Headington history: Pubs and beerhouses

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Former pubs of Headington, now closed or demolished

The Bell, 72 Old High Street, Old Headington
Closed in 2000; demolished and replaced by house

The Bell

The Old Bell was originally a beerhouse that occupied the seventeenth-century stables adjacent to the later pub. In 1930 the New Bell was built to resemble a country cottage with black ship’s timbers, and the postcard above shows it when it was new.

In March 1874 Alfred Marlow, a gardener by trade, was landlord of the Bell; he died the following month.

In the 1990s a private house was built on the site of the old stables/beerhouse. The pub itself closed in 2000, and was demolished in May 2002 and replaced by another private house.

The Cavalier, 148–150 Copse Lane
Closed in 2010; demolished, and replaced by student housing


This pub was built in 1956 to serve the Northway estate and was the first pub opened in the city since the Second World War. It was named the Cavalier because of the Civil War associations of the nearby area.

It was opened by the Mayor of Oxford Wilfred John Allaway, who was himself the landlord of the University & City Arms pub, and the Town Clerk Harry Plowman (after whom Plowman's Tower is named) was present at the ceremony with other officials.

It closed in 2008 when the landlord Brian Minns declared himself bankrupt, and Punch Taverns tried but failed to find a new tenant. It was demolished in April 2012 and replaced by “58 ensuite student rooms with shared facilities and warden’s room on three floors” (planning application by I & O Limited: 11/01681/FUL).

Crown & Thistle

Crown & Thistle, Old Road
Closed in 2010 after Green King said it was unviable

See its full history

The Fairview Inn, 16 Glebelands
Closed 2013

The Fairview Inn

The Fairview Inn was built by the Reading-based brewers H. & G. Simonds and was opened in September 1959. It was listed on the CAMRA national inventory of historic pub interiors as having “wonderful” full-height wall panelling.

The “fair view” is over Southfield Golf Course, which opened in 1920.

Enterprise Inns decided to sell the Fairview Inn in early 2013, and Fleurets put it up for sale with “alternative use potential”. A community group managed to get it designated by Oxford City Council as a community asset on 16 June 2013, but failed to raise the £385,000 needed to purchase it, and it was sold to unknown buyers. The landlords Glyn & Gina Millard, who had run the pub for 29 years, then decided to retire in December 2013. The pub underwent refurbishments in 2014, and its panelled interior is understood to have been removed. Enterprise Inn spokeswoman Amy Dolphin told the Oxford Mail that it would remain a pub, but in August 2016 planning application 16/02112/FUL was submitted to convert it into a five-bedroomed house, and this was approved in November 2016.

Crown & Thistle

The Fox, Barton

Three different pubs, one in Barton Village Road and two on North Way

The third and last one closed in 2002

See its full history

Golden Ball, situation unknown

An advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 7 August 1762 advertises the Golden Ball in Headington to let, with enquiries to be directed to George Smith, carpenter or Farmer Phillips.

Hare & Hounds, London Road

This pub is listed in the 1841 census on the London Road, at an unknown point that could have been anywhere between Headington Hill and Sandhills. It was then occupied by the mason James Soanes, his wife Mary, his children John (20), Martha (15), and Edwin (15), and four other people. It was probably near Windmill Road, as in 1851 Soanes is listed as living “near the Turnpike”.

New Inn sign

New Inn, Headington Quarry
282 (formerly 162) London Road
Closed c.1930

This was in the Quarry section of London Road, just past the Workhouse and before Green Road. It was built with an adjoining row of nine cottages in about 1859.

It had the following landlords:

  • 1861: Thomas Snow
  • 1869–1877: Henry Quarterman
  • 1881: Philip Durham
  • 1885–1921: Daniel Stevens (whose wife Mrs Jane Stevens poisoned herself with carbolic acid here: see Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 6 May 1899).
  • 1922–1931: John Henry Stevens.

On 19 May 1866 its forthcoming auction (together with two adjoining houses) was advertised thus in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

A road-side FREE PUBLIC HOUSE, known as the “NEW INN”, together with
9 COTTAGES and large Gardens, all adjoining,
And fronting the Turnpike Road at HEADINGTON, about midway between Oxford and WHEATLEY, and several other populous villages….

Lot 1.—All that FREEHOLD PUBLIC HOUSE, known as the New Inn, comprising tap room, parlour, and kitchen, on the ground floor, four large bed rooms over the same, capital cellar in the basement, stabling for five horses and chaff room, with capital large hay loft, together with wash-house, piggeries, yard, and large garden attached; also Two COTTAGES on the west side thereof, each having a wash-house, piggery, and large garden, pump and well of excellent water, and other convenIeNces, the whole occUpying a site of between 20 and 30 pOles of ground, and fronting the turnpike road midway between Oxford and Wheatley.

Lot 2.—Seven capital COTTAGES, on the south-east side of and adjoiing Lot 1, each having a wash-house, piggery, and about nine poples of garden ground, well of excellent water, and other conveniences, occupied by Messrs Elkerton, Bannister, and others, and producing an aggregate rental of £34 9s. per annum.

N.B. The whole of the foregoing Property is Freehold, Tithe-free, and Land Tax redeemed, and has been most substially built within the last seven years of the best Headington free-stone range work, with blue slate, sash windows, and all other materials of the best quality. The public-ouse stands remarkably well for business, and is at the present time doing a very good trade; this Property may be fairly considered as first class of its kind.

On 7 September 1867 it was reported that the magistrates were unable to see the necessity for spirits to be served at this beer house, and its application was refused.

The old pub became a shop with tea rooms attached in the early 1930s.

The Plough, The Croft, Old Headington
Closed by the late nineteenth century; probably survives as a house in the Croft

This pub, which was copyhold under the Manor of Headington, was auctioned on 4 May 1843, and was described thus: “All that front DWELLING HOUSE, known as the sign of The Plough; containing a front tap room and parlour, back ditto, with large workshop over, kitchen, yard, stable, with loft over, pump of good water, with detached entrance to the same, dining room, two bed chambers, cellaring, &c. now in the occupation of Mr. Taman jun. A front DWELLING HOUSE adjoining; consisting of a good shop, kitchen, dining room, and three bed chambers, cellaring, & c. now in the occupation of Mr. Teal. These two Houses are let on a short lease at £40 per annum. Also a front TENEMENT adjoining, with parlour, kitchen, and two bed chambers, &c. at present unoccupied.

The Plough was evidently in the Croft, as the 1862 census lists George Taylor (aged 36 and described as a “Carpenter & Joiner & Beer Retailer”) living here with his wife Sarah and children George, Clara, Harry, Frederick, and a newborn daughter.

On 10 April 1869 Richard Tempero, landlord of the Plough beerhouse, Headington, was charged with committing a breach of the Beer Act on 26 March.

Prince’s Castle, 9 Barton Village Road
Closed in the 1980s; now a private house

Prince's Castle

The Princes Castle


Above: a group outside the Prince's Castle in c.1905

Left: The Prince’s Castle in the 1950s.


A blacksmith’s and stables were built next door to Barton Manor in the seventeenth century, and the building was nicknamed “The Castle”.

The building was already being used as a beerhouse in 1869, when the landlord was the market gardener James Lock.

The stables were pulled down In the late nineteenth century, and Hall’s Brewery built the Prince’s Castle pub on the site.


The Quarry Gate, 19 Wharton Road
Closed in 2011, demolished April 2015

Quarry gate pub

This pub was opened in 1937 to serve the new estate that had been built on the fields that separated the two villages of New Headington and Quarry. It was named after the gate crossing the footpath through the former allotments.

In the early 1990s half of its garden was sold for housing.

The pub was put up for sale for £899,000 in January 2011, but took a long time to sell, with its price latterly reduced from £899,000 to £775.000.

It was eventually bought by Seville Developments for £600,000 in mid-2013. Internal work on the building started in January 2014, and for a year they used it as their offices, before moving to the Watlington Road.

The pub was demolished in April 2015, and a planning application to build three five-bedroomed houses on the site was turned down:

A second planning application submitted in June 2016 for “Erection of three storey building to provide 1 x 1-bed, 3 x 2-bed and 2 x 3-bed flats (Use Class C3). Provision of car parking and bin and cycle storage” was also refused, and an appeal against this decision was dismissed on 21 June 2017:

A third (outline) planning application was submitted on 14 August 2017 for “Outline application (seeking approval of access, layout and scale) for the erection of 1 x 3-bed dwelling and 2 x 4-bed dwellings”, and this was approved on 13 October 2017:


Rose & Crown, The Croft
Closed by the late nineteenth century; site unknown, but probably survives as a house in the Croft

The part of the Croft leading from Osler Road to Old High Street is described in the Headington Enclosure Award of 1804 as passing “near the Public House called the Rose and Crown”.

This is presumably the pub described as The Crown, Headington when an auction was held here in 1811: it was then occupied by a Mr Bryant. In 1819 auctions are described as being held at both The Crown and the Rose & Crown; and in 1824 there is an auction at the Crown.

In 1826 the occupants of four cottages opposite the Crown were Samuel Berry, Alexander Teague, Mrs Stanton, and Thomas Jeffs.

Shotover Arms, 298 London Road
Closed c.1995; now McDonald’s

This pub, along with an adjoining filling station, opened to the east of Green Road in 1931. It is a large Tudoresque-style building designed by Ernest Kibble. It closed in about 1953 and was converted into the Shotover Arms Hotel in 1957 when the eastern bypass was built. In 1967 it became a pub again and was still open in 1993; but by 1996 it had been taken over by McDonalds.

The Swan (formerly the Spotted Pig), 8 The Croft, Old Headington
Closed in the 1920s; now a private house

This is one of the listed buildings of Headington and more information can be found here.

Waterman Beerhouse, The Croft, Old Headington
Closed by the late nineteenth century; site unknown, but probably survives as a house in the Croft

This is listed in the Headington Rate-Book for 1850 as being owned by Henry Hedges and occupied by Adam Beesley. It had a gross estimated rental of £12 and a rateable value of £9 a year. It was evidently in the Croft in Old Headington, as the 1851 census shows Adam Beesley, a 38-year-old boatman, living in the Croft with his wife Caroline and daughter Emma.

Below: Advertisement from Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 25 August 1860 offering the original Fox pub at Barton for sale:

Fox for sale in 1860

© Stephanie Jenkins

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