22–23 Cornmarket Street: W. H. Smith

22-23 Cornmarket

The photograph above, taken in 2009, shows the two shops now occupied by W. H. Smith & Son. The

On the right is the original W. H. Smith shop at 22 Cornmarket which was purpose-built in 1916: in the gable is the inscription “AD / WHS / 1915”. On the left is the much older seventeenth-century shop into which expanded in the late 1970s.

At ground-floor level the modern shop front spanning both shops dates from 1969, when extensive work was undertaken here.

Andrews at No. 22


No. 22 to the south used to match its neighbour to the north (see photograph, right). Another photograph showing the matching pair of shops and their neighbours on each side in the 1890s can be seen here


No. 23 to the north is a Grade II listed building (list entry 1185685). It is in origin a seventeenth-century timber-framed house which was refronted in the eighteenth century and since restored. A seventeenth-century staircase and some eighteenth-century panelling survives at the back.


Both houses on this site have always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.



Right: Nos. 22 & 23 Cornmarket Street. The pennyfarthing bicycle parked outside No. 22 (with the name of the draper ANDREWS over the door) suggests that this photograph dates from the late nineteenth century. No. 22 then had two bay windows on each of its upper floors, matching No. 23


The former No. 22

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, 22 Cornmarket was then in the occupation of Mr Clark, and had a frontage of 9 yards, 0 ft. and 3 in.

The grocer Daniel Bolton had his shop here until July 1836, when he retired because of his health, and the tea-dealer and grocer Richard Cross reopened the shop on 1 August 1836. At the time of the 1841 census Richard Cross was living here with Ruth Cross, a shop assistant, and a servant. Listed separately as living in part of Cross's house was the architect John Derrick, his wife Elizabeth and their two children, plus their servant.

This leasehold property was advertised for sale thus in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 8 January 1859:

All those extensive BUSINESS PREMISES,

Comprising on the ground floor, a double-fronted shop, counting house, and spacious dining room, detached kitchen and scullery, with store rooms over; on the first floor, a lofty and elegant drawing room (26 ft. by 16 ft.), and two bed rooms; on the second floor, a sitting room and three bed rooms; on the third floor, three attics. In the basement, coal, cellar and warehouse; and a yard and garden at the back, the whole possessing a frontage of 27 ft., and extending a depth of upwards of 165 ft., in the occupation of Mr. Cross, grocer, under a repairing lease, of which two years will be unexpired at Lady Day next, at a rental of £125 per annum.—This Property is Freehold and Land Tax redeemed.

The grocer Richard Cross continued to rent the premises to 1881. He was followed by the wine & spirit merchant William John Mayo.

W. H. Smith had moved into No. 22 by 1921.

In 1968 Jesus College was granted permission to extend and rebuild No. 22 (68/18400/A_H).

The present No. 23

Salter states that in 1771 No. 23 was occupied by Mr Terry and had a frontage of 9 yards, 0 ft. and 5 in.

At the time of the 1841 census the tailor Jonathan Fiske lived here with his wife Esther and possibly three apprentices, a shop assistant, and three servants.

A branch of Gillman & Son, boot & shoemakers, was at No. 23 from at least 1890 to 1936. The firm started business in Holywell Street in 1861, then moved to George Street, and finally to 12 Broad Street, where they remained until their closure in 2002.

  • For a bill from from R. Gillman dated 1891 when he was at No. 23, see ibid., p. 81, illustration 78.

The draper Charles Andrews then moved in.

By the late 1970s W. H. Smith expanded their shop at No. 22 to include No. 23 to the north.

Occupants of 22 Cornmarket and 23 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No. 23 (left) No. 22 (right)


Jonathan Fiske
Tailor, draper, &c
and Marshall Fiske
Agent for the Economic Life office (1839)

Fiske & Son, Woollen draper (1846–1867)
(+ Agents for the Economic Life
Assurance Office
in 1867)

Fiske & Son
Tailors, robe makers, and jewellers (1872)

To 1838: Daniel Bolton, grocer

Richard Cross (from 1838)
Grocer & cheesemonger
(later Grocer & tea dealer)


Took over the shop of Daniel Bolton


Lewis, Sons, and Parker
Tailors and robe makers


Gillman & Son

William Mayo, Cigar stores

By 1899–1914

Charles Andrews, Draper
(Mrs Andrews, Milliner by 1903)


W. H. Smith & Son
Booksellers, stationers, & newsagents


Greens Gowns/Samuel Green, Costumier
(Ramsay & Muspratt, Photographers upstairs)


Richard Shops Ltd, Fashion specialists


Ramsey & Muspratt, Photographers


W. H. Smith & Son

22 & 23 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


No. 22 was occupied by the grocer Richard Cross (25) and his wife Ruth (20) with a shopman William Tarrant and one female servant. In “Part of Cross House” is the architect John Dooricks (35) with Elizabeth (30), John (4), Edward (3), and one female servant.

No. 23: Jonathan Fiske, a tailor, lived here with Esther (60), John (c.20), his son and assistant, and Frederick (c.20). Also in the household were Marshal Spink (15), James Brown (who worked in the shop), and three female servants.


No. 22: Richard Cross (38), grocer, still lived here with his wife Ruth (32) and their children Thomas (8), Ruth (7), Elizabeth (5), Richard (4), Priscilla (2), and Jane (1). They had two female servants, and a shopman lodging with them. In the other part of the house were two visitors: William L. Wigan, the Vicar of East Malling in Kent, and his wife Caroline (20).

No. 23: John M. Fiske (34), a woollen draper described as the son of the head of the household [Jonathan Fiske], lived here over his father's shop.


No. 22: Richard Cross (49), grocer, still lived here with his wife Ruth (44) and his children Thomas (18), who was a grocer’s assistant, Ruth (17), Priscilla (12), Ellen (9), Samuel (8), Sarah (7), Fanny (4), and Jane (six months). They had two house servants, and and an apprentice, Samuel Dutton (15), also lived with them.

No. 23: John Marshall Fiske (44), a woollen draper who now employed twelve men, was still unmarried and continued to live here over his shop with his mother Esther (81), one draper’s assistant, and two house servants.


No. 22: Richard Cross (57), grocer, still lived here with his wife Ruth (54) and their children Thomas (28), who was his father's assistant, Elizabeth (25), Priscilla (22), Helen (19), Sarah Ann (17), and James (14). They had two servants, and a grocer's shopman lived with them.

No. 23: John M. Fiske (54), woollen draper, still lived here with one servant. Living with him was a shopman who worked for him.


No. 22: Richard Cross (68) still lived here with his wife Ruth (63) and their daughter Ruth (37) and son Samuel (27), described as a grocer’s assistant. They had one general servant.

No. 23 was occupied by Emma Parker (a widow of 50), described as both the head of the household and a housekeeper, and her unmarried sister Sarah Ann Parker (38), a confectioner’s assistant.


No. 22: William John Mayo (35), wine & spirit merchant, lived here with his son Guy (8) and a sick nurse and a general servant. His wife Fanny was paying a visit with her father to Matlock, Derbyshire.

No. 23: Richard Gillman (73), bootmaker, lived here with his wife Mary (73) and their unmarried daughters Mary (36) and Rose (34). They had one general servant.


No. 22: Charles Andrews (51), a draper, lived here with his wife Charlotte (51), who was a milliner. They had two domestic servants, and a milliner and a saleswoman also lived with them.

No. 23: Harriet Gillman (54), a widowed shopkeeper (and employer) at the bootmaker's below, lived here with her children Olive (15) and Ronald (14), plus a housekeeper and general servant.


No. 22: Charles Andrews (61), a fancy draper, still lived upstairs in twelve-roomed premises with his wife Charlotte (61), who was a milliner, as well as an assistant milliner, two saleswomen, a cook, and a housemaid.

No. 23: No listing: possibly it was part of No. 22 upstairs.

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