40 Cornmarket Street: Snappy Snaps

Snappy Snaps

No. 40 is a narrow seventeenth-century structure refronted in the eighteenth-century, and is one of the oldest properties owned by Oxford City Council. It is Grade II listed (list entry 1186051) and has always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

The earlier tenement on this site was given to the City in 1361 by the former Mayor of Oxford John of Barford. For leases granted by the City Council between 1582 and 1830, see H. E. Salter, Oxford City Properties, pp. 249–251.

In in 1772, when a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771, this house was occupied by Mr Becket, and the width of its frontage was 3 yards, 1 ft. and 9 in.

A widow, Mary Smith, obtained a lease of these premises from the city council on 23 June 1802. It is probably the property advertised thus for sale in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 4 August 1810:


TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by W. FISHER, at the Three Goats Inn, in the Corn Market, on Thursday the 16th day of August 1810, between the hours of Five and Seven, under conditions of sale which will be then produced,–A HOUSE , near the Post Office, consisting of a good shop, parlour, drawing room, kitchen, and cellar. These premises, which are in excellent repair, are held by lease under the City of Oxford, and now in the occupation of Mrs. Smith.–Possession may be had at Michaelmas next....

The cordwainer William Lillingston appears to have set up business here in 1832. His wife Sophia died here at the age of 31 on 22 September 1836, and he married his second wife, Catherine. At the time of the 1841 census he is listed here with Catherine and his six-year-old son by his first marriage, plus a servant. He died here in 1849 at the age of 47 and on 24 February his widow Catherine announced her intention of carrying on his business. In 1853 she married William Castle Lucy, and they lived at 3 Park Place. Lucy managed the shop with her second husband, and in 1867 they expanded into No. 41 next door. In 1868 the former Mrs Lillingston married her third husband, Henry Boswell, and gave up the shop in the 1870s.

From 1880 to at least the late 1980s the Blagrove family had this shop, first as a jeweller's and then from 1890 as an opticians (photograph).

In 1989 Thornton's Chocolates opened its first shop in Oxford here before moving down to 48 Cornmarket Street in 1998.

Occupants of 40 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


William Lillingston
Boot & shoemaker (together with No. 41 to the south from 1867)


F. Blagrove
Watchmaker, jeweller,& electric gilder (together with No. 41 to the south)

F. Blagrove Optician in 1890

E. Issott & Sons Opticians in 1921

F. Blagrove & Co Opticians from 1932


Thornton's Chocolates


Snappy Snaps

40 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


The cordwainer William Lillingston (35) lived here with his second wife Catherine (25) and his son by his first marriage, William (6). They had one female servant.


Kate Lillingston (35), now a widow and described as a cordwainer employing 18 men and 12 boys, lived here with her stepson William (15), who was “working in the business”, a shopwoman aged 27, and a housemaid.


Described as uninhabited.


No listing.


This house was jointly occupied with No. 41 to the south by Frederick Blagrove (40), described as a watch-maker & jeweller, his wife Ellen (32) and daughters Alice (14), Beatrice (7), and Ella (4).


Listed as uninhabited: probably part of the optician's shop downstairs.


Listed as uninhabited but in occupation: probably part of the optician's shop downstairs.


No listing.

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