40 Holywell Street (King's Arms)

40 Holywell Street

Grade II Listed Building: List Entry Number 1335897 (jointly with main part of the King’s Arms on the corner).

This house dates from the early eighteenth century. It is owned by Wadham College.

On 18 September 1607, when a licence was granted to “Thomas Francklyn of Holywell, dwelling at a house called the Augustyn Friers, which is very fit for an inn” to open his inn here with the sign of the King’s Arms on 18 September 1607. This is the present King’s Arms at the north-west end of Holywell Street. The following year, there was plague in Oxford, and it may have struck at this inn, for the council record for 30 July 1608 states:

It is agreed that some two women shalbee procured to goe into Francklin’s howse to bury the mayde that is now dead, and that they shalbee kept with sufficient dyet and mayntenaunce either in that howse or in some cabin that shalbee buylt; and moreover that order shalbee taken for erecting of cabins as necessitie shall requier in place conveinent as may bee gotten.

Richard Ward announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 21 June 1777 that he had purchased the King's Arms Inn, and that it was fitted up in the most commodious manner and new furnished.

John Cecil was the landlord here until his death in July 1788, and then his widow Elizabeth took over. On 24 April 1792 she took out an advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal, where she stated that the great part of the King's Arms had been “rebuilt upon a very enlarged Plan, the Whole new furnished”. Then on 11 June 1791 she advertised:


ELIZABETH CECIL takes this Method of acquainting her Friends and the Publick, That she has rebuilt and greatly enlarged the above INN; which she has also new furnished and fitted up in the neatest Manner for the Reception and Accommodation of such of the Nobility, Gentry, and Others as shall be pleased to honour the House with their future favours:— She also feels it is her duty most gratefully to acknowledge the kind Patronage she has experienced since the death of her late Husband; the continuation of which she hopes to merit by the most unremitted attention to the Business, and by constantly providing the best Wines and neatest Liquors of every Kind; together with a well Stored Larder, due Continence, and civil Treatment.

N.B. Neat Post Chaises, Post Coach &c. careful Drivers, and fresh able Horses.— NO STAGE COACHES.

Charles Cox, formerly a matriculated hairdresser and the father of George Valentine Cox who wrote Reminiscences of Oxford announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 3 October 1801 that he had taken over the King's Arms Inn.

Frederick Stone, a later landlord, went bankrupt in 1858, and everything in the pub had to be sold, including furniture, curtains, nearly 30 mahogany four-post and other beds, fire irons, wash stands, all the china, fine port wine, and two landau flys and four useful horses: for a full list, see Jackson's Oxford Journal for 16 January 1858, p. 4.

King's Arms in 1876

The above detail from the 1876 OS map shows No. 40 Holywell Street fully integrated into the main pub building on the corner, with No. 39 nestling into the eastern corner. The wide entrance to King’s Arms Yard is just to the east of No. 39. This yard was painted by J. A. Shuffrey in c.1907 (OXCMS: 2002.74,7, pictured on p. 43 of Lauren Gilmour and Margaret Shuffrey, J. A. Shuffrey 1859–1939: An Oxford Artist’s Life Remembered).

Interesting memorial to Elizabeth Franklin,
wife of the first landlord, in St Cross Church (now Balliol Historic Collections Centre)

King's ArmsAbove: The main part of the King’s Arms faces Parks Road

40 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

Frederick Stone (30), the innkeeper of the King’s Arms, lived here with Sarah (20), Eliza (35), 13 independent people who were presumably guests at the inn, and nine male and four female servants.


Frederick Stone (42), now described as the landlord of the King’s Arms Hotel, still lived here with his wife Sarah (48) and six servants (a cook, housemaid, under-housemaid, kitchen-maid, boots, and ostler).


The head of the household was away, and a waiter, two porters, a chambermaid, housemaid, and a female superintendant, plus one guest (an undergraduate) stayed here on census night.


Alice Littlechild (39), a widow and manager of the hotel, lived here with four servants (a waiter, a boots, and two domestic servants).


Alice Littlechild (49) was still the hotel manageress and lived here with an assistant (who was the hotel bookkeeper), a student lodger, a boarder (a retired horse dealer of 71), and two servants (a chambermaid and housemaid).


Henry Sheppard (29), a printer, lived here with his wife Louisa (26), who was the manageress of the hotel, plus four servants (a barmaid, cook, housemaid, and kitchenmaid). They had one boarder.


Edward George (43), a hotel proprietor, lived here with his wife Jessie (41) and six of the pub’s servants (a waiter, boots, cook, chambermaid, kitchenmaid, and barmaid).


Edward George (54) was still the hotel proprietor here, with his wife Jessie (52) who assisted in the business. Also living with them were a hotel assistant and six hotel servants (a cook, chambermaid, kitchenmaid, porter, and two waiters). Six guests were in residence on census night.

Occupants of 40 Holywell Street listed in directories etc.


Mrs Payne (died on 29 December 1761)


Frontage: 21 yds 0 ft 0 in(this must be the whole side of the pub, not just No. 48)
Mr Stone


John Cecil to 1788, then his widow Elizabeth Cecil


King’s Arms Hotel (and at Parks Road): some landlords

Richard Ward (1777)
John Cecil (died 1788)
Mrs Elizabeth Sisil/Cecil (from 1788)
    (she married William Slaughter at St Cross Church on 7 September 1793)
William Slaughter (1793)
Charles Cox (1801–1831)
Jane Cox, wife of the above (1831–1839)
Cox & Stone (1841)
Frederick Stone (& fly proprietor) (1841–1858, but
Eliza Cox
      & Frederick Stone jointly listed in the 1844–5 wine licence list
Samuel Y. Griffiths (1861)
James Richard Mallam (1871–1884)
William Franklin (1894–1896)
Edward & Jessie George (1899–1913)
Harry Richard Williams (1916)
Robert James Hannah (19211926)
Mrs Julia Hannah (1930–1960)


King’s Arms public house


Back part of King’s Arms

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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