Oxford History: The High


34: Reginald Davis

34 High Street

No. 34 has an eighteenth-century front, possibly on a seventeenth-century house. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1047278). It was in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957.

This was a private house until 1867.

In 1696 Sir Robert Harrison, twice Mayor of Oxford, paid tax on twenty windows at this house.

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. 34 was then in the occupation of a Mr Wickham, and its frontage measured exactly 8 yards.

No. 34 can be seen just to the left of the centre in the 1834 engraving below, partly hidden by the tree:

33 to 38 High Street in 1834

The solicitor John Matthews lived in this house prior to 1841, and that year's census shows him alone here with his three female servants, his wife and daughers evidently away.

The surgeon James Torry Hester lived here from later in 1841 to 1847.

On 14 August 1847 the forthcoming auction of this house was advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal:


MESSRS. J. and W. FISHER are instructed to SELL by AUCTION, at the Star Hotel, on Tuesday the 24th of August, at Three o'clock,—That capital HOUSE, in the best part of the High-street, opposite University College, now in the occupation of J. T. Hester, Esq., surgeon, and for many years of Mr. Matthews, solicitor. The House is commodious, containing a very elegant drawing room, good breakfast, dining, and sleeping rooms, water closet, and servants' offices, which are spacious and very complete. The building is substantial—the exterior handsome, and though in so central a situation there is a good garden at the back.

The property is held under Magdalen College for 40 years, from the 6th of August 1945.

At the time of the 1851 census this house was occupied by Anne Prichard, an annuitant, with her two daughters, her granddaughter, and two servants.

George Valentine Cox (1786–1875), the author of Recollections of Oxford (1868) who had previously lived in Cowley House (now part of St Hilda’s College), lived here at the time of the 1861 census: a widower of 75 described as an Esquire Bedel, he was accompanied by his three spinster daughters

In 1867 this house was changed into a shop. Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 19 October that year reported:

The house formerly occupied by Mr Valentine Cox, in the High-street, has been altered on the ground floor, so as to afford a shop window for Mr Muir, the present occupant. It is not an example of any particular school of art, yet the effect is decidedly pleasing.

The Scottish tailor Joseph A. Muir, a tailor & gentlemen's mercer, advertised in April 1878 that he had been appointed sole agent in Oxford for the sale of the archery good of his father's (Peter Muir of Edinburgh. He was living upstairs with his family in 1871.

By the time of the 1881 census, this shop had tenants upstairs: a college servant, with his wife and two children.

In 1891 Robert Simmons (62), a tailor, lived upstairs with his wife Elizabeth, who kept a small lodging house here, and their daughter and servant.

The well-known Oxford photographer Henry Taunt moved to this shop in about 1895 from No. 41 High Street, and he remained here until 1906, when he removed all his work to his home on the Cowley Road.

Occupiers of 34 High Street

Prior to 1841

John Matthews, Solicitor


James T. Hester, Surgeon


Revd C. E. Prichard

By 1861–1867

G. V. Cox, Esq., Esquire bedel


J. A. Muir, Tailor & robe maker; agent for Muir’s archery


H. J. Wheeler, Boot & shoe maker


Alan John Adamson, Tailor


Sidney Biggs & Co, Booksellers & stationers


Henry W. Taunt & Co., Photographers


Louis Valette, Church repository


Victor R. E. Drewe, Hairdresser


Oliver Smith, Antique furniture dealer (1932)
The Antiquary (1935–1939)


Reginald Davis, Jewellers

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 June, 2022

The High home Small Shark Oxford History home