Wilberforce Temperance Hotel, 33, 34, & 35 Queen Street


This was built as two shops (No. 33 on the left and No. 35 on the right), with a fine double-arched entrance in the middle leading to the Wilberforce Temperance Hotel (No. 34) upstairs. The five-storey building was designed by F. W. Aubrey of Reading and built by Kingerlee of Oxford at a cost of £5,000. The date of 1888 is given over the central bay window on the second floor. The arms of the University and the City appear over the central entrance on the ground floor and again on the left and right gables at the top.

The following report appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 13 October 1888 (p. 6d):

THE WILBERFORCE TEMPERANCE HOTEL. – A noticeable block of buildings has arisen on the north side of Queen-street, on the site of some of the old shops and cottages which formerly stood there. It is known as the Wilberforce Temperance Hotel, there being two spacious shops on the ground floor, one on each side of the entrance, occupied by Mr. Kingerlee and Mr. Radbone. Mr. Kingerlee has two large rooms – one 70 ft. by 23 ft., and the back one 30 ft. by 24 ft., besides offices: and Mr. Radbone’s front shop is 40 ft. by 20 ft. The hotel entrance is by a double arch, the curve of each being three centred. The outer one is wider than the inner, and rests on two detached columns of polished red granite, on grey granite bases, with moulded blue granite capitals, with stone finials carried through the cornice above the ground floor windows. The building is in red brick, manufactured by Mr. Kingerlee himself, with Bath stone windows, string courses, and three large dormers in the attic. Over the central archway are bays on the first and second storey. In the centre of the circular head is a shield with the date of the building. The windows in this building, both below and above, look very curious; the four top ones more than anything reminding one of the open mouth of some monster, with huge teeth pointing inwards all round. In the centre of the gables at the west end are the University arms, and in the east those of the City. On the first floor there are dining, sitting, and 12 bedrooms in the hotel portion, billiard-room and offices. On the second floor 12 bedrooms, sitting-rooms, and offices, and on the third floor 12 more bedrooms, besides accommodation for servants, etc. The contract for the work was close upon 5000l,, and the building was erected from designs by Mr. Frederick W. R. Aubrey, of Reading.

The grocer Edward Radbone had the shop at No. 33 on the left and the builder Thomas Henry Kingerlee (who had built the shops and hotel) had the shop at No. 35 on the right.

On 1 September 1888 the hotel advertised daily luncheons comprising meat, potatoes, and cheese costing one shilling, with extras of soup at 6d and tea or coffee at 3d.

On 29 September 1888 that newspaper reported as follows on the application for a billiard licence at the hotel:

Mr. H. F. Galpin, solicitor, Corn Market-street, applied on behalf of Mr, Thomas Henry Kingerlee, builder, Mr. Edward Radbone, grocer, and Mr. Robert Jas. Grubb, baker, under section 75 of the Licensing Act of 1872, for a billiard licence in respect of the premises known as the Wilberforce Temperance Hotel, situate at No.34 Queen-street, Oxford.

That billiard licence was granted unanimously.

In 1916 the shops under the Wilberforce Temperance Hotel were still Radbone the grocer on the left, and Kingerlee's builder's merchants on the right.

Kingerlee 1916
Above: Advertisement inside the front cover of Kelly's Directory for 1915–16 showing a kitchener
sold by T. H. Kingerlee and Sons at their showroom here at 35 Queen Street.
This shop also sold paper hangings and baths and lavatory basis

On 1 January 2020 the building was sold for £11,000,000.

Later occupants of Nos. 33–35 Queen Street

The building was bought by Timpson's in the 1930s, and sold in 1987 (see tweet by James Timpson)

No. 33 on the left

  • Curtis & Horn Ltd, agricultural agents (1930, 1936)
  • William Timpson Ltd, boot makers (1938–1976+)

No. 34 upstairs (the hotel)

The Wilberforce Hotel at No. 34 survived until 1954. After that date the businesses there were as follow:

  • Harlequin Restaurant & Grill (Wilberforce Hotel Ltd, proprietors) (1956)
  • Fontana Hotel & Capri restaurant (Oxford Expresso Ltd) (1958–1960)
  • La Cortina di Capri restaurant (1967–1968)
  • Kam Hong restaurant (1970–1980+)

No. 35 on the right

Kingerlee remained in the shop on the right until 1960 (latterly sharing it with Blanchford's). After that date the shop was occupied as follows:

  • Grimbly Hughes grocers (1962)
  • Davis, Belfield & Everest, chartered quantity surveyors (1964)
  • Oxford Architects Partnership (1966–1980+)

In the late 1980s the hotel was completely rebuilt except for its façade.

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© Stephanie Jenkins