No. 36: Former shop

No. 36 Broad Street was second from the right of the row of thirteen houses dating from the first half of the seventeenth century that were demolished to make way for the New Bodleian Library in the late 1930s, next to the pub on the corner.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. No. 36 was then in the occupation of a Mr Curtis, and its frontage measured 4 yards 2 feet 1  inch.

George Rowell, a watch and clock maker, is listed under Broad Street in Pigot’s 1823 and 1830 directories; Mary Rowell, jeweller was here in 1841; and Richard Rowell, watch & clock maker, is listed as proprietor in 1846. The latter is shown living over the premises in the 1851 census: he is a widower of 42, employing two men, and lives with his two-year-old son, a housekeeper, and a general servant.

At the time of the 1861 census, the shop was occupied by Benjamin Wells, a cabinet maker, who lived upstairs with his wife Harriett, two sons, and a servant.

From 1912 until it was demolished, this was Chaundy’s Bookshop, mentioned in these lines of John Betjeman’s verse autobiography, Summoned by Bells:

One lucky afternoon in Chaundy’s shop
I bought a book with tipped-in colour plates –
‘City of Dreaming Spires’ or some such name –
Soft late-Victorian water-colours framed
Against brown paper pages….

Occupants of 36 Broad Street listed in directories


Richard R. Rowell, Watch & clock maker
(Mary Rowell in 1841 census)


Wells family, Cabinet makers

1861–1876: Benjamin Wells, Cabinet maker & Upholsterer and Appraiser
1876–1899: Benjamin Wells junior, Cabinet maker & Upholsterer
1900–1904: Mrs Wells, Cabinet maker & Upholsterer


James Beveridge, Antique & fine art dealer


Frederick L. Jones, Bookseller


Chaundy family, Booksellers

1912–1916: Frederick William Chaundy, Bookseller
1918–1936: Harry Walter Chaundy, Bookseller

Demolished with twelve neighbouring houses in 1937
to make room for the New Bodleian Library

See the bound typescript in the Bodleian Library entitled “The Demolished Houses of Broad Street and the Freeborn Family” (1943), attributed to Emily Sarah Freeborn, and the webpage by Alan Simpson which reproduces some of the material in it.

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