Oxford History: The High


Catte Street

Catte Street

This street was recorded as Kattestreete in the early thirteenth century, as Mousecatcher’s Lane in 1442, and as Cat Street in the eighteenth century. It has always been in the parish of St Mary-the-Virgin.

Catte Street only ran northwards as far as New College Lane: the part to the north of that (which was beyond the original city wall) was considered to be the eastern part of Broad Street, and was in a different parish (Holywell).

In 1913 Hertford College expanded northwards, linking Catte Street and the east side of Broad Street with a bridge, and demolishing No. 28 Broad Street, and then in 1923 it also demolished 30 Broad Street and rebuilt the former octagonal chapel at No. 29. Since this time the name of Catte Street has been generally used for the full length of the street, although the Indian Institute building's address is still Broad Street.

In the mid-nineteenth century it was given the more respectable name of Catherine Street, which can be seen on the postcard on below, which dates from c.1900.

Catherine Street

The Post Office Directory for 1867 lists the following under Catherine-street, showing that St Mary's Lane on the western side of the Radcliffe Camera was then also considered to be part of the street:

  • Mary Hall (Saint) [original home of Oriel College in the Rectory of St Mary-the-Virgin Church]
  • Magdalen Hall [refounded as Hertford College in 1874]
  • Bodleian Library
  • All Souls' College
  • St. Mary's Church
  • Brasenose College
  • Gadney, S.
  • Bickerton, Joseph
  • Hayward, H.

In the 1870s the name Catherine Street was also given to a street in East Oxford, and so in 1930 a more robust city council restored its original name, Catte Street, together with its fifteenth-century spelling.

The south end of Catte Street has been completely closed to motor vehicles since 1973.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 27 July, 2020

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