Oxford Ghost Signs: Dennis (decorator etc) at 46 Leckford Road

Leckford Road ghost sign

          Right: Advertisement in in Kelly's Directory for 1958

Phone 55769

George Henry Dennis (born 3 March 1906) moved into 46 Leckford Road with his wife Rhoda and their baby son Wayland in 1939, and he painted this sign (which is now very faded) on the side of the house in 1945/46 when he returned from war service in the RAF

Dennis advertisement

All four of George Dennis's sons (Wayland, Raymond, Christopher, and Richard) followed him into the business. The basement was used as their offices.

Bill Clinton arrived in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1968, and in his first year he and three other American students lodged upstairs in this house with the Dennis family. Wayland Dennis later said that he was “a thoroughly nice bloke, a well-mannered, well-behaved young American gentleman”:

When George Dennis's lease of 46 Leckford Road expired, it went back to St John's College. The last commercial entry for Dennis at this address in Kelly's Directory was in 1970. It reads: “Dennis & Sons (Decorators) Ltd, painters & decrtrs”.

46 Leckford Road from the side


More about 46 Leckford Road

The house was built by Williams and owned by St John's College, and the first leaseholder in 1881 was the Oxford Building Company, a building society that had taken over the leases of a number of houses in north Oxford when purchasers could not be found for them in a depressed housing market. This was probably one of the houses that the company mortgaged in 1883 before it collapsed.


At the time of the 1881 census the occupant of the house was Robert Buckell, a coal merchant who was later to become an estate agent and serve six times as Mayor of Oxford.


By 1889 the house decorator Thomas Ward lived here, and he was still in the house in 1938. He ran the firm T. Ward & Son, builders, from the property.


In 1974 the infamous drug dealer Howard Marks moved into this house with Rosie Lewis and her children while on bail.

  • Daily Telegraph, 8 July 2000: “46 Leckford Road: was this where Bill Clinton famously 'didn't inhale'?”
  • Oxford Times, 16 November 2001: “Former President Clinton 'digs' for sale”
  • Radio Oxford archive: Interview with Wayland Dennis about the history of the house when Clinton became President of the United States
  • Oxford Mail, 3 August 2016:“North Oxford home is fit for a president (and a notorious drug dealer)

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Stephanie Jenkins