Oxford History: The High


1–5: Lloyds Bank

Lloyd's Bank at Carfax

There is a sharp contrast in style between the two main sections of the current Oxford branch of Lloyds Bank. The early-twentieth-century section that turns the corner from Cornmarket into the High Street is extremely ornate, and Pevsner says that it “shows the consequences of seeing too much Jackson about every day. There is nowhere that motifs don’t sprout, alternately blocked columns, Ipswich windows, big, steep shaped gables.” The smaller and older building to the east (formerly 4 & 5 High Street) dates from c.1800 and is much plainer.

Both sections of the current bank are Grade II listed:

  • 1–3 High Street and 1 Cornmarket: List Entry No. 1369375
  • 4–5 High Street: List Entry No. 1116352

Nos. 1–5 High Street were in the parish of St Martin's (Carfax) until that church was demolished in 1896, and then in the parish of All Saints’ Church until that was deconsecrated in 1971. The bank is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

The whole of the Lloyds Bank premises here on the site of the former Nos. 1–5 High Street and 1 & 1A Cornmarket was purchased by Brasenose College in late 2018, and the bank remains as tenants. The College states here that in the medium term it will consider adapting the upper floors for accommodation for its students.

The four shops on the corner of Carfax that were demolished

The former 1 to 3 High Street

The drawing on the right was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 21 July 1900 under the heading “CARFAX IMPROVEMENT”. It shows two buildings (1 Cornmarket /1 High Street to the left and 2 & 3 High Street to the right) that were about to be demolished.

The text underneath read: “Above we give a sketch of the buildings at the north-east corner of Carfax which are shortly to be pulled down for the widening and improvement of the thoroughfare at that corner of Carfax.”

Below: the corner building in an 1835 engraving

The former corner building

On 28 April 1900 Jackson's Oxford Journal had reported on a special meeting of the city council held three days' earlier where it adopted the General Purposes Committee's report to purchase this corner building, stating.

No. 1, High-street, is in the occupation of Mr. Alfred Savage at the annual rent of £120. After considerable negotiation with Mr. Montague W. Wootten an opportunity arose of acquiring this property. It has been purchased by Dr. Galpin, as agent for Alderman Gray, for the sum of £4,500. A copy of the contract is produced. Alderman Gray offers the property to the Corporation at the same price. 

Photograph of the old building on the corner, just before demolition, showing Savage's facing the High Street and The Creamery facing Cornmarket

The ornate early-twentieth-century building on the north-east corner of Carfax

Since 1976 Lloyds Bank has occupied seven adjacent shops, namely 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 High Street as well 1 and 1A Cornmarket Street. They were only responsible, however, for building a small part of it. The redevelopment of this corner started off as a much smaller plan by Lloyd's Bank to replace 2 & 3 High Street with a new building for their bank.

On 1 January 1900 Lloyds had opened at temporary premises in Oxford at 11 Cornmarket Street, but evidently wanted a more impressive building to compete with the premises of Oxford's three other established banks, namely Barclays (which had just taken over the Old Bank at 92/93 High Street), the London & County Banking Company Ltd (which had moved into its new premises at 120–122 High Street in 1869), and the London City & Midland Bank Ltd (which had built new premises at Carfax on the site of four shops at 62–65 Cornmarket in 1896/7).

The bank bought the shops at 2 & 3 High Street that were then occupied by the booksellers Slatter & Rose: they vacated the premises in mid-1900, moving to 16 High Street. The new building (below) was designed specifically for the bank by Stephen Salter. The Directors of Lloyds Bank had also planned to rebuild the two shops on the corner of Carfax at the same time, but this idea fell through.

2 & 3

Design for original Lloyds Bank

Above left: The original Lloyds Bank at Nos. 2 & 3 High Street photographed in September 2019

Above right: Drawing published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 1 December 1900 under the heading “NEW BANK PREMISES AT CARFAX”. This drawing was a copy of the design for the bank that Salter had made earlier in the year, and shows the bank running along the original building line to join up with the earlier building at 1 High Street on the left.

When the bank submitted Salter's plans for 2 & 3 High Street, however, Oxford City Council referred the plans back to the bank in August 1900 and negotiated for the building to slope back at an angle from the road to start a gentle curve that the council could later continue around into Cornmarket to create more space at Carfax. Jackson's Oxford Journal of 25 August 1900 reported on a city council meeting held three days earlier on 22 August to appoint an arbitrator to decide how much compensation the council should pay the bank for the 8¾ yards of the site that they now wanted to be part of the public street. On 3 November 1900 it reported that a sum of £500 for 78 square feet had been agreed.

Over five months earlier on 23 June 1900 the city council had purchased 1 High Street for £4,500, and negotiations for 1 Cornmarket Street (which was part of the same corner building) had begun. The text underneath the above drawing of Salter's original plan published on 1 December 1900 mentions that the bank's new building would now be set back from the frontage of the old Slatter & Rose shop (in anticipation of what the city council planned):

The above sketch was drawn by our artist from the plan for the proposed new premises at Carfax, to be erected for Lloyds Bank, Limited. The new structure is to occupy the site of Slatter and Rose's old premises, and will be set back from two to three feet beyond the present frontage. The whole of the front will be faced with Milton stone, and the approximate cost of the building exceeds £6,500. The architect is Mr. Stephen Salter, F.R.I.B.A., and the contractors are Messrs. Benfield and Loxley.

Lloyds Bank moved into the present building (which was then still numbered 2–3 High Street) as soon as it was finished in 1901, and Stephen Salter (the architect who designed it) moved across the road from 136 High Street into one of the many offices upstairs.

In 1902 Lloyds Bank bought 1 High Street and the adjoining shops at 1/1A Cornmarket from the City Council and began work on Phase 2 of their development, which rounded off the corner and allowed more room for the heavy traffic that met at the crossroads. The architect Stephen Salter continued the building in the same style. The Oxford Chronicle of 23 October 1903 (p. 7) showed the architect’s drawing of the complete new building and reported as follows:

The two old shops at the corner of Carfax have been removed, and two new ones, with suites of offices, are roof high. Both the shops have been already let by Messrs. Hamlet and Dulake; they will complete the block original design, of which Messrs Lloyds Bank was only an isolated portion. The renaissance style adopted does not appear to advantage in a narrow front, but is exceedingly effective in a block. The buildings are designed to bring in the utmost return in outlay, and as third floor offices do not let readily, a fine studio across the entire width of the two shops, having a north roof light, has been designed. The contractors are Messrs. Benfield and Loxley, the architect Mr. Stephen Salter, F.R.I.B.A., of Carfax, and the carving is being executed by Mr W. H. Feldon of Oxford.

Until the mid-1920s the bank let out the shops on the corner and continued to occupy just 2 & 3 High Street. The photograph below, probably dating from around 1920, shows the jeweller H. Samuel at 1 Cornmarket Street and a cigar shop at 1 High Street, and between them is a large entrance on the corner of Carfax. The shops at No. 4 & 5 on the right whose signs are obscured by their sunblinds must be Sainsbury's the grocer and Gill's the ironmonger.

Carfax corner

In the mid-1920s Lloyds Bank expanded into No. 1 High Street to the west and around the corner into 1  Cornmarket Street (thus now occupying the whole of Salter's ornate building), and also into the older building at 1A Cornmarket Street.

In 1971 Lloyds Bank bought Nos. 4 & 5, but leased them back to Sainsbury's until the latter were able to move into their present shop in the new Westgate Centre in c.1974. The bank then demolished most of the building, but retained the existing façade. For a short time the bank moved into this new building while refurbishing their original building to the west. They now occupy the whole of their present site.

Occupants of former building at 1–3 High Street (demolished in 1900/1)

Former No. 1

The 1851 census shows William Wiseman, the draper here, living over the shop with his wife, six children, and his sole employee, a draper’s assistant. By 1861, he was also living over No. 2. In 1871 the draper Joseph Blake was living here with his wife and two sons, an assistant draper and an apprentice, and two servants.

The stationer Alfred Savage, who produced many postcards of Oxford, had his shop here from 1889.

No. 1 High Street was sold by Sarah Wootten on 23 June 1900 to the Mayor and Corporation for £4,500, and Savage moved to a new shop at 2 & 3 Queen Street. In 1902 the council sold 1 High Street and the adjoining 1/1A Cornmarket Street to Lloyds Bank, who demolished the three shops to complete their building project.

Former Nos. 2–3

In 1851 the business partners Henry Slatter (aged 61) and John Rose (aged 26) lived over Nos. 2–3, together with an apprentice and two servants. Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) recorded in his diary on 2 February 1856 that he ordered poetry books at Slatter's bookshop here.

In 1861 William Wiseman appears to have occupied the upstairs of No. 2, while Henry Slatter continued to live over No. 3. By 1871 the bookseller John Rose lived over Nos. 2–3; he was still there in 1881: he was then a bachelor of 56, living with his 78-year old mother, his two spinster sisters, and a cook and housemaid. They were forced to move out in the summer of 1900 to make way for the new building and continued to trade at 16 High Street.

Occupants of the present building at 4–5 High Street (dating from c.1800)

No. 4

J. & F. Withers, chemists & druggists, announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 8 April 1848 that they had moved here.

J. Drew, the hatter here, went bankrupt in 1841, and on 22 & 23 December all his stock in trade, household furniture, and effects were auctioned.

In 1851 another hatter John Mawer lived over No. 4 with his wife and a servant. In 1861 the hatter’s shop was still there, but the upstairs was let out to John Rose of Slatter & Rose at Nos. 2–3 next door. The living quarters are not listed in the 1871 census.

J. Sainsbury Ltd had a shop at No. 4 High Street from c.1910 which expanded to include No.  5 High Street in about 1926. It remained at 4 & 5 High Street until it moved to its present larger store at the Westgate Centre in the 1970s.

No. 5
In 1851 James Gill the ironmonger, a bachelor of 35, lived over No. 5 with a housekeeper, a general servant, and a lodger. He was still there in 1861, when he is described as an ironmonger employing 18 men and three boys. The living quarters are not listed in the 1871 census. The premises were partly destroyed by fire on 2 April 1890, and Jackson's Oxford Journal of 11 October 1890 reported on the rebuilding work:

IMPROVEMENTS AT TRADESMEN’S ESTABLISHMENTS.—Messrs. Gill and Co.’s premises in the High-street, which were partially destroyed by fire on April 2nd, have been re-constructed. The house front, which was greatly damaged, has been partly taken down and re-built. The whole of the roof is new, and there has been a great structural alteration in the interior, on account of No. 4, which was held by Messrs. Mawer and Son previous to the fire, now being added to Messrs. Gill and Co’s premises. The ground, second, and third floors are formed into spacious show rooms and stores, the first floor being reserved for offices, lavatories, &c. This establishment will now comprise some of the finest show rooms in this part of the country. The whole of the re-building was executed in the remarkably short time of ten week. Messsrs. Christopher and White, of Bloomsbury-square, London, were the architects, and Messrs. Symm and Co. the contractors.

The ironmonger James Gill remained in these large premises at 4 & 5 High Street until 1911, when the business retreated back into to No. 5 and Sainsbury's moved into No. 4.

In 1922 Barlow & Alden Ltd and Ison, Kidman & Watts amalgamated under the name of Gill & Co. Ltd.

Then in 1925 Sainsbury’s at No. 4 expanded into No. 5, rejoining the two shops again, and Gill's moved across the road to 127–8 High Street. In about 1953 it moved into a smaller shop in the adjacent passage.

Occupiers of 1–5 High Street
Darker background = former buildings on this site, now replaced


1 High St

1A High Street

2 & 3 High St

4 High St

5 High St


Mr L. Berrick

Mr Moor, Mr Smith,
& Mr Bullock

Mr Midwinter, Mr Treadwell,
& Mrs Smith
(possibly not the present building)


William Wiseman

(later Wiseman
& Blake)

Henry Slatter


E. King, Surgeon dentist
in the 1830s,
presumably upstairs






Slatter & Rose
& newsagents

by 1856

Joseph Drew

Charles Pilcher


Joseph Steane

Gill & Ward
Ironmongers, gasfitters etc.

(also at No. 6
from 1889)

By 1851–1871

John Wm Mawer
Hatter & hosier

& Son




University & City
Wine & Spirit Stores

Carfax Chambers:
Comfort Bros,
F. J. Connell,
G. Wells,
with Goold &
Buckell Coal Exchange


Goold & Buckell
Carfax Coal Exchange
(This is the sole listing at
No. 1, but may refer just to 1A)

In one year only, 1887,
F. Flight, confectioner &
, is listed with
no number before No 1


Alfred Savage

Goold & Buckell
Carfax Coal Exchange

Goold & Son
from 1890


Gill & Co.


No listing
(Slatter & Rose
now at No. 16)


No listing


Lloyds Bank Ltd

with numerous
offices listed

From 1904
offices over
1 High Street and 1 Cornmarket
were included*


Tobacco Co.


John Sainsbury
Provision merchant

Gill & Co.



Colin Lunn,
Cigar merchant


No listing



Lloyds Bank Ltd

J. Sainsbury Ltd
Grocers, provision merchants & butchers


Lloyds Bank PLC
(named Lloyds TSB from 1998 to September 2013)

* Listed below are the offices listed under 2 & 3 High Street in 1905 and in 1922. The increase in the number of offices suggests that they in fact occupied all the property above Lloyds Bank, including the part around the corner in Cornmarket. It seems likely that the only access to these offices was the new entrance between 2 & 3 High Street.


  • Edward Alfred Dowling, physician & surgeon
  • Oxford Cottage Improvement Society Ltd
  • William Francis Tilby, certificated bailiff
  • Desmond Castle & Co, civil engineers
  • Charles F. Haines, chartered accountant
  • Stephen Salter, architect & surveyor
  • J. Coole, rent collector
  • Percy J. Byzant, artist
  • Richard Butler, caretaker


  • Edwin T. Hatt, solicitor
  • Oxford Cottage Improvement Society Ltd
  • William Francis Tilby, estate agent
  • Richard Henry John Bartlett, estate agent
  • J. H. B. Wright, Deputy Registrar of births and
    deaths and registrar of marriages (Oxford district)
  • Cyril Gerrard Gunn, Deputy Registrar of marriages
  • W. Howes Linnell, Clerk to the Oxford Incorporation
  • Chamber of Trade
  • Henry Donkin, stock & share & insurance broker
  • Diocesan Clerical Registry (H. Donkin)
  • University Typewriting Office (first floor)
  • Bacon & Co, printers
  • Miss Frances Drummond, artist
  • Banbury Division Liberal Association
  • South Midland Transport & Touring Co. Ltd.
  • Matthew William Webb, artist

Then the School of Foreign Languages is
listed before 4 High Street, with no number

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 31 July, 2021

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