

Bailey’s Yard looks much the same on the Longmate map of 1773.

This yard was completely enclosed except for a narrow entrance just to the west of No. 38.

(The much wider entrance further to the west leads to King’s Arms Yard, and is now disguised by the frontage of the shop at No. 39 next door.)


King’s Arm Yard was painted by J. A. Shuffrey in c.1907 (OXCMS: 2002.74,7, pictured on p. 43 of Lauren Gilmour and Margaret Shuffrey, J. A. Shuffrey 1859–1939: An Oxford Artist’s Life Remembered). This painting shows the two buildings to the east of the yard, which have been replaced by Holywells.


Below: The advertisement on the left was placed in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 1 July 1815; the photograph on the right, showing the tall narrow No. 38 and a low office, dates from 1912.


38 Holywell



James Bailey himself died in 1856, and the following notice appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 11 October 1856:

GRATEFULLY acknowledges the assistance of those kind friends by which she is enabled to carry on the Manufacturing of BLACKING, being obliged to relinquish the Shoemaking Business, and respectfully solicits a continuance of the patronage of the University and the public in general to aid her in her endeavours to provide for the support of herself and five fatherless children.
N.B. Liquid and Paste Blacking may be had at the manufacturer’s price, at No. 38 HOLYWELL STREET, two doors from the King’s Arms Hotel.

In 1970 the old office between No. 38 and 39 was demolished by Wadham College, and Blackwell’s Music Shop was fitted into the gap. Pevsner wrote of the new building:

The shop front is in Holywell Street, and its façade is the one disappointment [of Wadham’s Holywell Court development]. It creates a disturbance in the even front of the houses in the street, and it is itself not valuable enough to put one in a forgiving mood.

When Blackwell’s Music Shop moved to Broad Street in c.2000, this building was converted into a restaurant, first called Next Door and then Holywells. It is now a private facility of Wadham College.

Nos. 35, 36, 37, and 38 Holywell Street now comprise Staircases XIII and XIV of Wadham College to the north. But these premises may soon be undergoing changes, as the following planning applications were submitted in respect of the former “Next Door/Holywells” restaurant in October 2009:

  • 09/01720/LBC
    Alterations and extensions including 3 storey entrance building, external staircase, pergolas and walkways; internal alterations including new staircases, cutting back half-level floor plate, new partitions and reinstatement of bookcases, to convert restaurant to graduate learning centre
  • 09/01721/FUL
    Change of use from restaurant and bar (use class A3) to graduate learning centre (use class D1). Erection of 3 storey entrance building in Back Quad, external staircase and landscaping features including pergolas and walkways
  • 09/01722/LBD
    Demolition of upper floors (three levels above ground floor) and replacement with 3 levels of student accommodation
  • 09/01723/FUL
    Demolition of upper floors (three levels) of student/ office accommodation and replacement with 3 levels of student accommodation
Bennett’s or Bailey’s Yard

This yard behind No. 38 was known as Bennett’s Yard at the time of the 1851 census, when it was occupied by five families surnamed Wiggings, Neighbour, Roberts, Rogers, and Williams.

The directory for 1871 lists C. Haynes, James Cattle, Edward Hunt, and J. Prescott at 2, 3, 5, and 6 Bennett’s Yard respectively.

By 1876, as the map above shows, it had at last taken the name of its new owner, Bailey.

38 Holywell Street and the Yard in the censuses


The 1841 census for Holywell does not give house numbers, but it is possible to deduce where people listed that year lived by examining directory entries between 1839 and 1842 and later censuses

William Shepperd (28), a hairdreser, lived here with Harriet (20)
John Reynolds (55), a college servant and Mary (55) are listed in the same household

Bennett's Buildings

Joseph Jones (35), a baker, lived here with Elizabeth (35), Emma (5), Thomas (4), Caroline (2), and Louisa (five mohts

Thomas Hill (25), a college servant, lived here with Jane (20) and Eliza Barnes (20)

Thomas Allsop (20), a porter, lived here with Caroline (20), and Eliza Hicks (4).


No. 38
James Bailey
(33), a boot & shoe maker, lived here with his wife Elizabeth (34) and their children Charles (10), Frank (8), and William (4 months), and James’s uncle Edwin Grainge (41), who was a compositor.

Bennett’s Yard

No. 1: John Wiggings (36), a baker, lived here with his wife Mary (37) and their lodger.

No. 2: Charles Neighbour (75), a former groom, lived here with his wife Harriet (61), who was a college kitchen woman. They had a “servant of all work”.

No. 3: Edward Roberts (37), a master baker, lived here with his wife Harriet (40) and their children Edward (14), who was a baker’s assistant), Harriet (10) and Mary Ann (1). Also living with them was Edward’s widowed mother-in-law, Harriet Wild (79), who is described as a pauper, and his unmarried sister-in-law Marion Wild (30), who “being afflicted receives outdoor relief”. They also had a lodger.

No. 4: Walter Rogers (21), a groom, lived here with his wife Jane (25). Another groom lodged with them.

No. 5: Edward Williams (39), a groom, lived here with his wife Elizabeth (38). Thomas Osborne (29), another groom, lived here with his wife Susannah (30), who was an upholsteress.


Emmanuel Miles (39), a blacking maker, lived here with his wife Elizabeth (44) and his children Frank (17), William (15), and David Miles (14). Also living with him are three more children presumably by an earlier marriage of his wife: William Bailey (10), Arthur Bailey (8), and George Bailey (6). Their surname explains how Bailey’s became Miles’s blacking manufactory. An uncle and aunt also live with him.


Emmanuel Miles (49) still manufactured blacking, and lived here with his wife Elizabeth (53) and his stepson Arthur Bailey (18). They had one lodger

Bennett’s Yard

No. 1: Edward Hurst (26), a tailor's marker, lived here with his wife Mary (43) and their children Edward (17), who was a printer's apprentice, Mary (15), Fanny (11), Agatha (9), and Florence (6).

No. 2: Charles Haynes (26), a tailor, lived here with his wife Martha (27) and their daughter Esther (2).

No. 3: Alfred Miller (28), a porter, lived here with his wife Jane (23) and a lodger.

No. 4: John Prescott (62), a wood turner, lived here with his wife Emma (55) and their nephew Thomas Hyde (6).

No. 5: Martha Macray (55), a widow, lived here with her grandson Ron Haynes (6) and a lodger.


Emmanuel Miles (60) was still a blacking manufacturer here. Now a widower, he was living with his unmarried daughter Sarah (38), who was a dressmaker, and they had John W. Dickeson, junior (33), a billiard-table keeper, as their lodger.


Emmanuel Miles (70). descrobed as a blacking maker & jobbing upholsterer, lived here on his own with his housekeeper.


William Browning (43), a college bursary clerk, lived here with his wife Sarah (42), a lodging house keeper. They had a lodger, Bert Walmseley (28), who was a piano tuner, and he is listed as a separate household here.


Arthur Smith (42), a college servant, lived here with his wife Annie (42) and his children Hinton (14), Norah (9), and Herbert (4), plus one domestic servant.

Occupants of 38 Holywell Street listed in directories etc.


The business beside and
behind 38 (often numbered 39A)

The house at 38

Survey of Oxford

Frontage: 8 yds 1 ft 4 in
Mr Payton: stable

Frontage: 3 yds 1 ft 6 in
Mr Kibblewhite

1839, 1842

Joseph Jones, Baker (1839)

William Shepperd, hair dresser & perfumer (1842)


James Bailey (died 1856)
Boot & shoemaker and blacking manufacturer

Mrs E. M. Bailey, blacking manufacturer
with E. Boswell, baker (1861)

Mrs Ann White
Listed as private resident at 38


Mrs E. M. Bailey

with William Kerry at 38½ and
George William Lowe,
teacher of the pianoforte at 38a in 1861


Emmanuel Miles


John R. Stroud
livery stables

House not listed


Baker’s Blacking Manufactory
Emmanuel Miles
with W. Franklin, livery stables in 1889

Emmanuel Miles, Blacking maker
in 1894–1899


William Browning


James William Hearn

Benjamin James Wells
Lodging house


Arthur William Smith


Cornelius Hodgkins


Miss I. H. Morris-Smith


39A: King’s Arms Garage
Cars & cycles for hire; drive yourself.
Tel. No. 890

House not listed


39A: Percival’s Motors
(Percy A. Skinner, proprietor: motor cars for hire)

Later Percival’s Motors & Coaches,
then just Percival’s Coaches


Blackwell’s Music Shop
+ Percival’s Coaches


Restaurant: first “Next Door”,
then “Holywells


Conference facility of Wadham College

Part of Wadham College

Holywell home

© Stephanie Jenkins

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