Headington history: Pubs and beerhouses

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The White Horse

Former White Horse Inn

The present White Horse at 1 London Road dates from the 1930s, but the original pub was built before 1841. The pub stands just to the east of the Boundary Brook, which until 1929 separated Oxford and Headington. The above picture below shows the old pub in about 1916, with the landlord Joseph Skey and his wife and son outside; the picture below shows the present pub.

White Horse

At the time of the 1841 census Henry Stanley, described as a victualler, lived at the White Horse with his wife Sarah. Henry is still listed as a beer retailer in the Post Office Directory of 1847, but must have died by 1850, because the Headington Rent Book of that year lists Elizabeth Stanley as the tenant of the White Horse (the first time the name appears in print).

It was then owned by Henry Purdue, and its gross estimated rental was £12 and its rateable value £8 10s. The 1851 census shows Mrs Stanley (56) living at the pub with her widowed sister Mary Pimm and a 15-year-old servant boy.

The sign of the White Horse

By 1861 the landlord was Daniel White, who is described as a victualler at the White Horse. Aged 31, he lived there with his wife Jane, his one-year-old daughter, two servants, and a lodger. At the time of the 1871 census he had two more daughters. He is last listed in directories in 1877.


The 1881 census shows Mrs Elizabeth Harris (a widow aged 33) running the White Horse. She ran it on her own for 18 years, which implies that the business was fairly quiet: this is corroborated by the fact that the occupation of the next landlord (John William Thomas) is given in the 1901 census as “printer (compositor)”: presumably his wife Clara helped to look after the pub. By 1911 the pub was run by William & Clara Wheeler.

Between 1915 and 1917 the landlord was Joseph Robert Skey (son of John Skey, who had been the central Headington toll-house keeper in 1851). Joseph had been running a shop in New High Street, and after his short period as landlord went back to shopkeeping in Windmill Road.

Horace Thomas was landlord when the old inn was demolished and the new one built in about 1930. Joseph Gartside, describing the inn at that time, wrote:

London Road starts by the White Horse. Owned by Morrells, it had a lovely lawn where the car-park is now, and at the back of the lawn was an open pavilion where we could sit and have a drink and watch the children play on the lawn. Behind the pavilion was a lovely garden.

At this time the Boundary Brook ran openly past the pub and then under the London Road, but it is now culverted here.

Some landlords of the White Horse

By 1841–after 1851

Henry Stanley (Elizabeth Stanley from c.1850)


Daniel White


Elizabeth Harris


John William Thomas


William Wheeler


Joseph Robert Skey


Horace Thomas


Percy Buckle

© Stephanie Jenkins

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