Former houses at 16–17 Cornmarket Street

These two houses stood on the middle part of the site of Northgate House until 1960. They were always in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate.

16-17 Cornmarket Street

No. 16

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to H. E. Salter, 16 Cornmarket was then in the occupation of Mr Rawlins, and had a frontage of 4 yards, 2 ft. and 1 in.

Robert Hills was a hairdresser & perfumer at No. 16 by 1851 and was described as an “artist in hair” in Gardner’s Directory of 1852. In 1856 he branched out into Talbotype photography, advertising that portraits would be taken daily from 9am to 5pm, and coloured if desired. By 1861 he was a successful photographic artist, and around this time he took on John Henry Saunders as his partner, forming the well-known Oxford photographic firm Hills & Saunders. They remained in this shop until the 1920s.

No 17

According to H. E. Salter, in 1772 17 Cornmarket was in the occupation of Mr Talmage and had a frontage of 4 yards, 2 ft. and 9 in.

This was a tobacconist shop from at least 1839 to 1872.


Photograph showing these two narrow houses in 1901: No. 16 is the house at the far right, and No. 17 with flower boxes is to the left of it (beside the Bell Inn at No. 18).


Right: a glimpse of the narrow buildings here in 1900. No. 16 on the right
was then a jeweller’s shop, and No. 17 on the left a photographer’s studio

The following notice appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 12  February 1842:


BEGS to return his grateful thanks to his friends for their past kindness, and to acquaint them that he has REMOVED to No 17, in the same street (lately the Cigar Divan), where he respectfully solicits a continuance of their patronage. On hand, an assortment of Tobaccos, Snuffs, Cigars, and the various apparatus connected with the trade, adapted alike to economists and connoisseurs.

Agent to the East India Tea Company.


A photograph from 1957 showing Nos. 17 and 16 to the right of the old, smaller Marks & Spencer building can be seen in Julie Kennedy, The Changing Faces of Oxford City Centre, Book 1, p. 45.

In 1960 the old shops at 16 & 17 Cornmarket Street were demolished at the same time as three old shops to the south and a newer building to the north and replaced by the enormous block of Northgate House at 13–20 Cornmarket Street, and Marks & Spencer moved on to the site of the eight old shops.

Occupants of 16–17 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No. 17 (left)

No. 16 (right)



Edward George Laney (the “Cigar Divan”)
Wholesale & retail Tobacconist
& Importer of cigars

Henry Blyton
Tailor & hatter


Richard Chaundy, Tobacconist

(with Matthew Chapping, Embroiderer in 1842
and Samuel Howse, Hair cutter, in 1846)

Henry Stuart
Tailor & robe maker


Robert Hills
Hairdresser & perfumer (1851)
Photographic artist (1861)


Hills & Saunders
Photographic Artists (by 1867)

Later Photographers, print sellers,
publishers, picture frame makers
& restorers of old paintings

With Buckell & Ballard auctioners, surveyors,
valuers & house & estate agents in 1930


Mrs Eleanor Fandam


Francis Page


William Simmonds
Jeweller, optician, & watch maker


Emile H. Capt
Watch maker & jeweller


Alfred Mosley
Watch maker, jeweller, & silversmith


The London Manufacturing
Goldsmiths Company Ltd


The Oxford Goldsmiths’ Company



Milward & Sons Ltd




George Leslie’s Studio Ltd
(incorporating Gillman & Hills &
Saunders), photographers (& at 49)

Buckell & Ballard, estate agents &c


Buckell & Ballard
Estate agents &c


Nurse the Furrier

Buckell & Ballard


Heltone ladies’ outfitters


Not listed: presumably one
of the first to be demolished


Rebuilt as the new Marks & Spencer store, which replaced these two old buildings
and another three to the north and three to the south

16–17 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


No. 16: Henry Blyton (35), a tailor, lived here over his shop with Anne (30) and Henry (9), Anne (7), Elizabeth (5), Emma (1), and an unnamed baby girl (two weeks). Also living in the household was Charles Paxton, a 14-year-old apprentice, an independent young man of 20, and a nurse and two female servants.

No. 17: Edwin Laney (25), tobacconist lived here over his shop with Sarah (30) and Faney (2), plus an independent lady (64).


No. 16: Robert Hills (29), then a hairdresser & perfumer, lived here with his wife Ann (35) and his children Elizabeth (4) and Mary (2). They had one servant.

No. 17: Richard Chaundy (48, tobacconist, lived here over his shop with his brother George (44), described as his assistant. Both are unmarried.


No. 16: Robert Hills (30), now a photographic artist employing of ten men, two women, and three boys, still lived here with his wife Annie (28) and his children Robert (10), Henry (3), and Annie (2). They had a house servant and a nursemaid.

No. 17: The widowed tobacconist Eleanor Faulkner (37) lived here with her daughters Eleanor (9) and Mary (8). They had one house servant.


No. 16: Only the housekeeper was in residence on census night.

No. 17: Francis Page (36), tobacconist, lived here over his shop with his wife Eliza (35).


No. 16 is described as “uninhabited”, implying that Hills & Saunders may now have been using the whole building for their expanding business.

No. 17: William Simmonds (41), jeweller, lived over his shop with his wife Emma (42) and one general servant.


No. 16: Listed as uninhabited: probably part of photography shop below.

No. 17: Ernest H. Capt, a Swiss watchmaker & jeweller, lived here with his son Ernest (11) and daughter Maud ((), plus a 14-year-old servant girl.


No. 16: Listed as in occupation: probably part of photography shop below.

No. 17: Alfred D. Mosley (48), described as a shopkeeper, watchmaker, & jeweller, lived here over his shop with his wife Hannah (38) and their son Alfred (17), who was an assistant watchmaker & jeweller. Also living with them were a general servant and a jeweller's porter.


No. 16: No listing: probably part of photography shop below. .

No. 17: Albert Ludlow (39), a jeweller's assistant, lived here in this seven-room dwelling with his wife Amelia (40) and their daughter Gertrude (11).

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