Oxford History: The High


23: Birds & Blend Tea Co.

23 High Street

The group of five shops numbered 19–23 High Street dates from the late eighteenth century, and the upstairs rooms were converted intto Brasenose College accommodation around 1930. They were in the parish of All Saints until that church was deconsecrated in 1971. They are now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

No. 23 is the pink shop to the right of the group (attached to part of Brasenose) and is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1369358).

On 24 May 1806 the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

RESPECTFULLY inform the Ladies of Oxford and its Vicinity, that they have opened a Shop, in the High Street, Five Doors below All Saints' Church, and ust returned from London with an elegant and fashionable Assortment of Millinery and Fancy Dresses, together with a Variety of Straw and Chip Hats, all of which may be depended upon being quite new and fashionable.
N.B. A Variety of Child Bed Linen kept

By 1839 this was James Liddell's tailor's shop, but by 1846 James Embling was the tailor here. The 1851 census shows him as a widower of 38, living over his tailor’s shop with his son James (a 14-year-old schoolboy) and one servant. He was listed as an employer of six men, and in 1853 Henry Taunt, who was just eleven years old, was one of his employees. (Taunt, destined to become a famous local photographer, was then earning 4/- a week, and was able to read or paint in the back of the shop when things were quiet. Three years later, at the age of 14, he moved to a job just three shops away at No. 26 and began his photographic career.)

By the time of the 1861 census Embling had married again and then lost his second wife, and was living here with his son Thomas (2) and daughter Lucy (1) and three servants. In 1871 he was here with three of his children: John (16), William (15), and Thomas (12), two of his nieces, and a servant.

In 1881 he was still living over the shop with four of his children, plus a cook and housemaid.

In 1909, when Brasenose College demolished the old Ryman’s at Nos. 24 and 25, Ryman’s moved into this shop (and Colin Lunn the cigar-maker moved from here into No. 22 next door).

Photograph of 23 High Street in 1949, when it was occupied by Ryman's

Occupiers of 23 High Street


James Liddell, Tailor


James Embling, Tailor & robe maker


F. Nash, Hosier
Mrs Florence Hill, Lodging house


Colin Lunn, Cigar maker
Mrs Florence Hill, Lodging house


Ryman & Co. Ltd, Artists’ materials, fine art, glass, picture & picture frame dealers


Oxford Gallery (Joan Crossley-Holland)


Hampstead Bazaar


Molton Brown








Oxford Blue / Oxford Memories souvenirs


Fedele Oxford


Birds & Blend Tea Co.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 5 May, 2021

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