No. 56: Oxfam Bookshop

55/56 St Giles

At the time of the 1772 survey, the street to the south of this building (now Pusey Street, but originally Alfred Street) did not exist, and the premises of No. 56 (the house and timber yard of Mr Howell) extended southwards to No. 57.

No. 56 is today a large corner building facing on to Pusey Street as well as St Giles. It was built around 1800, and is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1369440). It lies in St Giles' parish, and is now owned by Regent’s Park College.

This was a grocer’s shop for many years. George Fox Bridges is listed as a grocer in St Giles as early as 1830, and he was probably already in this shop. He was certainly here at the time of the 1851 census, when he is living upstairs with his brother John (a portrait painter), his unmarried sister Mary, and Ann, who had married the Revd Arrowsmith. They had one servant. By 1861 Bridges had moved to 43 St Giles’.

By the time of the 1861 census, John Nalder (42), who was born in Duckington, had taken over the business from George Fox Bridges and lived over the shop with his wife Elizabeth (44) and a shopman, an apprentice, and a servant. The situation was similar at the time of the 1871 census.

Mary Nalder


Right: Portrait of Mary Nalder, probably painted by John Bridges (George Fox Bridge’s brother)

Aquarelle nr. 16  name “Mary Nalder”, no signature on the front. Size: 12  x 14 cm



In 1881 Alfred Louch was the grocer here, employing three men and one boy. He and his wife and two daughters lived over the shop with their two servants.

The photograph below (reproduced from a F. Frith & Co postcard) shows the shop in about 1930, when it was W. H. Chandler's grocer's shop and there was a private hotel upstairs

No. 56 in late 1920s

In 1987 the shop was opened by John Mortimer as the first of Oxfam’s 76 specialist charity bookshops. In 2004 it was reported as selling up to 2,000 books a week and making a profit of about £200,000 a year. It pays full rent for the shop to Regent’s Park College, but all the stock is donated, and it is run by 75 volunteers and just one paid manager.

Occupants of 56 St Giles’ Street listed in censuses and directories





George Fox Bridges



John Nalder
Grocer & tea dealer


Alfred Louch
Grocer & tea dealer


Arthur Cook
Grocer & tea dealer

Mrs A. Cook from 1896


William Henry Chandler (1925–1930)
Charles E. Chandler (1932–1945)

St Giles
Private Hotel

Mrs D. Bliss
(1932–late 1970s)

Rita & Peter Oxford
(from late 1970s)


R. Stanley Cleaver
Grocer, later Wine, spirit & beer merchant
(photograph of 1949)


Wimpy Bar

Late 1970s–1982



Oxfam Bookshop

College flats with No. 55

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

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