Oxford History: The High


85: Antiques on High

85 High Street

No. 85 is a timber-framed house of the seventeenth or eighteenth century that was enlarged in the early nineteenth century. It is owned by University College, and there is student accommodation upstairs.

It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1139039). It was in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957.

This site was originally owned by The Queen’s College, and the Saracen’s Head stood here by 1442.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. No. 85 was then in the occupation of Mrs Horn, and its frontage measured 7 yards 1 foot 7 inches

During the early part of the nineteenth century the house was occupied by the Hickman father and son, both plumbers. At the time of the 1851 census, Mrs Lucy Hickman, a widow of 47 described as a “plumber and glazier”, lived here alone with one servant. In Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 20 April 1850 she thanked people for help with a fire that destroyed the workshop behind this building, and threatened her home and shop.

In 1861 the building was occupied by George Webb, a gun maker, and his family.

In 1871 James Brown, a beer & stout agent, lived here with his family.

On 15 September 1877 this building was advertised as follows in Jackson's Oxford Journal:


TO be LET—No. 85, High Street. A large, commodious, and substantially-built HOUSE, excellently situated, capable of letting four sets of University Lodgings, with good garden and very large room at back of premises.

In 1881 Richard Beesley, a lodging house keeper, lived here with his wife and niece.

The premises upstairs were unoccupied in 1891, and on 4 June 1892 the building was advertised for sale with a sitting tenant in the building at the back:

All that substantially-built LEASEHOLD LICENSED UNIVERSITY LODGING-HOUSE, known as No. 85, High-street, Oxford, containing on the ground floor, Entrance Passage, Hall, Dining Room, and small Sitting Room; on the first floor, good Drawing Room, Bed Room, and China Closet; on the second floor, 2 Rooms and w.c.; on the third floor, 2 Bed Rooms and Linen Closet; and on the top floor, 2 Attics; front Kitchen, Scullery, 2 Pantries, and good Wine Cellar in the basement; large Garden, Paved Coal Yard, Servants' w.c., and a Building consisting of 3 Rooms in the rear; as now in the occupation of Miss Parker, at a rental of £80 per annum.

It is held under Queen's College, Oxford, for an unexpired term of 10 years from August, 1892, at an annual Ground Rent of £2.

In 1911 James Leed (36), a tobacconist, lived here over his shop with his wife and two sons.

This shop was part of the Co-op cafe next door until 1956, when it became a Co-op grocer’s shop. This survived until 1970.

In 1971 the City of Oxford Motor Services moved in, but in 1976 they moved to their present home at No. 83, just next door but one.

In 1984 No. 84 next door became the Frank Cooper shop again, and it took over this shop for its office, museum, and storage premises.

In the early 1970s, a transfer of property between The Queen’s College and University College brought this shop at No. 85 under the same ownership as its neighbours to the east and the upper floors of Nos. 83–85 were made into a single unit, which has been occupied by students of University College since that date.

Photograph of No. 85 in 1949, when it was a snack bar

Occupiers of 85 High Street


Charles Randall Hickman, Plumber &c. (1839, 1846)
Lucy Hickman, Painter & glazier, his widow (1849–1852)


George Webb


James Brown, Ale & porter merchant


Richard Beesley


Mrs Elizabeth Parker, University lodgings


James C. Leed Tobacconist
Mrs J. C. Leed, University lodgings


George E. Weeks & Co., Bakers


Russell Butler, Peto & Marks, Auctioneers & estate agents


Part of Co-op Café at Nos. 83 and 84


Co-operative Grocery


City of Oxford Motor Services Ltd


Frank Cooper Ltd Museum (and at 84)


Antiques on High

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 July, 2021

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