4 Cornmarket Street: “T4”

4 Cornmarket

This shop was rebuilt in 1924. It was in the parish of St Martin's (Carfax) until that church was demolished in 1896, whereafter it was in the parish of St Martin's & All Saints until All Saints Church was deconsecrated in 1971. It is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate. Part of the ground floor of the old and new shop comprised the entrance to the Golden Cross Hotel.

No. 4 in early 1900s

The earlier building here

Part of a medieval inn stood on the site of 3 & 4 Cornmarket Street, but this was divided into two separate houses by 1555. For more on the early history of this inn, see No. 3, where part of the mid-sixteenth-century fabric survives.

This photograph dating from 1907 shows how the former shop at No. 6 to the left used to extend to half-way over the entrance

On 6 October 1827Joseph J. Hemmings announced that he had succeeded to Mrs Knibbs at 4 Cornmarket, and he had commenced making sausages there. He was still listed as a sausage-maker here in Robson's Commercial Directory for 1839, and his business which survived here until 1881 was later described as an eating house or dining rooms.

By 1889 Pill's Restaurant was on these premises, and on 2 November that year John Pill advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal that you could get a good dinner here for 10d. or 1s., with tea and coffee at 2d. a cup.

  • Photograph of c.1900 giving a glimpse on the left of Pill's Restaurant

George Weeks ran the City Restaurant herefrom 1911 to 1956. There was a serious fire here in 1919 (see photograph in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 19 November that year).

Right: The earlier building at 4 Cornmarket Street in c.1910 with a projecting sign saying “The City Restaurant” and another across the top balcony



Present building

The shop was rebuilt in 1924: see photograph in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 24 October 1924. George Weeks continued to run the City Restaurant here in the new building until 1956.

In 1956 the shoe retailers Freeman Hardy Willis took over the restaurant and the architect Nadine Beddington made extensive alterations to the shop front and installed a lift and a new staircase. The external walls were faced with marble on the top three floors. Detailed drawings can be seen in the documents attached to the planning application: 56/05192/A_H


Occupants of 4 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.

Original shop here rebuilt in twentieth century


Joseph J. Hemmings, Sausage maker/Eating House (later Dining Rooms)
(taken over by his eldest son in May 1848)


John Pill, Dining Rooms (Mrs Mary Pill 1899–1901)


No listing


Dudley Jeffery, restaurant


Henry John Pike, restaurant


George E. Weeks & Co, City Restaurant
Bakers 1954–1956


Freeman, Hardy & Willis, Boot Manufacturers


Orient Jewel Co Ltd


Foto Processing


Daniel Clulow, Opticians


Sunglass Hut


West Country Pasty Company



4 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


Joseph Hemmings (40), a cook, lived over the shop with Martha (40), plus Martha (15), Joseph (14), John (12), Hannah (10), William (8), and Esther (3), and four servants (one male and three female). This was the eponymous J. J. Hemmings who had dining rooms on this site by 1839.


Joseph Hemmings junior (24), described as a cook and sausage maker, lived here over his shop with his wife Rebecca (26) and his sister-in-law Mrs Ann Trafford (28). (Their baby son Joseph Purser Hemmings had died here six weeks earlier on 24 February). Also living with them were six servants (a cook, two cook’s porters, two housemaids, and a kitchenmaid.


Joseph Hemmings junior (34), described as a “Sausage maker”, now lived here over the shop with his wife Rebecca (36) and their children William (9), Edwin (4), and Agnes (1). They had two male and two female house servants.


Joseph Hemmings junior (44), described as an eating house keeper & sausage maker, still lived here with his wife Rebecca (40) and his children Rebecca (17), Henry (15), who was an ironmonger's apprentice, and Agnes (10). They had one general servant.


Joseph Hemmings (54), again described as a cook and sausage maker, was still living here with his wife Rebecca (56) and two of their children: Henry (25), who was an ironmonger, and Agnes (2). They now two female servants.


John Pill (44), the keeper of the refreshment house downstairs, lived here with his wife Mary (29), who assisted him the business, and their daughters Mildred (11), Margaret (9), Agnes (6), and Ida (1). Mary's unmarried sister Ellen Preedy (25) and a cousin called Charles Druett also assisted. They had three servants (a housemaid, nurse, and kitchenmaid).


Mary Pill (39), a widowed restaurant keeper, lived here with her daughters Margaret (19) and Agnes (16), who were shop assistants, her son Harold (7), and her niece Maude (24). Also living over the premises were a waitress, kitchenmaid, housemaid, nursemaid, cook, and general servant.


William Robinson Thomas (28), described as chef manager, lived here with his wife Annie (30), described as the restaurant manageress. One waitress lived with them.

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