East Oxford: Iffley Road

Iffley Road

The Iffley Road was known as the Henley Road in the nineteenth century. The Revd William Tuckwell, in his Reminiscences of Oxford (1901), wrote:

It was said in those days [the 1830s] that the approach to Oxford by the Henley Road was the most beautiful in the world. Soon after passing Littlemore you came in sight of, and did not lose again, the sweet city with its dreaming spires, driven along a road now crowded and obscured with dwellings, open then to cornfields on the right, to uninclosed meadows on the left, with an unbroken view of the long line of towers, rising out of foliage less high and veiling that after seventy more years of growth to-day. At once, without suburban interval, you entered the finest quarter of the town….

By 1875, the north-east side of the road already had the following groups of short terraces and detached villas built on the meadows, as well as three pubs:

19–25 (Portland Terrace)
27 (Rose Cottage)
29–31 (Grove Villas)
33–35 (Norfolk Villas)
The Cricketer’s Arms
Isis Hotel at 45-53 (Magdalen Terrace)
57–61 (Isis Villas)
67–73 (St John’s Terrace)
77–83 (Merton Terrace)
85–93 (Christ Church Terrace)
103–109 (Henley Terrace)
111–119 (Carlton Terrace)
125–127 (Prospect Villa)
The Old Ale House (Fir Tree Tavern)
165–171 (Cheshunt Terrace)
239–241 (Carlton Lodge Academy)
The Magdalen Arms

The Iffley Road had to be renumbered in 1892 because there was so much infilling in between these groups of terraces: the numbers given above are those used today.

Except for a house called Fairacres, there were no buildings at all on the south-west side of Iffley Road until the twentieth century.

Isis Hotel



Isis Hotel

The Isis Hotel today occupies all five houses of Magdalen Terrace, which is listed in directories from 1875. (The terrace was numbered 14–18 Iffley Road prior to 1892.) It is one of one of the earliest blocks of large houses to be built on the Iffley Road.

Nos. 51 and 53 (the two houses on the right of this advertising postcard) were known as the Isis Boarding House as early as 1894. The house on the left of the picture, No. 49, became part of the establishment in 1899, and by the end of the First World War, Nos. 45 and 47 had been taken in too.


The postcard below shows the Isis Boarding Establishment on the right.

The Isis Hotel on Iffley Road

Iffley Road

St John the Evangelist Church

St John the Evangelist Church in the Iffley Road, pictured above in 1905, was built as a mission church of the Society of St John the Evangelist (the Cowley Fathers) in 1894–6 to the designs of G. F. Bodley. The tower was added in 1902 and was originally intended to be higher. The building is Grade I listed.

The church, which is within the parish of SS. Mary and John, was used by the public as well as acting as the college chapel of St Stephen’s House.

Since 2012 it has been SJE Arts, an arts and concert venue.

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