24-26 Cornmarket Street. Image courtesy of Chuca Cimas.

Visiting Oxford > What to See > Historical Places

24-26 Cornmarket Street, Oxford

24-26 Cornmarket Street, in Oxford, is a timber-framed building built in the late 14th century. It belonged to a wine merchant who ran it as an inn, the “New Inn”. What remains is about half of it, as the “complete” one would have had a central courtyard. The building is mostly original, although parts of it were from a restoration funded by Jesus College in the 1980s.

The building at 24-26 Cornmarket Street is a living testament to Oxford’s rich history. Its facade, adorned with characteristic Oxford limestone, weaves seamlessly into the architectural tapestry of the city. Standing on this street, one can almost feel the echoes of centuries past, as the structure has weathered the passage of time since its inception.

24-26 Cornmarket Street’s architecture is typical of 14th century Britain. For example, each floor is gradually wider than the one below – a way to maximise floor space without having to buy more land. Medieval buildings had such big overhangs that, in some cases, two households on either side of a narrow street could shake hands out of the window.

Retail Legacy and Architectural Allure

Over the years, 24-26 Cornmarket has played a role in the dynamic commerce of Oxford. Retail establishments that have called this address home have contributed to the vibrant tapestry of the city’s shopping scene. The changing facades of the building reflect the evolving tastes and trends of Oxford’s residents and visitors.

The architectural design of 24-26 Cornmarket Street encapsulates the essence of Oxford’s traditional charm. Whether you’re captivated by the ornate detailing on the upper stories or the inviting storefronts that beckon shoppers, the building stands as a harmonious blend of heritage and functionality.

24-26 Cornmarket Through the Years

In the year 1841:

  • Residing at No. 26 was Robert Wharton (30), a fruiterer, who shared his living space above the shop with his brother Frederick Wharton (25), an assistant fruiterer. Their household included one female servant.
  • At No. 27, Robert Couling (45), a tailor, made his home above his shop along with Elizabeth (40), Charlotte (20), Harriet (12), and Elizabeth (10).

In the year 1851:

  • At No. 26, Robert Wharton (47), a fruiterer, and his unmarried brother Frederick (37), an assistant fruiterer, continued to reside above their shop. They were joined by a female servant.
  • At No. 27, Robert Couling (55), a tailor, continued to inhabit the space above his shop. His wife Elizabeth (53), referred to as a shopkeeper, and their daughters Elizabeth (20) and Harriet (22), described as a mantua maker and dressmaker, respectively, formed part of the household.

In the year 1861:

  • No. 26 saw Frederick Wharton (45), still unmarried and identified as the brother of the head of the household and a fruiterer’s shopman, residing above the shop with their 58-year-old widow housekeeper.
  • At No. 27, Robert Couling (65) continued to live above his shop with his wife Elizabeth (64) and his nephew Henry Faulkner (17), denoted as a tailor’s assistant.

In the year 1871:

  • No listings for Nos. 26 & 27.

In the year 1881:

  • No. 26 witnessed Maryanne Wharton (49), described as a widow and a fruiterer, living with her son Robert (19) and a general servant.
  • No. 27 was listed as uninhabited. Joel Zacharias (29), who had a shop here, was residing with his parents at 1A Cornmarket.

In the year 1891:

  • Joel Zacharias (39), a waterproof manufacturer and glass & china dealer, had taken over both shops (Nos. 26 & 27) and lived upstairs with his wife Rebecca (27) and their children George (7) and Arthur (five months). They had a 16-year-old servant girl.

In the year 1901:

  • Joel Zacharias (49), a waterproof manufacturer, continued to live above his shop at Nos. 26 & 27 with his wife Rebecca (39) and their sons George (17), Arthur (10), and Victor (5). They had one servant.

In the year 1911:

  • No listings available for Nos. 26 & 27.

Where is 24-26 Cornmarket Street?

Situated in the heart of Oxford, 24-26 Cornmarket Street is not merely a destination but a starting point for exploration. The proximity to iconic colleges, museums, and the city’s academic and literary legacy makes it an ideal launchpad for those eager to immerse themselves in the unique ambiance of Oxford.

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