Headington history: Shops

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Rosslyn Villa (now 4–6 The Parade), Windmill Road

Rosslyn Villa was built near the top of Windmill Road in the 1880s, and its first occupant (listed in Valter’s Directory for 1889) was John Durran, a prosperous retired ironmonger with a shop in Oxford’s High Street. Its large garden used to stretch southwards over the site of a group of shops (Nos. 9A, 9, and 11), while on the north side its garage stood on the site of what is now numbered 4 The Parade.

The Parade is six shops wedged running down from Nos 1 & 3 Windmill Road to the north (originally part of the Co-op on the corner, and then for many years a baker's shop, at first A. Butler & Co, latterly the Queen of Hearts, then the Oxford Fine Food Store, and now KFC) down to the private house at 9 Windmill Road (now Il Botanico). Nos. 1–4 The Parade are single-storey shops with flat roofs built in 1935, and Nos. 5 & 6 are the former ground floor of Rosslyn Villa (formerly 7 Windmill Road), whose bay-windowed frontage was flattened to match its new neighbours.

Rosslyn VillaThis photograph, taken on 25 September 2019, shows Rosslyn Villa converted at ground level
into two shops, and the three shops in a flat-roofed building that was erected in the space
to the north formerly occupied by its garage and garden

The front door and staircase of Rosslyn Villa and the dentist’s surgery upstairs are very much as they were in the 1880s. The postcard below shows Rosslyn Villa in about 1912. It was still a handsome house, although Nos. 9 and 11 Windmill Road to the south had already been built in its garden to the south. Further south again are Nos. 13 to 23 Windmill Road, built in the 1880s and its original next-door neighbours.

Rosslyn Villa in 1912

At the time of the 1891 census, Rosslyn Villa was occupied by the retired ironmonger John Durran (57) and his wife Martha (65), both of whom originated in Warwickshire. His sister Elizabeth Durran and his cousin Elizabeth Law also lived with them, but rather surprisingly for such a large house, they had no servants.

Ten years later the composition of the household was exactly the same, except that John Durran was then described as a market gardener, working on his own account from home. Within six years of the 1901 census, all three Durrans had died, and were buried in Headington Cemetery: Miss Elizabeth Durran (65) on 13 July 1903; Mrs Martha Durran (78) on 18 December 1903; and John Durran (76) on 14 February 1907.

Albert Griffin is listed at Rosslyn Villa in Kelly’s Directory for 1909, and presumably sold some of his garden for the development of Nos. 9 and 11 next door shortly afterwards. At the time of the 1911 census Albert (52), described as a domestic gardener, was living at Rosslyn Villa with his wife Edith (50) and his three sons: Reginald Ernest (23) was a village carrier; Sydney Percy (20) was a jeweller’s assistant; and Leonard (10) was at school.

Griffin was still living at the house in 1933, when it was numbered 7 Windmill Road. He died at the age of 77 in the London Road Hospital, and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 29 September 1934. He was described as a gardener at the time of his death.

In 1935 the first two shops in The Parade were occupied by A. Butler & Co, bakers, and the Headington Novel Library, but there was no listing for Nos. 3 & 4 The Parade, which were presumably still being built, nor for Rosslyn Villa, whose ground floor would be in the process of conversion to 5 & 6 The Parade.

In 1936 Rosslyn Villa was listed as part of “The Parade”, with a chemist in No. 4 on the site of its garage, a butcher in No. 5, and a cooked meats shop at No. 6. It has remained a row of shops ever since, and by 1947 a dentist had opened his practice upstairs.

Brief history of this group of buildings

4 The Parade

Occupant of the site of Rosslyn Villa’s garage


E. J. Francis, chemist

By 1941–1968

Boots the Chemist (Photograph from 1957)


Lander Wilson, carpet retailer


SparPlas Windows

Up to 1992

Zenith Windows


Good Returns (catalogue return shop)


Storm ladies’ clothing


Frog Orange


5 The Parade

Occupant of the left side of Rosslyn Villa


J. H. Dewhurst Ltd, butcher (Photograph from 1957)


Model Masters

Later 1990s

Goodies Secondhand furniture


Focus Electronics


Electric Aids


Sandra Homewood Funerals


6 The Parade

Occupant of the right side of Rosslyn Villa


E. W. Liley, cooked meats


Sanders Bros. (Stores) Ltd, grocers


William Poulter Ltd, outfitters


Mrs Elsie I. Wenborn, footwear specialist (Photograph from 1957)
(Mrs Wenborn celebrated her 100th birthday in October 2012)


Baileys, shoe dealers


Reid Office Equipment


Thameside Copiers


Electrical Appliance Centre


Asian grocer


Thong Heng Chinese supermarket

Rosslyn Villa, 1990s
5 & 6 The Parade, Windmill Road in c.2000

Poulter's advertisement
Advertisement for Poulter’s outfitters in The Windmill (the magazine of
Headington County Primary School in Windmill Road), Summer 1953  

© Stephanie Jenkins

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