Oxford History: The High


108: Sweaty Betty

108 High Street

No. 108 used to be a smaller shop in the middle of a terraced row, but when its immediate neighbours to the west, Nos. 109 and 110, were obliterated in 1873 to make room for King Edward Street, it was rebuilt as a large corner shop, designed by F. Codd. It has always been in the parish of St Mary-the-Virgin.

The early occupants of the original house on this site can be identified from Balliol College deeds relating to the house next door that made way for the road, as it names the adjoining neighbours to the east. Thus the old No. 108, a tenement of Oriel College, was occupied as follows:

  • 28 June 1589: Garbrand Harkes
  • 31 December 1618: Mrs Garbrand
  • 31 December 1642 and 18 January 1667/8: Toby Garbrand alias Harkes
  • 14 October 1702, 14 October 1712: William Pufford, coffeeman
  • 12 November 1722: Widow Pufford
  • 10 December 1790: William Jones, silversmith
  • 11 January 1797: Blunt, breeches-maker
  • 21 July 1804: Widow Jones
  • 27 January 1820 and 31 January 1832: Thomas Slatter, tailor

By 1837 the premises were occupied by the ironmongers Edwards & Hewett, who also had No. 109 next door. On 18 April 1846 George Hewett, who now had sole management, announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was renouncing the ironmongery business here in favour of Henry Floyd.

The 1851 census shows Henry Floyd, the ironmonger at the old shop on this site, living over his shop with his wife, two apprentices, and a general servant, as well as George Hewett, a land surveyor, listed as a separate household of one.

By 1861 William Floyd had taken over the business, and was described as the employer of 15 men.

In 1871 John Goundrey was the ironmonger here: he employed 13 men and four boys.

The old shop was demolished in 1873, and Jackson's Oxford Journal reported on 11 October that year:

Mr. Codd, architect, of this City, has designed, and Mr. Selby has built, at the north-east corner of this street, a substantial house for Messrs. Hitchcock and Sons, chemists. It has a frontage of 22 feet in the High-street, and 71 feet in King Edward-street. The front elevation of the house is in the Italian style, with tuck-pointed white brick facing, and Bath stone dressings to the upper part; and to the lower part stone piers and ashlaring to the level of the shop facia, which is surmounted by an ornamental iron railing. The building is beautified in several ways, and in the carving are represented several heads of Sovereigns and other benefactors to Oriel College (the owners of the property), the most prominent of which is the head of King Edward, taken from a painting in the possession of the College. The whole of the carving has been executed in the most satisfactory manner by Mr. S. Grafton, of Park End-street, in this City. The internal arrangements, too, are complete in every respect, and care has been taken to ensure efficient light and ventilation. The house cost about 3000l., and is already opened.

At the time of the 1881 census Charles Garrard Hitchcock, the chemist at the present shop, lived upstairs with his wife, two daughters, and two servants.

Occupiers of 108 High Street
Darker background indicates a former shop on the same site 


Edwards & Hewett, Ironmongers & Engineers (and at 109 High Street)


Thomas Wyatt, Baker (only in 1846 directory)

George Hewett, Land surveyor

Henry Floyd, Ironmonger


J. Goundrey, Ironmonger


Hitchcock & Sons [later & Co.], Chemists


Dolbear & Goodall, Chemists


Savory & Moore Ltd, Chemists




Sweaty Betty

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 13 June, 2021

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