Oxford History: The High


Alfred Street

Alfred Street

Alfred Street runs southwards from the High Street to Bear Lane, with the former National Westminster Bank to the east and 123 High Street to the west. It is probably the narrowest street in Oxford that is still open to traffic (hence the double-yellow lines). It lay in the parish of All Saints' Church.

Alfred Street was called Venella Sancti Edwardi in 1220, after St Edward’s Church (destroyed c.1500) that was on the west side of the lane.

In the sixteenth century it was known as Vine Hall Street after Vine Hall near the back of Christ Church, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was called Bear Lane after the Bear Inn that stood at 123 & 124 High Street.

Alfred Lodge

The Alfred Lodge of Freemasons originally met at the Maidenhead Tavern in Turl Street. On 26 November 1832 their new Masonic Hall was built here.

As the first example of the present name of Alfred Street dates from 1834, it seems likely that this street was named after this hall.



Right: Report in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 1 December 1832

On 21 May 1842, less than ten years after it was built, the Masonic Hall was put up for sale, with the following advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

Most desirable PREMISES, adjoining the High-street,
In the Centre of the CITY of OXFORD.

TO BE SOLD BY PRIVATE CONTRACT,—All those excellent and spacious FREEHOLD PREMISES, situate in Alfred-street High-street, known as the “Masonic Hall.” The building has been erected within a few years, regardless of expense, and is fitted with every convenience, and is well adapted for Auction Rooms, Public Exhibitions, and general business; or, at a trifling outlay, might be converted into a genteel Dwelling House.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 28 December, 2021

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