Oxford History: The High


113: Varsity Shop and 114: Space NK Apothecary

113 & 114

This large white building is occupied at No. 113 on the left by the Varsity shop (which is part of Shepherd & Woodward) and at No. 114 on the right by Space NK Apothecary. It was almost entirely rebuilt between 1932 and 1934, but some of the original features, such as two seventeenth-century fireplaces, remain. This building is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047254).

This building marks the start of the parish of All Saints, and was in that parish until that church was deconsecrated in 1971. It is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church. As the main part of Shepherd & Woodward to the east is in St Mary-the-Virgin parish, it means that the current shop straddles two parishes.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the house on the site of Nos. 113/114 was owned by a draper called John Bowell, and a chemical laboratory was built behind the premises. Anthony Wood wrote:

“About the beginning of 1663 Mr Sthael (the noted chemist) removed his school or elaboratory to a draper’s house called John Bowell, afterwards mayor of the citie of Oxon, situat and being in the parish of Allsaints, commonly called Allhallowes. He built his elaboratory in an old hall or refectory in the backside (for the house itself had been an ancient hostle).”

John Bowell paid Hearth Tax for six hearths at this house, the first in All Saints parish, in 1665, and poll tax records show him there in 1667. He was elected Mayor of Oxford in 1680. His “farthing token” of 1657 is shown below (picture kindly supplied by Peter Bowell) .

   Coin obverse
Coin reverse   

Left: Obverse of coin.
The text in the centre reads “IB 1657”, and
and around the edge is “IOHN BOWELL MERCER”

Right: Reverse of coin.
There is a sugar loaf (John Bowell’s emblem) in the centre,
and “SVGAR LOFE IN OXFORD” around the outside.

On 30 July 1842 a notice of a forthcoming auction describes this pair of shops, which were both held under lease under Lincoln College by Anthony Ortelli:

Two valuable HOUSES of BUSINESS, in the High-street, Oxford, with extensive back Premises to the same; consisting [No. 113] of a large double-fronted modern shop, a convenient room behind, kitchen, pantry, and other conveniences on the ground floor, with back entrance to the same; good cellaring in the basement; dining room and two bed rooms on the first floor; and also a dining room and three bed rooms on the second floor, the whole conveniently fitted up with closets;–at the back of the same are large Warehouses, now used as auction rooms, with separate entrance; a spacious ground-floor Workshop and Cellaring; a Dwelling House, containing six rooms, with attic over, and small garden; a spacious yard with stabling and warehouse, pump with good water, and other conveniences, now in the occupation of Mr. Ortelli, except the warehouses and workshops, which are occupied by Messrs Richard and Rockall, containing a frontage, in the best part of the High-street, of 22 ft. by a depth of about 170 ft.

A very convenient HOUSE of BUSINESS adjoining the above, in the High-street [No. 114]; consisting of a good front shop and back parlour on the ground floor; kitchen and other domestic offices in the basement; a dining room and bed room on the first floor, and three bed rooms and attic over, with joint use of yard, and other conveniences, now in the occupation of Mr. Marshall.

The former No. 113

At the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford, No. 113 was occupied by a Mr Strange. It appears that the shop was then occupied by the china & glass dealer William Crump, as on 12 September 1795 he announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was handing over the business to William Strange, son of the late Mr Strange who had formerly kept the shop for many years.

Anthony Ortelli (a jeweller, silversmith, cutler, and artificial flower manufacturer) announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 8 September 1838 that he had moved here to 113 High Street from St Clement's and had a large stock of jewellery, looking glasses, silver, and cutlery for sale, and could make to order in artificial flowers and feathers and recolour and repaint old feathers. At the time of the 1841 census Ortelli lived over his shop with what are probably his four grown-up children, plus a lodger, a watchmaker and a flower maker who were probably employed in his shop, and a female servant.

On 28 May 1842 Ortelli advertised that his shop-cum-dwelling house would be available to let from the following Michaelmas.

There has been a tailor's shop on this site since at least 1851. In the census that year the tailor George Samuel Evens lived here over his shop with his wife and six of their children, and a general servant. His eldest son aged 15 was an assistant tailor. Evens died at the age of 54 on 4 October 1856 and a week later his widow announced that she would be carrying on the business.

The living quarters upstairs were unoccupied in 1901, but in 1911 the widow Harriett Emily Jones (69) lived over this shop with her daughter.

Former No. 114

At the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford, No. 114 was occupied by a Mr Mayow.

The grocer & tea dealer Thomas Medwin had this shop until 1842, but at the time of the 1841 census he lived over another of his shops on the Banbury Road in Summertown.

At the time of the 1851 census, auctioneer and valuer Charles A. Green lived in the house that used to stand on this site with his wife and daughter and a general servant: he is described as employing six men and one apprentice. An annuitant, Dorothy Elder, and her spinster daughter also lived in the same building.

In 1861 Henry Wood, who was described a teacher of drawing, lived upstairs over this shop with his wife Catherine and their seven children. In 1871 Henry was described as a teacher of dancing, and is thereafter described thus in directories.

In 1901 Eli Buckingham (68), the umbrella maker who had the shop here, lived upstairs with his wife Adelaide and their 14-year-old housemaid. He and his wife still occupied the six rooms over the shop in 1911.

Present shops

No. 113

This reopened as Hookham & Co's tailor's shop in 1932. In about 1954 Shepherd & Woodward, who had been next door since the 1920s, expanded into this shop.

No. 114

This also became a tailor's shop in 1941.

In October 2019 Lincoln College obtained planning permission to change the first floor of these shops at No. 113 & 114, along with that of No. 115 next door, from retail to office use: 19/02284/LBC

Occupiers of 113 & 114 High Street
 Darker background = former building on this site


No. 113

No. 114


Anthony Ortelli
Looking-glass & Barometer maker,
Artificial Flower & Feather
Manufacturer, and Silversmith

Thomas Medwin
Grocer & Tea Dealer (died 1842)

By 1851–1853+

Samuel Evens
Tailor & robe maker (1852)


James Evens
Tailor & hosier (1866)


George Samuel Evens
Tailor & robe maker (1876–1932)

Charles A. Green
Auctioneer & appraiser


Mrs C. Wood
Fancy repository

Henry Thomas Wood, Professor of dancing


William John Richards,
Wine & spirit merchant


Eli Buckingham
Umbrella & sunshade manufacturer



Edward Richard Greening
Antique furniture dealer


Hookham & Co.
Tailors & outfitters

Thomas Pritchard
Fancy goods dealer (later Ironmonger)


Foster & Co.
Tailors, hosiers & robe makers


Hector Powe Ltd


Part of Shepherd & Woodward
at 119–112 to the east


Part of Shepherd & Woodward

By 1998–2011

Kaliko Ladies’ fashion


Gerry Weber


Space NK Apothecary

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 October, 2021

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