26–27 Cornmarket Street: Pret à Manger

Timbered house

This building originally comprised three separate shops and probably dates from the fifteenth century, but was altered in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It belongs to Jesus College, and has always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

No. 26 is on the right of the group and No. 27 is in the middle, and they are jointly Grade II listed (list entry 1047325). The shop on the corner to the left, No. 28, is also a listed building, but under a separate reference, and it is dealt with separately here.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to H. E. Salter, No. 26 Cornmarket was then in the occupation of Mr Wootten and No. 27 of Mr Townsend, and each had a frontage of exactly 4 yards.

At the time of the 1841 census the fruiterer Robert Wharton lived here with his assistant Frederick Wharton and their servant, while the tailor Robert Couling lived at No. 27 with his wife Elizabeth and their three daughters. No. 26 was advertised thus for auction in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 19 March 1853:

Lot 3.—All those desirable FREEHOLD BUSINESS PREMISES, known as No. 26 Corn Market-street, Oxford, where for many years the business of a fruiterer has been extensively carried on by Mr. Wharton, the present occupier; comprising a front shop and sitting room attached on the ground floor (with private entrance thereto from the Anchor yard, and use of the pump therein), large sitting room and bed room on the first floor, and two bed rooms over, with excellent cellarage in the basement, and other conveniences.... Lot 3 is subject to a Land Tax of £1 10s. 9d. per annum.

In the 1870s Abraham Zacharias (who in the 1850s had been a silversmith, jeweller, and watch & clock maker at 2 Cornmarket) set up his son Joel Zacharias in business at No. 27 as a china and glass dealer.

In the late 1880s Joel Zacharias expanded into No. 26 to the south, and started selling waterproof clothing, and the two shops have been one since that date. By about 1896 he stopped selling china and glass altogether.

When Joel Zacharias died in 1905, the business was taken over by Henry Osborn King of Wolvercote, who was succeeded by his son Cecil. They retained the old name of Zacharias, and the business closed in 1983.

  • For extracts from an interesting early catalogue of Zacharias & Co, see Michael L. Turner and David Vaisey, Oxford Shops and Shopping, pp. 44–5
  • Photograph of the shop in c.1930

26 to 28 Cornmarket in the 1920s

The photograph above shows Zacharias's shop in the 1920s, advertising Wet Off coats. It looks very different today, as Jesus College extensively restored Nos. 26 & 27 in 1986–7 (planning application 85/00270/NFH and see photograph).

Occupants of 26 and 27 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No. 27 (left) No. 26 (right)


Robert Couling
Tailor & Confectioner (1839–1842)

Confectioner (1846)

Robert Wharton
Foreign Fruit & Italian Warehouse
Italian, foreign fruit and fish sauce warehouse
Dealer in British wines, Italian oil and fish sauce
(died aged 70 in 1875/6)

(also J. Harrison, Livery stable keeper, in 1839)


Mrs Wharton
Foreign fruiterer & Italian warehouse (by 1880}


John Piper
The Oxford Ale Stores


Abraham Zacharias
China and glass warehouse (to 1872+)

Joel Zacharias
Glass and china depôt (by 1880)


26 & 27: J. Zacharias & Co., Waterproof clothing manufacturers and
27: Joel Zacharias, China & glass dealer in 1890

Zacharias & Co., waterproof clothing manufacturers from 1899 to 1976


Laura Ashley




Sole Shoes

2008 to present

Pret A Manger

26–27 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


No. 26: Robert Wharton (30), a fruiterer, lived over his shop with his brother Frederick Wharton (25), an assistant fruiterer. They had one female servant.

No. 27: Robert Couling (45), a tailor, lived here over his shop with Elizabeth (40), Charlotte (20), Harriet (12) and Elizabeth (10).


No. 26: Robert Wharton (47), fruiterer, and his brother Frederick (37), assistant fruiterer, both still bachelors, continued to live here over their shop. They had one female servant.

No. 27: Robert Couling (55), a tailor, still lived here over his shop with with his wife Elizabeth (53) who was described a shopkeeper, and his daughters Elizabeth (20), and Harriet (22), who were respectively described as a mantua maker, and dressmaker.


No. 26: Frederick Wharton (45), still unmarried and described as the brother of the head of the household and a fruiterer’s shopman, was again living over the shop on census night with their housekeeper, a widow of 58.

No. 27: Robert Couling (65) was still living over his shop with his wife Elizabeth (64) and his nephew Henry Faulkner (17), described as a tailor’s assistant.


No listing for Nos. 26 & 27.


No. 26: Maryanne Wharton (49), described as a widow and a fruiterer, lived here with her son Robert (19) and one general servant.

No. 27: Listed as uninhabited. Joel Zacharias (29) who had a shop here was still living with his parents at 1A Cornmarket.


Nos. 26 & 27: Joel Zacharias (39), a waterproof manufacturer and glass & china dealer, had taken over both shops and lived upstairs with his wife Rebecca (27) and their children George (7) and Arthur (five months). They had a 16-year-old servant girl.


Nos. 26 & 27: Joel Zacharias (49), waterproof manufacturer, still lived here over his shop with his wife Rebecca (39) and their sons George (17), Arthur (10), and Victor (5). They had one servant.


No listing.

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