Oxford History: The High


130: Souvenir shop

130 High Street

No. 130 has one of the oldest fronts in the High, dating from the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. The extra floor in behind was added in the seventeenth century and has since been altered.

The building was condemned in 1929, but the front was preserved and a new building made at the back; the latter, however, was damaged by fire within a few months.

This is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1369390). 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.

In 1697 the property was left to the City of Oxford for the benefit of poor widows, and on 1 July 1927 its freehold was acquired by Oxford City Council from the Trustees of the Municipal Charities of the City of Oxford. It is still in the ownership of the council.

Below: No. 130 can be seen looking much as it does today on the right of the drawing below as it was in 1834, when it was Carter’s Fish shop. There is a passage on the left-hand side of the shop leading to Kemp Hall behind, and this was formerly known as Carter’s Passage.

126-130 High Street

No. 130 was owned from about 1600 by William Boswell, a mercer who became Mayor in 1622 and an Alderman in 1627. In 1637 Boswell built a fine new house for himself (Kemp Hall) in the long narrow back garden of No. 130, but died the next year, leaving both shop and house to his son, Dr William Boswell, DCL. When the latter died in 1678 it passed to his nephew, a third William Boswell, who in 1689 sold No. 130 to Thomas Reeve, tobacco pipe maker. He in turn left it to the City in 1697 for the benefit of poor widows.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. No. 130 was then in the occupation of a Mr Cosier, and its frontage measured 8 yards 2 feet 10 inches.

The Carter family (pre-1821 to 1920)

The Carter family had a fish shop here for many years. William Carter, who was a fishmonger and brushmaker here, died in 1821, and on 28 April his widow Mrs Kate Carter announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal, that she would be carrying on the business with the help of her son, and that they had a regular supply of fish daily from London and Southampton, and that they supplied country shopkeepers with brushes. Then on 9 December 1826 Mrs Carter announced in the paper that because of the ill state of her health (she died just over a fortnight later), she had declined the business in favour of her sons John Carter and Thomas Carter.

At the time of the 1841 census John Carter and his wife Lydia lived over the shop with their sons John junior and Charles and their daughters Lydia, Catherine, and Sarah. John & Lydia were still there in 1851 with their sons John, who was now working as a fishmonger with his father, and Charles, who was a college servant, and their daughters, Lydia, Lucy, and Emily. The premises still belonged to Reeves’ Charity, and was then let out at a rack rental of £60.

John Carter died in 1855 and the 1861 census shows his widow Mrs Lydia Carter was running the fish shop. She was still there in 1871 and 1881 with her two unmarried daughters Lydia and Emily, who from 1872 ran the shop themselves. Mrs Carter's daughter Lydia died at the age of 59 in 1883, and she herself died at 130 High Street at the age of 88 in 1891.

In 1898 Messrs Carter's fish shop here was one of the few businesses in the city to have a telephone number: Oxford 47.

In 1901 Miss Emily Carter (53), described as a fishmonger's assistant and presumably employed by her sister Lydia, was living over the shop with a general servant.

At the time of the 1911 census Richard Goldney (64), described as a fishmonger's manager, lived in the seven rooms over No. 130 with his wife and two children.

The Carter business, which latterly also sold game, closed down in 1929.

The tobacconist from next door moved in when the fish shop closed, and it remained a tobacconist's shop until 1992.

It continued to be a retail shop until the Westgate Centre opened in 2017. It is temporarily a souvenir shop.

Occupiers of 130 High Street

Before 1821
 to 1929

William Carter, Fishmonger & brushmaker (died 1821) and then his wife Kate (died 1826)
John Carter (died 1855) and then his widow Lydia Carter to 1867
George Carter from 1869 to 1871
Miss Lydia Carter from 1872 to 1929


Evans & Evans, Tobacconist

Fribourg & Treyer, Cigar importers & cigarette manufacturers

Various businesses upstairs, including Studio Edmark from 1956


North of England Building Society/Central Business Agency & Central Estates

Fribourg & Treyer, Cigar importers and tobacconists

Upstairs: Studio Edmark, Photographers and dental surgery


Ward's Tobacconists

By 1996–2003

Oxford Campus Stores


White Stuff [moved to Westgate Centre]




Souvenir shop

Upstairs: Mind & Body psychotherapy practice

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 4 June, 2021

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