No. 11: House of Secrets (Harry Potter)

No. 11 in 2019

No. 11 dates from about 1800, and is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047343).

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. The house then standing on this site was in the occupation of a Mr Sandal, and its frontage measured 5 yards 1 foot 10 inches.

The 1841 census shows the tailor William Wallington at this house. In 1851 the occupant was another William Wallington, his son of 19, described as a tailor and draper, with his 17-year-old brother as his assistant. The two teenage drapers live by themselves in the house with a servant and a lodger.

William Wallington junior went bankrupt, and Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 8 August 1857 advertised a sale (by order of the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire) of his household furniture in 90 lots on that day at 11am. Then on 29 August 1857 another sale was advertised of his household furniture and stock-in-trade (mostly academic gowns) to be held on the premises two days later.

Joseph Thornton had opened his first bookshop in Magdalen Street in 1835, moving to 51 High Street in 1840, back to Magdalen Street in 1853 and to 10 Broad Street in 1863. In 1870 he moved next door to this shop at 11 Broad Street, where he finally settled: his bookshop remained here for 132 years until 2002.

At the time of the 1871 census Joseph Thornton was living over the shop with his sons John Henry Thornton and James Thornton, who assisted him in the business, and his second wife. By 1881 his son James had moved to Park Town and was managing his own bookshop at 33 High Street. In 1890 Joseph Thornton retired to Southmoor Road, where he died the following year, and his son John Henry Thornton moved into 11 Broad Street with his family to manage the business.

Thornton’s by Trevor Coppock

Thornton's bookshop remained in the family until 1983, when it was about to go bankrupt. Wim & Scharlie Meeuws of Holdan Books bought it from John (known as “Young Jack”) Thornton, and altered the shop between 1983 and 1985 to meet fire regulations. The Thornton’s name survived on the shop until the business finally moved out on 1 January 2003.

Oxford Mail, 30 November 2001:
Oxford’s oldest bookshop to close down

Thornton’s Bookshop was based at Boars Hill until 2007 and is now at Faringdon, about twenty miles from Oxford: website


Right: The old Thornton’s Bookshop in Broad Street
© Trevor Coppock Photography, Auckland, New Zealand

Occupants of 11 Broad Street listed in directories


William Wallington, Tailor


Thomas Harris, Librarian, bookseller, & stationer


Joseph Thornton, New and secondhand bookseller & stationer


Campus Buttery

Buttery Hotel upstairs
from February 2008




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