Headington history: Shops

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Mount Pleasant, 74–76 London Road

Mount Pleasant

The low building on the left of the Mount Pleasant group (which adjoins the Royal Standard pub) was probably the first shop to open on the London Road, and operated as a shop from at least 1854 to the late 1970s. The larger section on the right was originally a pair of semi-detached houses, later converted into one large house.

The land on which Mount Pleasant stands was the north-eastern section of the eight-acre Britannia Field, which was allocated (as Plot 26) to William Mott, the landlord of the Britannia, under the Headington Enclosure Award of 1805. The Britannia Field was inherited by his son Thomas Mott, who died in early 1830.Six years after his death his Trustees put this portion of land to the east of the Britannia up for sale, and it was advertised thus in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 22 October 1836:

Mount Pleasant land for sale

It seems likely that Mount Pleasant was built shortly after this date, while the Royal Standard to the east, on land under different ownership, was built as part of New Headington village in the early 1850s.

The 1861 census shows Samuel Levi Adams, a butcher aged 41, living over his shop on the east side of Mount Pleasant with his wife and seven children: he moved from Summertown to Headington in 1856/7, apparently to set up his own business. The west side of Mount Pleasant was a single private house in 1861, occupied by John Ward, a brickmaker from Quainton, with his wife, five children, and a lodger. (His daughter Lettice was to become the mother of G. H. Williams who founded the cycle shop.)

By the time of the 1871 censuses, the shop to the east of Mount Pleasant had become a bootmaker’s, run by Vincent Gurden, who lived there with his wife Eliza; while Joseph Young, a labourer, with this wife, six children, and a lodger lived next door.

It is first named as Mount Pleasant in a directory of 1875. The grocer Joseph Lovatt had the shop, and a gardener called Robert Gardner lived in the adjoining house.

The 1881 census shows the grocer Joseph Lovatt (aged 63) from Staffordshire and his Devonshire wife living over the shop, while the adjoining house was occupied by John E. Swithinbank of Leeds (a student of the University of Oxford aged 30), his wife, baby daughter, and a 13-year-old servant girl.

By the time of the 1891 census, members of the Lovatt family had also taken over the private house to the right: John Lovatt, the carpenter aged 38 born in Staffordshire who is living there is probably the son of Joseph, aged 74, who lived over the shop on the left.

By the time of the 1911 census, the Lovatts ceased to live over their shop, and Henry Tolley (36), a general builder’s labourer, was living at 1 Mount Pleasant with his wife Gertrude (34) and their six children. The other two households living at Mount Pleasant were described as lodgers: Benjamin Gardner (57), a general labourer, with his wife Edith (48) and their four children; and a widow of private means, Annie Maria Jones (62).

By 1915, the Currill family was living at Mount Pleasant.

The Lovatt family, however, continued to be listed at Mount Pleasant in directories until 1935, and then just at the house on the right until the mid-1960s. They probably owned the building, but only used the downstairs shop in the earlier period.

In the 1920s the Mount Pleasant was numbered 10 & 12 London Road, but the growth of central Headington around this time meant that the whole road had to be renumbered, and in 1934 Mount Pleasant is first listed in Kelly’s Directory with its present numbering (74 and 76 London Road).

John Lovatt junior was a boot repairer at the shop from the 1920s, while Francis Lovatt occupied the private house on the right from 1932 to 1962. John appears to have moved in with Francis in the house on the right in the mid-1930s, and a Mrs S. A. Brownsill opened a short-lived draper’s shop at No. 76 on the left.

By 1941, the shop had been taken over by Mrs Mary T. Chaundy as a confectioner’s, while. John Lovatt was operating as a boot repairer at 76A (presumably upstairs). By 1949, Mrs Chaundy had also taken over 76A for selling toys. She continued as a confectioner and toy dealer at Mount Pleasant until her death in 1963, and during this period it was home to one of Headington’s dolls’ hospital: photograph.

Her husband, John Reginald Chaundy, kept the shop on until the late 1970s as just a confectioner’s, although he himself worked at a typewriter shop at the Plain.

In the early 1980s both the shop and the private house on the right were bought by the Papamichaels, who run Mount Pleasant as a hotel.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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