CORNMARKET, OXFORD

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8–10 Cornmarket Street: Boots (former Roebuck Inn)


Boots at 8-10 todayAbove: Boots at 8–10 Cornmarket is now on the site of the former Roebuck Inn building.
Most of the inn was demolished in the spring of 1925, but the façade has been retained on the first and second floor

Below: the Roebuck in about 1905. Another view of the hotel in 1909 can be seen hereThe Roebuck

The Roebuck Inn (so named in 1610 after the arms of Jesus College) originally faced Market Street, but by 1740, when it had become a large coaching inn on the London to Gloucester run, its yard and main entrance faced on to Cornmarket Street, and only the coaching office and ostler's house remained on Market Street.

Until the second half of the nineteenth century the Roebuck only occupied the right-hand side of this building (No. 8), and there was a separate inn (the Little Cross) at No. 9 in the middle, and a shop at No. 10 on the left.

Much of the eighteenth-century fabric remains, and Nos. 8–10 form a Grade II listed building (list entry 1047324).

No. 8 was originally 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. Nos. 9–10 have always been in the latter parish.

This was a coaching inn during the eighteenth century, and In 1794 the following coaches were advertised as departing from this inn:

From the Roebuck Inn, Corn-market:—Mr. Cotrell's coach sets out every Tuesday and Saturday morning, at nine o'clock, to the Broad Face Inn, Reading, and returns on Monday and Friday.—Francis Blewitt's coach arrives from Abingdon at the Roebuck every Wednesday and Saturday, and returns the same evening.

John Perry was the landlord here in 1758.

In 1801 there was a coach every day to London (via Henley), Birmingham, and Liverpool.

In 1802 the landlord John Probat advertised that he had purchases "several new and elegant post chaises”, which he would run at one shilling per mile only. He was running three coaches a day: (1) to London via Henley one at 5am every day, (2) to Birmingham each morning, and (3) to Liverpool each morning at 6am. John Probat died in February 1805 at the age of 47 and was buried in St Martin's churchyard, and Mrs Probat continued to run the inn until she took over Webb's Hotel in Covent Garden, London in 1807.

In October 1807 the Roebuck was taken over by Henry Richards who had hitherto run the Crown & Thistle in Abingdon. He died at the age of 53 on 1 January 1813, and on 16 January his daughter Mary Richards , announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that she would carry on the business of the inn.

In 1823 the Bath and Bristol coach left the Roebuck every morning at 8.30.

The drawing below (dating from the early 1840s) shows that the Roebuck occupying the taller building to the south (No  8). The lower building to the north was occupied by the Little (or Old) Cross Inn at No. 9, and Chaundy’s tobacco shop at No. 10 on the far left. (Chaundy moved to 17 Cornmarket near the beginning of 1842.)

The following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 26 August 1854, advertising the forthcoming auction on 12 September of the Roebuck Hotel (No. 8), together with the adjoining Little Cross public house (No. 9) and shop (No. 10), and the Roebuck Tap in Market Street:

TO HOTEL KEEPERS, CAPITALISTS, AND OTHERS.
FIRST-RATE FREEHOLD INVESTMENT.
THE ROEBUCK HOTEL
AND OTHER ADJOINING PROPERTY,
Situate in the Corn Market & Market Street, Oxford,
Producing a Rental of £350 per Annum, free from all deductions....

The ROEBUCK HOTEL has a commanding frontage to the street, and is approached through a covered carriage gateway; it comprises a large coffee room and detached market room on the right, and an entrance hall, commercial room, bar, and bar parlour, on the left; three spacious and lofty reception rooms, a large sale room, and 21 bed rooms, with excellent staircases, landings, water closets, and all suitable domestic offices; also four capital cellars in the basement, conveniently arranged to contain wines, spirits, beer, and coals; a large and spacious yard (with beck entrance thereto from Market-street), in which are ranges of capital stabling, with stalls and loose boxes for 19 horses, lock-up coach-houses, granary, hay and straw lofts, with every other convenience suitable for conducting the business of a first-rate Hotel. Also

THE ROEBUCK TAP,

adjoining the Oxford Market containing tap-room, bar, back parlour, two sitting rooms, two bed rooms, and good cellarage and kitchen in the basement; and also the

LITTLE CROSS PUBLIC HOUSE,

adjoining the Roebuck Hotel; comprising the Railway Booking Office, tap-room, bar, back parlour, 7 bed rooms, kitchen, and cellar, with small yard and other conveniences; together with a small DWELLING HOUSE adjoining, containing three rooms, and occupied as a Shop

** The whole of this very important property is in the occupation of Mr. Richard Gurden and his under-tenants, and will be sold in one lot, subject to the life interest of a gentleman aged 82, and a charge of £52 per annum.

On 13 October 1866 the following report appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

One of the greatest improvements in our principal streets has been carried out at the Roebuck Hotel by the demolition of the adjoining wretched-looking tenement (No. 10), which was so long an eye-sore. The space thus gained will be taken up by a shop, to be occupied by Mr. Hayward, tailor, who is about to remove from his place of business in the High-street, to make room for alterations contemplated there. Over this new shop, the Roebuck Hotel is greatly extended, and the front looks very imposing.

Thus from 1866 the two inns at 8 & 9 Cornmarket and the shop at No. 10 were combined into one building, and henceforth the Roebuck rivalled the Star Inn on the other side of the street in size. Initially it occupied all the floors of Nos. 8 & 9, but only the upper floors of No. 10, which remained a shop on the ground floor.

Also in 1866 the coaching office and an ostler’s house were demolished so that the Roebuck Vaults could be built in Market Street around the corner as a new tap to the main inn.

Park flagon

 

From 1864 to 1890 the innkeeper at the Roebuck Inn was William Park, and the flagon on the right, inscribed
Wm. PARK / Roebuck / OXFORD
must date from that period.

Prior to that Christopher and William Park were wine & spirit merchants at 54 Cornmarket Street, but that was demolished in the mid-1860s.

By 1880 the hotel had also taken over the ground-floor shop at No. 10.

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph of the Roebuck
from the south in 1907

 

Another 1907 photograph

8, 9, & 10 in the 1940s

Roebuck in 1924

Above: The Roebuck Hotel in the early 1920s

 

The Roebuck Hotel closed in 1924, and was partly demolished the following year. There is a photograph of the demolition revealing the Radcliffe Camera in the distance in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 1 April 1925.

The southern part was converted into Woolworth’s first Oxford store (photograph), and the northern part into H. Samuel Ltd, jewellers.

In 1938 the old Roebuck Inn vaults facing Market Street were rebuilt by Thomas Rayson as the Roebuck pub. (This later became an Australian theme bar called the Bar Oz.)

 

 

Right: The former Roebuck Hotel in
the 1940s, with the jeweller H. Samuel
on the left and Woolworth's on the right

 

 

In 1957 Woolworth's moved to its new store on the site of the old Clarendon Hotel. H. Samuel remained in the premises on the left, and in 1958 Boots the Chemist moved into the shop on the right.

 

In the 1990s, Boots PLC expanded into the premises on the left, and so now occupies the whole site of the former coaching inn at Nos. 8–10. It undertook major rebuilding work, and opened up a new entrance into Market Street.

Occupants of 8–10 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.

Date

No. 10 (left)

No. 9

No. 8 (right)

1841

Richard Chaundy
Tobacconist

Little Cross Inn

Innkeepers  (not subject to nineteenth-
century university wine licences):

John Norgrove (1794)
John Rogers (1823)
James Liley (1830)
Thomas Atkins (1839)
Ann Smith (1841)
James  John  Lyne (1842) William Matthews (1846–1852)
Edward Southam (1861)

Roebuck Inn

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

John Probat (1783)
M. Richards (1823)
Richard Gurden (1830–1855)
John Matthews (1861–1864)

 

1846

Oliver Washer
Bootmaker

1851

Probably a
tobacconist shop

1866

Hayward & Judge
Robe makers,
hosiers, hatters &c.

in new building

Roebuck Inn

Innkeepers:
William Park (1864–1890)
J. Austin Drayton (1895–1911)
George Saunders (1914)
E. M. Beazley (1921)

1872

Samuel C. Pottage
Tailor & robe maker

1880–1921+

The Roebuck Hotel

1925

No listing: being converted into shops

1926–1956

H. Samuel Ltd
Jeweller

Woolworths

1958–1999

Boots the Chemist

c.2000–
present

Boots the Chemist

8, 9, & 10 Cornmarket Street in the censuses

1841

No. 8: Richard Gurden (50), innkeeper, lived here at the Roebuck Inn with his wife Elizabeth (45), Caroline (9), and five male and four female servants. There were ten guests at the inn on census night.

No. 9: Ann Smith (40), victualler, lived here at the Little Cross with another Ann Smith (20), one female servant, and a coachman.

No. 10: Richard Chaundy (35), tobacconist, lived here over his shop with John Lyne (35), a printer, and Sarah Lyne. They had one female servant.

1851

No. 8: Richard Gurden (60) was still the innkeeper here at the Roebuck Hotel. He and his wife Elizabeth (55) were living with two of their daughters: Ellen Bough (3)) and Elizabeth Matthews (31). They had nine servants: a housemaid, kitchenmaid, cook, an upper- and under-chambermaid, waiter, under-waiter, and a boots and under-boots. There were five guests at the inn: a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, a saddler’s ironmonger, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, a rail contractor, and a farmer.

No. 9: William Matthews (40) was publican here at the Little Inn (usually called the Little Cross). He lived with his wife Clara (38) and his son John (6). They had no live-in servants, and three lodgers (two labourers and a blacksmith).

No. 10: George Hanowak (26), described as a “tobacconist manager” lived here over Chaundy's tobacco shop.

1861

No. 8: John Matthews (41), innkeeper, lived here at the Roebuck Inn: he was unmarried and had no family living with him. There were nine live-in servants (two waiters and a boots, and six women who were simply described as domestic servants). On census night there were seven guests: the ship merchant William Mayne and his wife and daughter, and four commercial travellers.

No. 9: Edward Southam (52), described as innkeeper and pensioner, lived here at the Little Cross with his wife Elizabeth and three male lodgers (a coachman, a carrier, and a tinman journeyman).

No. 10: Listed as “shop only”, so the tailor’s business evidently occupied the upstairs.

1871

No. 8: Listed separately under St Martin's parish, and described as uninhabited, and as “part of Roebuck not used for sleeping”.

No 9 & 10: The Roebuck: listed under St Michael's parish. William Park (41), licensed victualler, lived here with his wife Louisa (39) and an assistant, a waiter, a waitress, two porters, five servants. Two guests, both travellers, were staying at the hotel on census night. Listed separately at the Roebuck Tap was its barman, William Allen (44) and his wife Phoebe (34) and their children William (4) and Blanch (3).

1881

Nos. 8, 9, & 10: The Roebuck now included Nos. 9, and 10 Cornmarket, and the hotel keeper was William Park (51). He lived here with his wife Louisa (49) and their daughter Charlotte (24), and they had nine live-in servants (a barmaid, a waitress, and two male and five female domestic servants). There were three guests at the inn on census night: George Pearson (the Vicar of Coombe near Hungerford); Arthur C. Sharpe (an accountant), and Henry Smythe (a commercial traveller for the timber trade).

1891

Nos. 8, 9, & 10 (Roebuck Hotel): James Drayton (45), hotel keeper, lived here with his wife Elizabeth (39), who was his assistant, his son Harry (9), and his sister Miss Catherine Drayton (47) and sister in-law Miss Frances Urwick, who were both housekeepers. Also living on the premises were three housemaids, a bookkeeper, a pantrymaid, a scullerymaid, and a kitchenmaid). There was only one guest, a commercial traveller, staying at the hotel on census night.

1901

Nos. 8, 9, & 10 (Roebuck Hotel): James Drayton (55) and his wife Elizabeth (48) were still the hotel keepers and they lived here with their son Henry (19), who had attended Abingdon School between 1897 and 1899 and was now a music student, and James's sister Catherine Drayton (57). Thirteen servants lived with them (a bookkeeper, two waiters, three porters, a kitchenmaid, cook, and five housemaids).

1911

Nos. 8, 9, & 10: The Roebuck: James Drayton (65) was still the hotel keeper and lived here with his wife Elizabeth (58) and his unmarried sister Catherine (67), who assisted him in the business, and their only child Harry Urwick Drayton (29), who was now the organist and choirmaster at St Michael's Church. Also living with them were their bookkeeper and thirteen hotel servants (three waiters, three housemaids, two porters, one chambermaid, one larder maid, one pantry maid, one kitchenmaid, and one scullery maid).

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