Oxford History: The High


118: Breckon & Breckon

118 High Street

The property on the site of this house and No. 117 to the east, and everything except the front shop at No. 119 to the west was known as Redcock's in 1419 when it was bought by Oxford City Council.

For details of the leaseholders of Nos. 118–119 High Street from 1580 to 1842, see H. E. Salter, Oxford City Properties (Oxford Historical Society, 1926), pp. 126–129.

No. 118 dates from the sixteenth century, but the front has been much altered, with only the two top windows surviving. It is a Grade II* listed building (List Entry No. 1047257). It was in the parish of All Saints until that church was deconsecrated in 1971. It is now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church.

According to H. E. Salter, at the time of the 1772 Survey of Oxford No. 118 was occupied by two households:  Mr Bridle (with a frontage of 3 yards and 2 o feet) and Mr Cook (with a frontage of 4 yards).

This was a chemist’s shop from at least 1833 to 1937.

At the time of the 1841 census the chemist Edward Rogers Kett lived here with his wife Sarah and their chldren Sarah (5), Edward (4), Mary (2), and Thomas Plowman Kett (five months), plus an apprentice and two female servants.

On 21 May 1842 the following advertisment relating to 118 High Street appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

TO be SOLD or LET, with possession at Michaelmas next,—All those convenient and well-situated PREMISES, in the centre of the High-street, Oxford, now in the possession of Mr. E. R. Kett, chemist and druggist; consisting of a double-fronted shop, excellent dwelling house, garden, extensive warehouses, and every convenience for carrying on any business requiring a good locality and extensive out-buildings.

Kett appears to have remained in these premises until at least 1846.

In 1851 the chemist was Francis W. Edwards, and he lived over the shop with his wife, two daughters, and two servants.

Henry C. Upjohn, another chemist, was listed here with his family in the 1861 census, and he was still here in 1881.

George Claridge Druce

From 1879 the well-known botanist George Claridge Druce (1850–1932) had his chemist shop here.

Druce advert

At the time of the 1881 census Druce was living here over his shop with his 17-year-old assistant. He was one of the first people in Oxford to have a telephone line put in, and in 1899 he had the simple number “Oxford 12”.

In 1891 Druce and his mother and their servant and three assistant chemists were living over this shop.

Druce served on Oxford City Council from 1892, and in 1900 he was Mayor of Oxford.

He and his shop play a small role in Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson (1911), patching up the Duke of Dorsetshire when he trips and injures himself when running away from Zuleika.

Another chemist, Clement James Bellamy, occupied the shop at No. 118 from 1908 to 1920. In 1901 Tom L. Dudgeon (26), the chemist & manager he put in, was living here with a chemist's shopman and their housekeeper, but by the time of the 1911 census Bellamy himself (30) and his wife Maud and his assistant lived in the seven rooms over the shop. From 1921 to 1937 (five years after Druce's death) the shop was listed as Druce & Co.

South Midland Motor Services advertisement

From 1939

From 1939 to 1968 South Midland Motor Services (right) were based here at No. 118.

Photograph of the shop in 1949


In 1970 A-Plan Insurance combined this shop with No. 117 to the east, and the two shops remained attached until 1993.


From 2000 to 2006 this was a computer shop. In November 2004 the shop front was destroyed in an accident.

Occupiers of 118 High Street

Before 1833

Thomas Sadler (died aged 43 on 31 May 1831)
Mrs Jane Sadler (to 1833)


Edward Rogers Kett, Chemist & druggist

1852, 1853

Francis William Edwards, Chemist & druggist


Henry Charles Upjohn, Chemist


E. Burbridge, Chemist


George Claridge Druce, MA, FLS
Pharmaceutical chemist


Clement Bellamy, Pharmaceutical chemist (1908–1920)
Bellamy then reverted to the name Druce & Co., Chemists (1921–1937)
(with Frederick G. Mullins, Tailor (presumably upstairs) from 1934 to 1936


South Midland Motor Services Ltd, Motor coach proprietors


A-Plan Protection Ltd, Insurance brokers (jointly with No. 117)


Mices.com, Computers


Breckon & Breckon

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 10 June, 2021

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