Inns and hotels of Oxford

Angel Inn, High Street

Angel Hotel

Remains of Angel Inn

The above print shows the Angel Hotel, Oxford’s most important coaching inn, in the 1820s. The coach on the left is labelled Oxford / Cheltenham / London. There is an indistinct old sign behind the lamp over the main door reading INN ANGELL, while the name Gellett at first-floor level is that of Thomas Gellett, whom Pigot’s Directory lists as innkeeper in 1823.

Right: Most of the Angel was demolished in 1876 to make way for the Examination Schools, but the two right-hand bays, which were the inn’s coffee shop, still remain and have only been altered at ground-floor level

Clarendon (formerly Star) Hotel, west side of Cornmarket

The Clarendon Hotel

The Clarendon Hotel occupied the site of what is now the Cornmarket frontage of the Clarendon Centre. It was an ancient coaching inn, known as the Star for its first 400 years of life. Its front was replaced in 1783.

In 1863 the Star was acquired by the Clarendon Hotel Company and renamed the Clarendon Hotel.

In 1939 the hotel building was bought by Woolworth & Co. and was demolished in 1954 to make way for their new store, which in turn became Littlewood’s and was then demolished when the Clarendon Centre was built in 1983/4.

The Roebuck Hotel, east side of Cornmarket

Roebuck Hotel

The Roebuck Inn (so named in 1610 after the arms of Jesus College) originally faced Market Street, but by 1740, when it had become a large coaching inn on the London to Gloucester run, its yard and main entrance faced on to Cornmarket Street.

In 1850 it was rebuilt as a new hotel to rival the Star on the opposite side of Cornmarket, and in 1865 the coaching office together with an ostler’s house and Chaundy’s cigar shop were demolished so that the Roebuck Vaults could be built in Market Street as a tap to the main inn.

In 1924, the Roebuck Hotel was taken over by Woolworths, who later moved across the road and demolished the Clarendon Hotel.

In 1938 the old vaults were rebuilt and renamed the Roebuck. Boots PLC occupy the site of the former coaching inn.

The Golden Cross, east side of Cornmarket

Golden Cross

The Golden Cross (also known known as the Cross Inn) is numbered 5 Cornmarket Street but is set well back from the line of shops. Nothing now remains of the original twelfth-century inn, but the south range dates from the seventeenth century. The hotel closed in 1967, and there were extensive alterations in 1986 to turn this into a shopping area linked to the Covered Market.

Coach travel

The four hotels shown above were all ancient coaching inns. Two major roads crossed at Oxford's Carfax, and people in transit as well as those visiting the city were likely to stay here.

The Randolph Hotel, Beaumont Street

The first modern hotel in the centre of Oxford was the Randolph, built in the 1860s in the age of the railway with a direct omnibus service to the station.

Randolph Hotel

The Randolph Hotel in Beaumont Street was designed by William Wilkinson and built between 1863 and 1866. It is named after the Randolph Gallery (now the Ashmolean Museum) on the opposite side of the road. A detailed description of the new building is given in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 15 October 1864.

A brochure published around the time the above advertising postcard was issued states that the Randolph was:

… a first-class Hotel for families and gentlemen…. It contains many handsome suites of rooms with very charming prospects. It is fitted with an American elevator, and is supplied throughout with Electric Lighting. An omnibus meets all the most important trains. Carriages and horses can be obtained from the Randolph Stables adjoining the Hotel; there is also a large garage attached.

A notice appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 17 March 1866 announcing that the hotel was now open to the public, and that suites of apparments could be engaged.

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