Nos. 26–27: Blackwell’s Art & Poster shop

26 & 27 Broad Street

In 1964 the bookshop on this site was pulled down by Exeter College and replaced by their Thomas Wood Building, shown above, designed by Brett & Pollen. A new split-level bookshop for Parker’s was incorporated into the design, and it was opened by the Chancellor of the University, Harold Macmillan.

It now has a statue by Antony Gormley on the top corner facing Broad Street.

The former No. 26 (on the right)

This was the corner building on the Turl:

  • It was first built between 1606 and 1610
  • In 1813 it was rebuilt as two tenements
  • In 1889 it was rebuilt again
  • In 1964 was demolished for the third time in 150 years to make way for an Exeter College development

During the excavations in 1889 evidence was found of the ancient Canditch which lay here outside the wall. A considerable heap of leather (about 2ft 9in thick) was found, as well as shoemakers’ knives, and an ornamental book cover.

The house was owned by the city, and so the records of leases from 1610 survive.

(1) House on the site of No. 26 from 1813 to 1889

26 Broad Street in mid-nineteenth century

Here are the leases since 1813, when it was two tenements

  • 1813: John Hudson, builder, leased two messuages newly erected by him on a site formerly occupied by George Malbon
  • 1827: John Hudson leased one portion (occupied by Busby) and Harriet Syms, widow, leased the other, which she occupied herself
  • 1841: Alderman Charles James Sadler leased one tenement, and Benjamin Badcock the other one

Sure enough, Sadler is listed in Hunt’s 1846 directory at No. 26, but Badcock is listed at No. 27 (rather than at the second tenement at 26), which upsets subsequent numbering on the south side, and it does not settle down in directories until 1861. Benjamin Badcock, a land agent, is then listed correctly at No. 26 to 1866, and Miss Badcock from 1884 to 1889. The 1881 census shows Miss Sarah Badcock, an annuitant aged 75 (who gave her place of birth as Pyrton Manor House) living there with a 63-year-old general servant.

At the back of the house (facing Turl Street) in 1881 was the medical general practitioner Julius Ottaway Sankey and his wife, plus a “lunatic” boarder and four servants.

The auction of this leasehold property was advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 22 March 1884:

Lot 3.—The valuable and splendidly-situated LEASEHOLD DWELLING HOUSE, at the corner of Broad-street and Turl-street, now occupied by J. O. Sankey, Esq., at the moderate rental of £80 per annum, and containing, in the basement, a kitchen, pantry, and cellar, larder, coal cellar, and scullery; on the ground floor, dining room and sitting room; on the first floor, drawing room and library; on the second floor, two bed rooms, and 3 attics above.

Quit rent payable to the City of Oxford, £2 1s. 11d. Land Tax, £4 8s. 10d.

This property is held by Lease under the City of Oxford for the term of 40 years, renewable every 14 years (the last renewal having been made at Michaelmas, 1883).

In October 1888 it was advertised for sale again by direction of the Executor of the late Miss Badcock. The advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 1 September 1888 read as follows:

A VALUABLE LEASEHOLD DWELLING HOUSE, Situated in the best and most Central Part of the City, and overlooking the beautiful grounds of Trinity College....

The House contains—kitchen, scullery, and the usual offices in the basement; on the ground floor—entrance hall and 2 sitting rooms; on the second floor—2 bed rooms; and on the third floor—3 bed rooms.

The Premises are held under a lease granted by the City of Oxford for a term of 40 years from Michaelmas, 1869. The unexpired term is, therefore, 21 years clear. Ground Rents, £1 6s. 3d. per annum; Land Tax, £2 1s. per annum.

Miss Badcock's household furniture was advertised for sale on 6 October 1888.

The surgeon Julius Ottoway Sankey, who still lived at 22 Turl Street, appears to have purchased the lease. He moved for a short period to 35 St Giles's Street, presumably to avoid building works.

(2) House on the site of No. 26 from 1889 to 1964 (an office from 1913)

26-27 Broad Street

In 1889 the builder Symm rebuilt No. 26 as a house for the surgeon Julius Ottoway Sankey.

The 1901 census shows Sankey (54), described as a surgeon, living at 26 Broad Street with his wife Agnes (52), a boarder, and their four servants. He was still here in 1911, but moved out a year or two later. He was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery on 9 January 1924.


Right and below: Sankey's home after he moved out. (The bow windows that are so prominent in the photograph below are barely visible in the upper photograph.)

Barnett House

In 1913 the University of Oxford opened Barnett House (left) in Sankey's former home.

In its first year (1915) Barnett House was home to the Oxford University Tutorial Classes Committee, the Department of Social Anthropology, and the Agricultural Economic Institute.

In 1926, although it was still city property, Barnett House at 26 Broad Street was required by Exeter College for an extension to their premises (see Oxford Journal Illustrated of 17 March 1926, p. 9).

In its last year (1936) it housed the Institute for Social & Economic Studies, the Social Training Course for University Certificate, Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, Oxfordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes, the League of Nations Union, and the Oxfordshire Red Triangle Federation of Village Clubs.

History of Barnett House

In 1937 No. 26 was taken over by Parker’s next door and both premises were demolished and rebuilt as one large shop in 1964.

The former No. 27 (on the left) and the Parker family

This small two-storey house (shown on the left of the first two small old pictures above) remained virtually unchanged from the time it was built in 1788 until it was demolished in 1964. It belonged to the city, and was leased to the bookseller James Fletcher from 1731 to 1802, to Elizabeth Fletcher from 1802 to 1816, and to Joseph Parker from 1 May 1816.

James Fletcher (formerly partner of James Rivington of St Paul’s Churchyard) came from Salisbury and founded a bookshop here, taking William Hanwell into partnership to form Fletcher & Hanwell.

In 1797, after Fletcher’s death, Hanwell went into partnership with Joseph Parker, who had served his apprenticeship in the book trade with Daniel Prince and whose great-uncle, Sackville Parker, had already established a bookshop at 88 High Street. Joseph Parker (a direct descendant of Samuel Parker, Bishop of Oxford 1686–1688) was matriculated at the University of Oxford as a “bibliopola” on 27 January 1798.

In 1817 Joseph Parker was recorded as occupying property both to the east and south of 26 Broad Street, namely No. 27 and Fletcher’s old Turl Street shop (a tiny house, 16 feet square, just inside the city wall). It appears that Parker ran his bookshop in Broad Street and lived in the little Turl Street house.

One of Joseph Parker’s sons became a Vicar, the other a surgeon, so when he died in 1850, the book business went to his London-born nephew, John Henry Parker.

In the 1881 census, John Henry Parker (75) is listed under Turl Street as a retired publisher, and is living with the next two men who were to run the firm: his son James Parker, described as a publisher and bookseller, and his grandson James H. Parker, who at 18 was still learning the business as a humble publisher’s clerk. Their publisher’s warehouseman also lived with them, plus three other boarders and their cook. John Henry Parker senior died on 31 January 1884.

In 1937 Parker’s expanded the shop into No. 26 next door.

On 18 July 1961 a planning application to demolish Parker's shop at 26 & 27 Broad Street and replace it with a new bookshop and bank on the ground floor and college rooms upstairs was approved (61/08309/A_H).

Both were demolished and rebuilt in 1964.

The present (1964) shop at Nos. 26 & 27

Parker's Bookshop moved into the new shop at Nos. 26 & 27 in 1964, and continued to operate there for about another thirty years before being taken over by Blackwell's.

Exeter College installed a statue by Anthony Gormley on the north-west corner of the shop's roof on 15 February 2009. 

Occupants of the present shop at 26–27 Broad Street listed in directories





John Henry Parker:
J . H. Parker
, later Parker & Son Ltd, Bookshop


Blackwell’s Art & Poster shop

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