5 Cornmarket Street: Pizza Express (former Golden Cross Inn)

Pizza ExpressAbove: the former Golden Cross Inn in February 2009

Golden Cross west
Above: Inside the entrance to the Golden Cross in the 1930s

Golden Cross in 1930s
Above: The south range (which was rebuilt in the late 17th century) in the early 1930s

The Golden Cross was also known as the Cross Inn. Numbered 5 Cornmarket, it is well set back from the street with its courtyard in front. The old inn itself is now a pizza restaurant.

Nothing today remains of the original twelfth-century inn, but the south range dates from the seventeenth century and the courtyard is approached through a fifteenth-century gateway. It is Grade I listed (list entry 1047323).

This inn 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 closed in 1971. It is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate.

This was a coaching inn during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In 1794 the following coaches were advertised as departing from the Golden Cross:

From the Cross Inn, Corn-market:—A coach every morning, at eight o'clock, to the Black Lion, Water-lane, Fleet-street, London, Sunday excepted; inside fare 19s. outside 10s.—A coach to Bath every morning, except Sunday, at seven o'clock; inside fare 1l. 2s. outside 13s.

On 23 December 1797 J. Wilmot announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he had taken over the Cross Inn in Cornmarket, adding that

he has roomy and complete Stabling, with good Store Rooms adjoining, and a very convenient large Yard for Waggons to draw into.—He likewise takes the Liberty to say, that his Liquors, of all Kinds, are of the first Quality, and that his Charge, in every Respect, shall be reasonable.

On 30 June 1798 the Cross Inn was advertised for sale by private contract, and described as “for Situation, Room, and Convenience, will be found well calculated for a Traveller's Inn as well as for the Market”.

On 28 May 1823 W. Seward announced that Mr Parker's waggons had been removed and he had refitted the rooms in the Golden Cross for commercial gentlemen. The following fast coaches then left that inn each day:

  • A Post Coach to London at 3.30am through Wycombe to the Bull & Mouth
  • The Oxonian Express Post to London at 2.15pm through Wycombe to the Bull & Mouth
  • The Union Post Coach to London at 10.15pm through Wycombe to the Bull & Mouth
  • The Post Coach to Birmingham at 3.30am
  • The Aurora Post Coach to Birmingham at 12.45pm, via Shipston and Stratford
  • The Oxonian Express Post Coach to Birmingham, Shrewsbury, and Holyhead at 2.15pm
  • The Union Post Coach to Birmingham, Shrewsbury, and Holyhead at 11pm
  • A Post Coach to Liverpool, Manchester, and Chester at 1pm, 2.15pm, and 11pm

In Jackson's Oxford Journal of 11 October 1828 this inn was described as Seward's Boarding House, and the proprietor advertised that Mrs Seward would be providing Oxford sausages, and that it delivered dinners to any part of Oxford. On 27 June 1829, however, an auction of Seward’s property “under an execution and distress for rent” was advertised, comprising “neat tent and stump bedsteads, good feather beds and bedding, sets of mahogany dining and other tables, painted and Windsor chairs, carpets, fenders, fire irons, boilers, and saucepans, brewing, washing, and salting tabs, sausage tins and pots, pickles, sauces, in jars and bottles, of different descriptions, and numerous useful articles; together with all the newly fitted-up Coffee Room Tables, Seats, Partitions, and Boxes”.

On 21 February 1874 a forthcoming auction of the Golden Cross Hotel (mostly freehold, but a small part leasehold), sold under the Will of the late William J. Holland  was advertised as follows in Jackson’s Oxford Journal:

All those extensive BUSINESS PREMISES, known as “The Golden Cross Hotel,” containing 23 principal and secondary bed rooms, 6 sitting rooms, large coffee room, commercial room and smoke room, bar, bar parlour, capacious kitchen, larder, brewhouse, good underground cellars, and requisite offices, with extensive range of stabling, lock-up coach-house, chaise-house, granary, out-offices, covered and open yards, and the usual appurtenances of a large hotel.

This Old-established House, which has maintained a position as a leading hotel for the last 350 years, and, under the management of the late Mr. Holland, has for many years enjoyed an extensive University, County, City, and Commercial connection, is conveniently situate in the Corn Market-street, the most important business thoroughfare and central situation in the City of Oxford.

The Property, from the importance of its situation, extent of premises, and profitable connexion, affords a most desirable opportunity either for investment or occupation.

In 1911 the total number of rooms in the hotel was recorded as 38.

The hotel closed in about 1967. It was then the Golden Cross restaurant until the 1980s.

The Golden Cross area was extensively altered in 1986, with a pedestrian link created to the Covered Market (planning application 85/00196/L).

See W. A. Pantin, “The Golden Cross” in Oxoniensia XX (1955), 46–89

This planning application approved in April 2022 relates in part to the entrance to the Golden Cross and includes an interesting Heritage Statement (under the Documents tab): 22/00046/FUL.

Occupants of the Golden Cross at 5 Cornmarket Street in directories etc

To 1967

Golden Cross Inn

Innkeepers (subject to nineteenth-century university wine licences):

S. Wentworth (1788)
Thomas Greenwood (1791, 1794)
Sarah Knibbs (1818–1828)

W. Seward (1823–1829)
William Holland (1830); Mrs Holland (1835); A. A. Holland (1839), Ann Holland (1842);
    William John Holland (1845–1873)
Mrs Emma Franklin (1880–1890); Mrs Miriam Franklin (1891)
Miss Louisa J. Higgs, manageress (1899–1901)
Mrs Clara Ball (1903–1930)
Miss R. Munro, manageress (1932–1947)
Miss M. L. Hayward, manageress (1952–1962)
Mrs E. F. Fox, manageress (1967)


Golden Cross restaurant


Extensive alterations


Pizza Express

Golden Cross Inn at 5 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


William Holland (25), innkeeper at the Golden Cross, lived here with Anne Holland (15), presumably his sister. (They were probably the children of the William Holland who was innkeeper until at least 1830.) They had nine resident servants (three male and six female). Seven guests were staying at the hotel on census night, including three commercial travellers and a seedsman.


William Holland (35) was still here, now with his brother George Holland (34): each was described as “Innkeeper & wine merchant”. They had ten servants (a housekeeper, two upper chambermaids, a waitress, a kitchen maid, and ostler, a cook, an upper and under porter, and an errand boy). Staying at the inn were five commercial travellers and two wine and spirit merchants.


William J. Holland (45) and his brother George (44), described respectively as Innkeeper and Assistant Innkeeper, still lived here. They had nine resident servants, but on census night there were only two guests: a wine merchant and a wine merchant’s traveller.


Miss Eliza Showell (41), hotel manager, lived here alone at the Golden Cross with an apprentice and eight servants (a barmaid, chambermaid, under-chambermaid, two waitresses, kitchen maid, and two boots). Three people stayed at the hotel on census night (two agents and a commercial traveller).


The inn was now described as the Golden Cross Hotel, and the hotel keeper was Mrs Emma Franklin, a widow of 54, who lived here with her 19-year-old son Henry, an ironmonger’s apprentice, and nine servants (a barmaid, a waiter, a waitress, a head chambermaid, an under chambermaid, a housemaid, a kitchenmaid, and a head and under boots). There were four guests on census night, all commercial travellers.


Mrs Miriam Franklin (25), the widowed hotel proprietor at the Golden Cross, lived here with her sister Rose Solloway (19), who lived on her own means. Also on the premises were nine servants (a manageress, barmaid, cook, waiter, waitress, head-under-boots, chambermaid, kitchenmaid, and housemaid). No guests are listed.


Miss Louisa Higgs (60), hotel manageress, lived here alone at the Golden Cross with eleven members of staff, all described as servants (two barmaids, a waitress, housemaid, chambermaid, kitchenmaid, pantrymaid, head boot, under boot, and waiter).


Mrs Clara Ball (51), a widowed hotel keeper, lived here alone with ten servants (a bookkeeper, housekeeper, barmaid, cook, waiter, a boots, and two chambermaids, one kitchen maid, and one pantry maid).

Oxford History Home

© Stephanie Jenkins

Cornmarket Home