43 Cornmarket Street: NatWest Bank

43-44 Cornmarket

The building on this site has always been in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

1772–1898: First known building on this site

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, No. 43 was occupied by Pricket and had a frontage measuring 9 yards 0 feet 6 inches.

Mrs Sarah Plowman, who described herself as a “General Ironmonger, Brush Factor, Oil and Colour Merchant, Brazier, Tin-plate Worker, Bell-hanger, and Whitesmith” had this shop by 1 September 1832, when she announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that together with her sons Joseph Plowman and William Plowman she was also taking over 71 High Street.

By 1839 her son Joseph Plowman was listed as the proprietor of this shop, and at the time of the 1841 census he was living here with his wife Maria and their son Joseph junior, plus a shopman, two apprentices, and three servants. Four years later, however, he went bankrupt, and on 19 July 1845 Jackson's Oxford Journal advertised an auction of his stock in trade, which as well as domestic ironmongery and agricultural implement included tools for builders, carpenters, cabinet makers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coopers, tinmen, and braziers. The vast amount equipment was to be auctioned over five days in 500 separate lots. Plowman then immediately took up the trade of an auctioneer at 1 St Aldate's Street.

On 11 October 1845 his mother Sarah Plowman announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that in consequences of very heavy losses she had been advised to recommence her ironmongery business here at her old shop in the Cornmarket which she had run for over thirty years. She died here in 1848.

The shop was then taken over by the ironmonger John Beck Brown, who inserted the following advertisement weekly into Jackson's Oxford Journal in the early 1850s


On 20 September 1856 Jackson's Oxford Journal advertised a forthcoming auction of this shop:

This desirable and eligible Property has a frontage to the street of 27 feet 3 inches, extends in depth 86 feet, and comprises a spacious double-fronted shop and counting-house, three comfortable sitting rooms on the first floor, six bed rooms and large store room on the second and third floors, suitable domestic offices, water closet and other conveniences, and, in the basement, is a large cellar or store room. In the rear are six warehouses, brazier's and smith's workshops, and yard, approached by a private entrance from the street.

An extensive trade has for many years been carried on in the above Premises, and the same are now in the occupation of Mr. J. B. Brown, ironmonger.

The Property is held by the Trustees of the Parish Estates of St. Michael, Oxford, by lease under Magdalen College, and the fine and fees for the renewal thereof for 40 years, from the 6th of December next, have been agreed on, and will be paid by the vendors.—The reserved Quit Rent will be £9 per annum

The Property is also subject to Land Tax.

John Beck Brown continued to occupy this shop until the 1890s, but by 1871 let out the accommodation over his shop and was living in style at 16 Park Crescent (now 23 Park Town). He died at the age of 73 in February 1897.

1898–1970: Second known building on this site

In 1898 a new highly ornamented building of bright red brick and terracotta was erected on this site. Jackson's Oxford Journal of 15 October 1898 stated that opinions differed as to whether so glaring and prominent a building was an improvement or not.

In 1899 the linen draper Alfred Bull combined this newly built shop with his original shop at No. 44 to the south. The photograph below dating from c.1920 shows this shop at No. 43 (right) and part of No. 44  (left) when the drapers H. & E. Morton occupied the premises:

43 & 44 Cornmarket.

Since 1970: Current building

The current building was part of the planning application by Gordon Thoday to demolish and replace Nos. 43, 44, 45, & 46 Cornmarket that was approved in 1970 (70/22385/AB_H). Thoday only occupied the three shops to the north, and No, 46 continued as a shoe shop until it was incorporated into HMV to the south in the 1980s.

Occupants of 43 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


Joseph Plowman (1836–1845)
Furnishing Ironmonger, Brush Factor,
Oil & Colour Mercht., Bell Hanger, Tin Plate Worker,
Whitesmith, Basket Maker, Cooper, Lithographic Draughtsman & Printer

Sarah Plowman, Ironmonger (1846–1848)


John Beck Brown
Ironmonger & gas fitter

Swearse & Thompson, Solicitors in 1880
Henry Frank Galpin, Solicitor in 1890

Rebuilt in 1898


Alfred (A. H.) Bull Ltd., Linen drapers
Mutual Life Insurance Co
and Beauchamp E. Tyrwhitt, Solicitor, in 1899


H. & E. Morton, Drapers (together with No. 44 to the south)


Greatbatch & Co. Ltd
China & glass showrooms


Manfield & Sons Ltd
Boot makers

Rebuilt in 1972


Dolcis Shoe Co


Part of HMV to the south




NatWest Bank

43 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


James Plowman (30) ironmonger, lived here with Maria (25) and Joseph (5), plus one shopman.


The ironmonger John Beck Brown (26), described as the employer of six men, lived here with his wife Emma (22) and his daughter Annie (one month). A shopman also lived with them, and they had one female servant.


The ironmonger John Beck Brown (36), described as the employer of six men and three boys, lived here with his wife Emma (32) and his sons Charles (8) and Thomas (4). Also living with them are an assistant ironmonger Thomas Bodgner (20) and an apprentice ironmonger Edward Copeland (18). They had a female house servant and a nursemaid.


John W. Hinckton (42), a surgeon, lived here with his wife Eliza (53) and his children Eliza (28), Lewis (25), Agnes (21), Adolphus (19), Francis (17), and Etherstan (14). They had one servant.


James Anns (28), described as porter, lived here with his wife Ellen (28), described as a housekeeper.


Ann Collins (47), the widowed caretaker of Henry Galpin's solicitor's office below, lived alone here.


Fourteen young drapers' assistants who worked in the large draper's shop below lived over the premises with a housekeeper and general servant.


No listing.

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