Headington history: Shops

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Grocer’s shop at 21 Windsor Street

21 Windsor Street

This house at 21 Windsor Street is older than it looks: it was built in 1852.

For at least 75 years it was a grocer’s shop serving the “Square” (the network of streets to the south of Bateman Street).

The 1876 Ordnance Survey map of Headington (below) shows 21 Windsor Street (marked with a red spot) backing on to 31 Bateman Street to the north, but the rest of the area between Bateman Street and Windsor Street is still undeveloped, and was likely to have been a market garden.

Map showing 21 Windsor Street in 1876


William Mead Warner (a speculator from Banbury who had bought land to the south of the London Road to create the whole of New Headington village) sold the plot for this house to a carpenter, William Wheeler, on 8 November 1851. Measuring 72 feet by 30 feet, it cost a mere £7 15s., and Wheeler took out a mortgage of £75 (to be repaid over seven years by 84 monthly payments of £1 2s. 11d.) to build a house. Wheeler had two other cottages in New Headington village, and he may have let this house out. He continued working as a carpenter until he died on 15 March 1872.

In April 1872 George Jacobs, a mason who lived in Silman’s Row (later known as Mattock’s Row, on the south side of Wilberforce Street) took out a mortgage for £85 to buy 21 Windsor Street, where he started a shop. Although George himself is listed as “Grocer &c.” in directories from 1875 to 1886, he continued his job as a stonemason, and it is evident that his wife, who is listed in the 1881 census as a shopkeeper, did most of the work, and in addition ran the New Headington soup kitchen from their house. She continued as shopkeeper after George’s death: the 1901 census still describes her as a grocer at the age of 73. She retired in 1904 at the age of 76.

Joseph Draper, who already had a grocer’s shop on the corner of Lime Walk and All Saints Road, bought the house from her for £180 in April 1904 and sold it at a profit just five months later for £190 to Stanley Dearlove, who became the new grocer there.

In July 1908 Dearlove sold 21 Windsor Street for the same price as he had bought it four years earlier to Thomas Arnold Soanes Taylor. For some reason the next year Taylor sold the house to Mrs Sarah Jane Carter, although he remained there as a tenant until about 1911. He is described in directories as a carpenter and shopkeeper: again, his wife probably actually did most of the work in the shop.

By the time of the 1911 census the tenants of 21 Windsor Street were John & Ada Vyles. John (32) was described as a domestic gardener, but his Yorkshire-born wife Ada (30), who must have run the shop, is not listed as having any occupation.

In February 1916 John Vyles bought the house off his landlady for £210. He died in 1925, but his wife Ada continued to run the shop until 1949, She then lived privately in the house until the late 1960s. It was sold for £1,350 in 1970.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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