Oxford History: The High


37: Havana House and 38: Youngmans Hair

37 High Street

This pair of shops occupies a house dating from the sixteenth or early seventeenth century which was built on tthe site of a fourteenth-century hall. The oriel windows in the gables are supported by seventeenth-century brackets, and even the barge-board above the windows dates from the seventeenth century. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1116054). It was in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957.

In 1709 Magdalen College sold this building The Queen’s College, but in the end was not used in the redevelopment of Queen’s front quad.

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. 37 was then in the occupation of a Mr Taylor, and its frontage measured 4 yards 2 feet 8 inches, and No. 38 was then in the occupation of a Mr Malbone, and its frontage measured 4 yards 2 feet 4 inches.

Nos. 37 and 38 can be seen on the right next to The Queen's College in the 1834 engraving below:

33 to 38 High Street in 1834

No. 37

At the time of the 1851 census Joseph Abrams, the bookseller here, lived over the shop with his wife and four daughters.

This then became an engraver’s shop. In 1861 Mrs Eliza Clements, the proprietor of this shop after the death of her husband, lived here with her son John, who was an engraver and printer, her two daughters, and two lodgers. In 1881 Mrs Clements was still living upstairs, at the age of 83, with her unmarried daughter of 60, Miss Eliza Clements and her granddaughter Adeline Mary Clements. Miss Clements was running the house herself in 1891 with her niece Adeline Clements, and she kept a lodging house upstairs until well into the twentieth century.

The firm of the watchmaker John Rogers occupied this shop for over a hundred years from 1882 to 1983.

No. 38

At the time of the 1841 census John Sowter, a watchmaker, lived here over his shop with a boarder and two female servants. Born in London, he was still here in 1851, when he was aged 61 and still a bachelor, living over his shop with an apprentice, a servant, and an undergraduate lodger.

Another watchmaker, George Stratton, lived here over his business premises in 1861 with his nephew Charles Strickland.

By 1871 the upstairs premises were let out to the physician Robert Jenkins and his wife.

At the time of the 1881 census, Edwin Knibbs, the winemerchant here, lived over the shop with his wife, five children, and a domestic servant. He was described as an employer of two men.

In 1891 Sarah Mitchell, the wife of the proprietor of the wine shop downstairs, spent census night over the shop with her two daughters and their servant.

In 1911 Albert Edward Piper (40), a college servant, lived in the eight rooms over the wine merchant's shop with is wife and two sons and their servant girl.

From 1919 Cecil Benjamin Smith, Oliver Stephen Smith, and Owen Christopher Chaundy had an antique shop here. Their partnership was dissolved on 31 December 1927, and Oliver Smith continued for a few more years on his own.

Since 1932 this shop has been a hairdresser’s.

Occupiers of 37 & 38 High Street


No. 37

No. 38


Elizabeth Eaglestone, Milliner & Dressmaker

John Sowter
Silversmith & working jeweller


Joseph Abrams, Bookseller


John Stevens, Hatter


John Clements [Mrs Clements from 1872],

Upstairs: J. W. Wylie, Watchmaker

Stratton & Strickland


George Stratton
Watchmaker & jeweller


W. J. Richards
Bookseller & winemerchant


Edwin Knibbs
Cigar and wine & spirit merchant



John Rogers
Watchmaker & engraver [later Jeweller]



John Mitchell & Co.
Cigar and wine & spirit merchant


G. T. Jones & Co., Wine merchants


Smith antique dealers:

Smith & Chaundy (to 1923)
Smith Bros. (to 1928)
Oliver Smith (to 1931)


Victor R. E. Drewe


K. Williams (daughter of Victor Drewe above)





Bernard’s (Bernard Washbrook)
Men’s hairdresser

By 1996–1999

Avery Pipes

High Street Barbers


Frederick Tranter, Tobacconist


Havana House


Youngmans Barbers

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 January, 2021

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