10–11 Holywell Street

10-11 Holywell Street

Grade II Listed Building: List Entry Number 1369394. This pair of houses dates from the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century.

Owned by Merton College.

No. 10

In the mid-eighteenth century this house was occupied by a Dr Keill, followed by the mercer William Thorp and his wife Joan Pitt. The following extract from a letter dated 13 January 1749/50 written by Dr Humphrey Owen, Principal Librarian of the Bodleian, to Dr Richard Rawlinson describes the house:

I have made enquiry about a house proper for a gentleman of your description but can hear of no one that is in a good situation where you can be properly accommodated, except at one Mr. Thorp’s a stocking weaver in Holywell and a very honest man: the same Dr Keill formerly lived in, which has a very pretty garden and outlet into the Parkes, who would be very glad to receive a gentleman of your character.

William Thorp's great-grandson William Thorp (1785–1869), who was Mayor of Oxford for the first time in 1833/4, came to live here in 1834, when he was a widower of 49, with his orphaned nieces and nephew (Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Susan, and Francis William Joy). He served again as Mayor in  1844/5 and 1848/9. By 1851 he lived here with his widowed sister Mrs Susannah Folker and his niece Mary Joy, plus two servants. He then moved across the road to a smaller house in Holywell Street.

No. 11

This became a lodging house in 1884, run by William Butler Huggins and his wife Louisa.

Tim Williams, the son of Dr Robert Williams (now Professor Bob Williams FRS) remembers living here as a child around 1960:

The house was a funny house with a winding stair case that ran from the top to the bottom of the house. I fell down it several times. The top floor of the house only had two rooms. The ground floor had a dining room facing the street and a “dump” room with a sliding door. A corridor ran the whole length of the left hand wall of the house from the front door to scullery at the back through the kitchen. Between the dump room and the kitchen there was a light well which allowed natural light to penetrate to the dump room. On the first floor my father had a study at the back of the house. The living room was the room facing the street on the first floor.

10–11 Holywell Street in the censuses


The 1841 census for Holywell does not give house numbers, but it is possible to deduce where people listed that year lived by examining directory entries between 1839 and 1842 and later censuses

No. 10
William Thorp (55), described as a Magistrate and Alderman and a retired hosier and mercer, lived here with his widowed sister Mrs Susannah Folker (57) and his niece Mary Joy (26). They had two servants.

No. 11
Does not appear to be listed


No. 10
William Thorp (65), described as independent, lived here with his orphaned nieces Sarah, Mary, and Susannah Joy, who are all mistakenly recorded as being 15, and one female servant.

No. 11
John A. Dale, M.A. (34), a natural philosopher and proprietor of railway shares, lived here with one servant.


No. 10
Maria Chambers (33), a London-born officer’s wife, lived here with her children Josephine (11), Kate (10), Hugh (6), George (5), and Rose (2). The first four children were born in the East Indies, and the last in Leamington. The family had two servants, a cook and a nursemaid.

No. 11
William Solloway (34), a Gloucestershire-born cattle dealer, lived here with his Oxford-born wife Kate (33) and their children Henry (8), Elizabeth (5), Frank (4), and Major (1). They had an undergraduate lodger.


No. 10
Joseph Chambers
 (56), a retired army officer, lived here with his wife Maria (43) and their children Emma (27), Catherine (24). Joseph (16), George (15), and Rose (12). They had two servants (a cook and housemaid).

No. 11
George Barnes (37), a college servant, lived here with his wife Martha (49). They had one servant.


No. 10
Katharine H. Hopkins
(50), a widowed fundholder, lived here with her daughters Gertrude (24) and Magdalen (22). They had two servants: a cook and a housemaid.

No. 11
The head of the household was away, and the house was occupied by his/her unmarried niece Martha M. Gambel (22) and a 15-year-old servant girl.


No. 10
Katharine H. Hopkins
(60) still lived here with her daughter Gertrude (34) and her grandson Richard Hopkins (6). They had two servants (a cook and a house/parlour maid).

No. 11
William Huggins (38), a post office clerk, lived here with his wife Louisa (43) and their children Louisa (15), who was a dressmaker's apprentice, Henry (14), William (12), Ada (9), and Elsie (6).


No. 10
William Chamberlain (51), a gardener, lived here with his wife Eliza (54), who was a lodging house keeper.

No. 11
William Cambray (43), a house decorator, lived here with his wife Charlotte (32), who was a lodging house keeper, and his children Emily (15), who was a dressmaker’s apprentice; William (13); and Lottie (11).

The enumerator lists a New College household between Nos. 10 & 11 Holywell Street: Professor John Townsend (32) lived here with an undergraduate. As they had no servants, presumably it was above the two houses and part of the lodgings.


No. 10
William Cambray (55), a university lodging house keeper, lived here with his wife Charlotte (47) and his children Louise (24) and William (23).

No. 11
Arthur Ernest Higginson (35), a compositor, lived here with his wife Sarah (36).

Occupants of 10–11 Holywell Street listed in directories etc.

  No. 11 (left) No. 10 (right)

Survey of Oxford

Frontage: 10 yds 1 ft 6 in
Mrs Guy


John Musgrove
Butler of Magdalen Hall

(Alderman) William Thorp, Esq
Private resident (by 1840)


William Solloway
Cattle dealer

Major/Lt-Col. Joseph Chambers


George Barnes
Lodging house


Mrs Christopher


Not listed

Mrs Katharine Hopkins
Widowed fundholder


William Butler Huggins
Lodging House Keeper & Post Office clerk
Declared bankrupt in February 1894


Frederick Augustus Dixey
Fellow & Junior Bursar, Wadham College


William Chamberlain
University lodgings

William Cambray
University lodgings


Mrs Higginson
University lodgings


George Leonard Prestige

Edward Cecil Foster, M.R.C.S.


E. Llewellyn Woodward, MA
Fellow of All Souls College
and Tutor to New College

Keith Feiling


John Reginald H. Weaver, M.A.


Wiliam Geofrrey Commeline,
M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.P.H

Raymond Greene
Physician & surgeon


James Edward Meade, M.A.
Bursar of Hertford College


Mrs Constance Helen Ellison
(wife of Lieut-Col. Edward James
Oborne Ellison serving in Royal Marines)

Harold Harley
Physician & surgeon


William Calvert Kneale, M.A.
Fellow of Exeter College


Gerard Alaric Ballancer,
B.A., M.B., B.Ch.
Physician & surgeon


Robert Joseph Paton Williams,
M.A., D.Phil.
Fellow of Wadham College


Harold Charles Harley, M.A., B.M., B.Ch.
Physician and Surgeon
(with Bent Juel-Jenson in 1958)


No listing


Roger W. Morgan


No listing


C. Plumer

John A. Godwin


Merton College houses

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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