Oxford History: The High


71: Hoyle’s Games & Puzzles & 72: Oxford Spires Barbers

71 High Street

These are the last two in the terrace of eleven houses and shops belonging to Magdalen College that is attached to the back of Magdalen Gate house. This terrace was rebuilt subsequent to the widening of Magdalen Bridge that took place in 1772–8.

Nos. 71 (left) and 72 (right) are the two halves of a single building which is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047290). It was in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957.

No. 71

John & Joseph Mee, mercers, drapers & milliners, had their shop here from 1829 to 1832. On 7 November 1829 they stated at their show room in the High Street would be “of the most splendid order”, and they named the shop Commerce House. On 23 April 1831 it was reported that they were fined 10s. and costs for “exposing goods to sale on the footway”. They appear to have gone bankrupt, and on 25 February 1832 a sale of all their stock in trade for the benefit of their creditors was advertised, including:

Prints, Printed Muslins, Ginghams, Muslins, Irish Linens, Lawns, Dowlasses, Sheeting, Blankets, Quilts and Counterpanes; Bed Furnitures, Ticks, Table Linen, Diapers and Huckabacks; Flannels and Baizes; Brown Hollands, Calicoes Fustians, Nankeens, Dimities, Checks, Pocket Handkerchiefs, Silk Handkerchiefs, Thibets and Silk Shawls, Sarsnets, Gros de Naples, Italian Nets and Crape de Lyons; Satins and Persians; Norwich Crapes, Bombazeens, Stuffs, Crapes, Merinos, Nets, Laces and Edgings, Muslin Trimmings, Gloves, Silk, Cotton, and Worsted Stockings, Socks, a large assortment of Ribbons, Furs, Haberdashery, Umbrellas and Parasols, quantity of Stays—The Woollen Drapery comprises superfine Broad-Cloths, Kersymeres, Coatings, Waistcoatings, Cords, Fustians, Drabetts, Drills, Pelisse Cloths, Shalloons, Table Covers, Buttons. An Assortment of Men's and Boys' Hats and Caps.—The Millinery consists of Soi Cloaks, Cloth and Camlet ditto; Silk and Leghorn Bonnets, Caps, Habit Shirts and Frills, Feathers, and numerous other articles....

Mrs Sarah Plowman, who described herself as a “General Ironmonger, Brush Factor, Oil and Colour Merchant, Brazier, Tin-plate Worker, Bell-hanger, and Whitesmith” announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 1 September 1832 that together with her sons Joseph Plowman and William Plowman she had taken over this shop near the bottom of the High Street (formerly occupied by Messrs Mee & Co) in addition to her existing shop at 43 Cornmarket.

On 22 February 1834 William Plowman that he was taking over the business here, while his mother Sarah and brotherJoseph would manage the old business in Cornmarket. At the time of the 1841 census William Plowman, ironmonger, was duly living over this shop with his wife and two young children, plus their two lodgers and two servants.

On 8 April 1843 the draper H. Hatch announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was taking over Plowman's shop opposite Longwall.

No. 71 was described thus when it was advertised to let in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 17 May 1845:

Excellent HOUSE, in the HIGH STREET, Oxford,
Either as a Place of Business, or as a Private Residence,
TO be LET, with immediate possession,–That very superior HOUSE, No. 71, comprising (on the ground floor) private entrance, large room, extending from the front to back of the house, which has been used as a shop and counting house, and may be converted into two good sitting rooms; on the one-pair stairs floor—dining and drawing rooms, dressing room, and water closet; good kitchen and cellars in the basement; a paved yard, and detached wash-house, with servants' room over, and a good warehouse.

At the time of the 1851 census the chemist Richard Jones had this shop and lived upstairs with his wife and four children, plus an assistant, an apprentice, a servant, and a lodger. On 2 January 1858 his widow Mary Jones announced that the business would in future be carried on by her son, Richard Finden Jones, together with her husband's former assistant William Henry Turner. In 1860 Jones & Turner opened a second chemist's shop in Turl Street. At the time of the 1861 census Richard Finden Jones (26) was the head of the household upstairs here at 71 High Street, and his mother, two sisters, an apprentice, and a servant lived with him. The partnership was dissolved on 1 January 1866, and henceforth Jones ran the business here and Turner the one in Turl Street.

Richard Finden Jones still lived here at the time of the 1871 census with his wife, an apprentice, and two servants.

In 1881 the chemist Henry Varney lived over his shop with his 11-year-old niece and two servants. He was still here in 1891.

The bottle below dates from between 1902 and 1910 when John William Todd was the chemist here.

Bottle of Todd the chemist

There is no separate listing for this shop in the 1911 census.

72 High Street in the 1920s


No. 72

This was a private house occupied by Dr Twycross until 1835. It was then grocer’s shop until 1870, and a sweet shop for a hundred years from about 1870 until 1971.

The grocer George Henry Warburton announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 19 September 1835 that on that day he had moved to more commodious premises in this shop, and would be stocking "fine flavoured Teas, Chocolate, Cocoa, West India and fine Mocha Coffees, Spices, Fruits; Wax, Spermaceti, London Mould, and Store Candles; fine Yorkshire Hams; Gloucester and Wiltshire Cheese; and a variety of other articles of Grocery of the best quality”. At the time of the 1841 census he was living over his shop with his wife, a grocer's boy, a lodger, and a servant. He was still here in 1851, when he was aged 55 and serving as Mayor of Oxford, again with with his wife, an assistant grocer, two servants, and a lodger. He was still here at the time of the 1861 census, but died five months later.

In 1871 the college servant Henry Carr lived upstairs here; he was still here with his wife and their servant in 1881.

In 1891 the widow Agnes Lambourn lived upstairs, where she kept a lodging house.

In 1901 Francis Brooks and his wife Jane lived over their confectioner’s shop here. In 1911 Mrs Jane Brooks (74), now a widow, ran a licensed lodging house in the eight rooms over this shop. Her brother Edward Reynolds Collins (65) was now living with her, and worked as an assistant in the confectionery shop downstairs.


The photograph on the right, taken from a Henry Taunt postcard, shows the shop in the 1920s, with advertisement for Fry’s and Cadbury’s chocolate.

Photograph of c.1900 showing Varney the chemist on the left and Miss Brooks' confectioner's shop on the right

Occupiers of 71 & 72 High Street


No. 71

No. 72


Messrs Mee & Co (John & Joseph Mee)

George Henry Warburton
Grocer &c. (from 1835)


Mrs Sarah Plowman with her sons
Joseph & William Plowman
Ironmonger, Smith, Brazier, Oil Merchant


Richard Jones
Chemist & druggist (to 1858)

Jones & Turner
Chemist & druggist (1858–1866)

Richard Finden Jones
Chemist & druggist (1866–1876)


W. C. Williams
Grocer & wine merchant


William Frederick Cross
Wholesale confectioner

Upstairs: Henry Carr, college servant (1875–1885);
George Medcraft (1887–1892)


Henry George Varney
Chemist & druggist


Mrs Jane Brooks,

Upstairs: university lodgings


John William Todd
Pharmaceutical chemist

Upstairs: Arthur E. Chaundy


Stanley Clegg
Dispensing chemist & optician


Mrs Mabel Partridge


No listing

Mrs Sarah Walker


Madame Josephine

Harold W. Barnett


Reginald L. Millard,


G. R. Cowley
Confectioner & tobacconist

Upstairs: Oxford Old Etonians Club (to 1931), then lodgings


Edward Tyler-Jew
Antique dealer


East Gate Gallery
Antique dealers


Mrs M. G. Warner
Confectioner & tobacconist


E. C. Launchbury
Confectioner & tobacconist


No listing


Mrs E. Payne
Confectioner, tobacconist, stationer,& general stores


No listing





Oxford Blues


Oxford Holographics



Oxford Heritage Ltd
Games & puzzles


Hoyle’s Games & Puzzles [which then moved next door]
(Magdalen College undergraduate rooms upstairs)


Hoyle's Games & Puzzles
[moved from next door at No. 72]




Oxford Spires Barbers

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 August, 2021

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