A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4, the City of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1979.
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SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Sport, p. 425. Theatre, p. 430. Music, p. 432. Circuses, p. 433. Cinemas, p. 433. Societies, p. 434. Inns, Alehouses, and Taverns, p. 436. Coffee-Houses, p. 439. Libraries, Museums, and Galleries, p. 440. Newspapers, p. 440.
A proposal to hold a joust and tilting near the city at Michaelmas 1305 was forbidden by the Chancellor as disturbing to the quiet of scholars. (fn. 1) By the middle of the 15th century ball-games, although restricted by medieval legislation as inimical to archery, (fn. 2) were well established. In 1450 a skinner and glover took an oath not to play tennis within the city (fn. 3) and in 1497 a parishioner of St. Mary Magdalen was presented for using his house for tennis and other illegal games. (fn. 4) The statutes against games were not strictly enforced in Oxford and fines for keeping 'tennis plays' and bowling alleys were trifling. (fn. 5) In 1530 the mayor accused the vice-chancellor of giving back to students confiscated tables, cards, dice, and bowls, and the vice-chancellor rejoined that the corporation maintained unlawful tennis courts in two city properties in order to collect extra rent: (fn. 6) that accusation was repeated in 1575. (fn. 7)
Townsmen occasionally played ball-games and other illegal sports with students, and must have suffered financially from the prohibitions imposed by the university on such joint activity. By 1575 no person was to allow on his property, without the vice-chancellor's leave, any bear-baiting, bull-baiting or horse-baiting, cock-fighting, fencing or dancingschools, plays, bowling alleys, cards, dice, tables, or shovel-groat. (fn. 8) It was forbidden to play ball against buildings, roofs or walls. (fn. 9) The orders were aimed at preventing young persons 'consuming the goods of their parents, masters, and friends'. No undergraduate was to stand in the New Parks or any other fields around Oxford 'gazing idly upon archers, shooters and bowlers, betting or otherwise'. (fn. 10) Ministers or deacons were to be dismissed the university forthwith if they went into the field to play football. (fn. 11) James I relaxed the restrictions on certain games in 1618 (fn. 12) but the university continued its prohibition. The Laudian statutes of 1636 forbade students, especially graduates, to play football among themselves or with townsmen, or to play bowls in the town alleys or ball games in the private yards of townsmen. (fn. 13) After the Restoration little attempt was made to enforce statutes against cards, dice, skittles, shuffle-board, or billiards, which were played in a multitude of ale-houses in the city; penalties were, however, enforced against people winning money by deceit at cards or dice. (fn. 14)
There were four bowling alleys in the city by 1508 (fn. 15) and by the end of the 16th century the game was popular in the university. A doctor of the university was the lessee of an alley next to his house near Bocardo in 1589, (fn. 16) and in the early 17th century physicians were recommending the game. (fn. 17) The corporation established a public bowling green in Broken Hayes in 1631 which fell into disuse by 1648 and may have been restored in 1681. (fn. 18) Puritans approved of the game, and Fairfax and Cromwell played on the college green after dining in Magdalen. (fn. 19) In the 18th century the most popular greens were in Holywell, run in conjunction with the cockpits there by the lessees of the Cardinal's Hat and Cockpit inns; one of them, the Manor green, was converted into a garden by the warden of Wadham College in the early 19th century. (fn. 20)
Football developed in the 16th century from a street rough-and-tumble to a game sufficiently popular to be forbidden by the university in both 1584 and 1636. (fn. 21) There was a brawl during a football game in High Street at Shrovetide in 1595, and Crosfield reported much playing of football by Oxford citizens at Shrovetide in 1633. (fn. 22) Later, when play was permitted to undergraduates outside the city, Bullingdon Green became the favourite pitch. (fn. 23)
The earliest known tennis courts in the city lay on the east and west sides of Smith Gate in 1530; the eastern one became part of a book-store in 1695. (fn. 24) Cardinal College court was mentioned in 1546 (fn. 25) and in the mid 16th century two Oxford men were licensed by the Crown to keep tennis courts at their houses for the use of 'all true subjects', except vagabonds, apprentices, scholars, and servants playing against their masters' will. (fn. 26) One licensee was Bartholomew Lant, whose son John was holding the lease of a tennis court in Blue Boar Lane, behind the Unicorn, in 1587; the court was rebuilt and roofed over c. 1670 and was probably still used for tennis in the early 19th century. (fn. 27) Oriel court in Vinehall Lane, mentioned in 1577, (fn. 28) was played in by Charles I and Prince Rupert. (fn. 29) It survived into the 20th century, but was used as a lecture hall by Oriel College in 1923 and earlier may have been used as a theatre. (fn. 30) Merton court, behind Postmasters' Hall, Merton Street, existed by 1595 when the lessee was John Lant. In 1610 the lease passed to Anthony Wood's father, Thomas, who built a second court by 1626 (fn. 31) and a little house beside it. (fn. 32) Thomas Burnham, the Wood family's lessee, issued a farthing token in 1647 with a racquet and ball on one side; another court-owner issued a similar token in 1660. (fn. 33) Merton court remained in the Wood family until 1754 (fn. 34) and was the only court to survive in the 1970s.
The game of fives or handball grew in popularity among undergraduates in the later 16th century. Exeter College had a court by 1590 (fn. 35) and most colleges had courts by 1675 when Loggan's map shows three undergraduates playing fives on Merton College court. (fn. 36) The game's popularity waned and by the mid 19th century the only court in use was in St. Clement's. Interest was revived in 1850 by W. H. Freemantle, later dean of Ripon, who procured the building of Eton-fives courts next to the Merton tennis courts. In 1853 new public courts were built in St. Giles's, comprising racquet courts, a bat-fives court, and courts for both Eton- and Rugby-fives. The company which took them over in 1865 also built courts in Holywell, but failed in the 1890s. (fn. 37) Squash racquets became a popular game among undergraduates in the second quarter of the 20th century, and later a number of private squash clubs were formed. In 1967 there were no squash courts for public use. (fn. 38)
Whether the bears brought regularly to Oxford by the queen's bearward in the later 16th century were for baiting is not clear. (fn. 39) Bear-baiting took place in St. Clement's in 1690. (fn. 40) The principal bull-ring was at Carfax until the site was taken for the building of the conduit in 1616. (fn. 41) There was also a bull-ring outside the North Gate (fn. 42) and a baiting took place at St. Clement's in 1636. (fn. 43) There was a disturbance between town and gown at a bull-baiting at Headington in 1717 (fn. 44) and a man was gored by a bull tethered for baiting in St. Clement's in 1781. (fn. 45) There was a university bull-baiting club in 1826, (fn. 46) and in 1835 a ring in Cowley Marsh, once called the Milking Place. (fn. 47) An Oxford man in the early 20th century recalled how he had attended a bull-baiting opposite the old L.N.W.R. station. (fn. 48)
By the early 17th century a rich man's education was considered incomplete without a knowledge of dancing, fencing, vaulting (the equivalent of modern gymnastics), and riding, which were often taught on the same premises. (fn. 49) Dancing schools or schools of defence in Oxford were so renowned by the early 17th century as to influence a father in the choice of a university for his son. (fn. 50) The most prominent early school was called the Bocardo, run by John Bossely in 1606 in a house in Cornmarket Street opposite St. Michael's church. (fn. 51) Bossely's successors, including his son John, and William Stokes, later author of a popular treatise, The Vaulting Master, raised the reputation of the school to national renown. Among their pupils were Lord Percy of Alnwick, John Evelyn, and Prince Charles, who came to learn after the battle of Edgehill. John Bossely was still teaching in 1661 having survived the Puritan régime. (fn. 52) The dancing room was demolished in 1771 under a street-widening scheme, (fn. 53) having been used for many years as an auction room. (fn. 54)
Thomas Wood, vinter, had been running a dancing school at his tavern, the Salutation, no. 104 High Street, for some years in 1652 when his ex-apprentice John Newman set up a school in Ship Street which was said to have enticed away Wood's pupils. (fn. 55) Wood's school continued, however, until at least 1658. (fn. 56) The room in Ship Street was used for dancing until the beginning of the 20th century when it was pulled down to make room for Jesus College's new buildings. (fn. 57) During that time it had also been used for plays and entertainments. (fn. 58) William James, an Oxford dancing master who had learned his art in France, taught Anthony Wood the violin in 1665 (fn. 59) at a school outside the North Gate, used as a preaching-place by Presbyterians in 1689. (fn. 60) Waver's school, established before 1675 at no. 32 Holywell, (fn. 61) became sufficiently renowed by 1691 to be considered by topical versifiers a part of the university scene, (fn. 62) as was Dowson's school, whose owner, along with Waver and others, was brought before the vice-chancellor's court in 1699 for wearing a sword within the university precincts. (fn. 63) One of Waver's rivals was Bannister, a violinist and composer, who had been leader of the King's Band (1663-7) (fn. 64) and came to Oxford to teach dancing in 1675. (fn. 65) There was also a dancing school at no. 80 High Street in 1669-70. (fn. 66) Riding schools set up in 1637 (fn. 67) and 1700 (fn. 68) were short-lived and plans in the mid 18th century to establish a riding school from the proceeds of some of the writings of Edward, Lord Clarendon (d. 1674), were not carried out. (fn. 69)
During the 18th century dancing became more of a social activity than simply an educational exercise. Balls and assemblies were held regularly in the winter months in the Long Room in Ship Street, (fn. 70) and in the winter of 1764 there was a ball every Tuesday night at the Botley Assembly room, opposite the mill; advertisements appeared in the press inviting tenders for lighting Botley Causeway for the convenience of dancers. (fn. 71)
A popular traditional sport was cudgel-play for which Cowley Wake was famed as the Olympiad of the country. (fn. 72) A game of 'piked staff' was responsible for bloodshed between a servant and a student in 1442; only one stick (baculum) appears to have been involved in the game. (fn. 73) Backsword or singlestick prize fights, the great sport of the Vale of the White Horse until it died out at the beginning of the 19th century, was also popular. (fn. 74) There was a match during the university Act of 1630, (fn. 75) and in 1661 Wood attended a fight at the King's Arms in Holywell. (fn. 76) Hearne told of the resentment felt by the townsmen in 1729 when a prize fight was stopped by the vice-chancellor after permission for it had been given by the mayor. (fn. 77) The traditional prize was a hat.
Most field sports were rigorously confined to the upper classes in the 17th century. The forests and heaths of Bullingdon, Shotover, and Wychwood were much used for hunting, but the poor went poaching and so did undergraduates. (fn. 78) Sporting rights were profitable; ten warrens of up to 40 acres around Oxford, were each yielding £700 a year in 1633. (fn. 79) Hounds expressly bred for chasing foxes were not generally kept until the mid 18th century but staghounds hunted both foxes and stags. (fn. 80) Charles II, when staying in Oxford, went out with the duke of York to hunt foxes towards Bechentree. (fn. 81) Hawking was forbidden to undergraduates by the Laudian statutes but was popular in the area, and Charles II hawked across country on his way from Oxford to the Burford races. (fn. 82)
Small birds were exempt from the game laws and in 1640 many Oxford citizens owned 'birding-pieces', (fn. 83) but they were forbidden by by-laws of that time to lend them to, or keep them for, scholars, the same prohibition extending to hawks, ferrets, and hunting dogs. (fn. 84) Hare-coursing was unaffected by the laws, but as hares became scarcer towards the end of the 17th century they too became the perquisite of the rich instead of 'every honest and good man's chase'; (fn. 85) in 1728 Hearne accused the bishop of Oxford of going coursing with his wife to hinder the poor from catching any hares. (fn. 86) By the mid 18th century many greyhounds were being sold because there were no more hares in the area. (fn. 87)
Angling as a sport was popular in Oxford by the 17th century. Fish were so plentiful in the Thames that even the huge numbers taken during the annual June netting by the mayor and burgesses did not seriously deplete the stocks for the rest of the season. (fn. 88) By-laws of c. 1640 forbade townsmen to lend fishing tackle to scholars except for use in waters where the owner's consent had been given. (fn. 89) Anthony Wood and some of his undergraduate friends were keen fishermen but most anglers were probably city freemen. In 1666 the council took action against a man who had assaulted several freemen fishing with angles. (fn. 90)
Boating for pleasure was well-established by 1604, when an undergraduate sonnet extolled the pleasures of cream, cakes, and peaches at Medley when boating with his love. (fn. 91) By-laws of c. 1640 warned boatowners to keep their boats locked up when not in use, and not to lend them to scholars unaccompanied by a responsible boatman. (fn. 92) Boating picnics with music and wine became the fashion among undergraduates in the 18th century and the river and its surroundings became a favourite subject for romantic poetry. (fn. 93) Boat-racing appears to have been a 19th-century development, frowned on in 1844 by the hebdomodal council, which proposed measures to prevent its 'serious evils'. (fn. 94) In 1839 the Oxford Conservatives held acquatic sports in Nuneham Reach and in 1841 the City of Oxford Regatta was held there, moving the following year to a reach between Iffley and Oxford. The event lapsed in 1845 and was revived in 1858 under the patronage of the prince of Wales, becoming the Royal Regatta in 1860. In 1881 Henley rules were adopted. The university competed until 1890 (fn. 95) and thereafter the city regatta lost status but survived in 1974, having been held annually except during war years. The Riverside Club at Donnington bridge was opened in 1964 to provide facilities for all rowing clubs. Sailing boats, which were popular on the Port Meadow reach of the Thames by the late 19th century, were catered for by the Medley boat-houses. The popularity of boating stimulated the development of boat-building at the wharves near Folly bridge, Hythe bridge, and Medley.
The river also provided opportunities for swimming and skating. In the hot summer of 1685 the rivers almost dried up and Wood observed that 'few bath themselves this year'. (fn. 96) Presumably few bathers at that time could swim, but swimming in the Cherwell is mentioned in 1667 (fn. 97) and Hearne described the drowning of a swimmer there in 1722. (fn. 98) There are several other 17th and 18th century references to drowning but in 1859 a coroner reported that the number of cases was exaggerated and that more knew now how to swim. (fn. 99) In 1827 a swimming bath and school of natation was opened in St. Clement's; the bath was housed in an imposing classical building, and subscribers could use the associated reading room and vapour baths. (fn. 100) The bath had become converted into a turkish bath by 1866. (fn. 101) Undergraduates in the 17th century swam at Paten's Pleasure, (fn. 102) known by the 19th century as Loggerhead, and in the 20th century as Parson's Pleasure; it was always the custom for men to bathe there naked. The first public bathing place authorized by the city council appears to have been at Fiddler's Island near Port Meadow in 1852, (fn. 103) and another at Tumbling Bay was recommended in 1853 (fn. 104) and extended in 1866. (fn. 105) Several others were opened later. Merton Street indoor swimming baths were opened in 1869. After initial failure as a subscription club they were re-opened in 1870 for the public and were also used by the university. (fn. 106) Although small and inadequate they were leased by the city (1924-38) for teaching school children. Dames' Delight was opened for family bathing next to Parson's Pleasure in 1934, and closed in 1970 after being damaged by floods. (fn. 107) In 1935 the corporation resolved to establish no more river baths because of increasing pollution. An open-air bath was constructed that year at Sunnymede and in 1936 the former filter beds at New Hinksey were converted into swimming and paddling pools. Temple Cowley indoor swimming bath was opened in 1938, but strong pressure since the 1950s for an indoor bath nearer central Oxford had yielded no result by 1974.
Skating on the frozen rivers, particularly on the flooded area of Port meadow, was popular as early as the 17th century. In 1699 a race was won by a pupil of Addison. (fn. 108) In the long skating season of 1763 the matches included a race along the Thames between Iffley and Sandford. (fn. 109) An ice-rink constructed at Botley in 1931 was shortly afterwards converted into a cinema. (fn. 110)
Until 1680 horse-racing in Oxford consisted of small and informal matches on Port Meadow, such as 'a prize and a horse race' in July 1630 and 'many matches of horse' the following September. (fn. 111) The important meetings patronized by royalty and local nobility were at Burford, Bibury (Glos.), Chipping Norton, and Woodstock. In 1680 John, Lord Lovelace, a fervent supporter of the duke of Monmouth, wishing to canvass the citizens of Oxford and revenge the lukewarmness of those of Woodstock, moved his horses thence to Port Meadow and invited the duke to ride. (fn. 112) The following year, to encourage the new meeting, Lord Lovelace ordered a plate from an Oxford goldsmith, but fell out with him over the payment, and as a result of the quarrel removed his horses. (fn. 113) Nevertheless the Port Meadow meeting, usually in late August, appears to have been held fairly regularly thereafter. In 1706 the earl of Abingdon moved his horses from Woodstock to Port Meadow. (fn. 114) A German visitor to Oxford in 1710 gave a vivid description of the meeting, at which he arrived by boat; it lasted for three days, nearly everyone in the city appeared to be present, and the 2½-mile pearshaped course was thought better than Epsom. Side shows, beer stalls, and foot races formed part of the programme at the race-meetings. There were smockraces, the women wearing petticoats and low-necked shifts, the men breeches without shirts. (fn. 115)
By the mid 18th century the Port Meadow racemeetings had become the occasion of great social festivities. In 1768 the duchess of Marlborough spent much repairing the course and its approaches against water-logging so that jockeys claimed that it was the best flat-race course in Europe. (fn. 116) By the end of the century it was customary for the two city M.P.s to defray the cost of the meeting, which was estimated to be worth £2,000 to the city in trade. (fn. 117) In 1804, before the race, horses were shown and entered at the Horse and Jockey in Woodstock Road. (fn. 118) The meeting lapsed in the 1840s but in 1846 enough subscriptions were collected to revive it (fn. 119) and a new straight course was laid in 1859. (fn. 120) By 1865 there were more financial difficulties and the race committee was involved in litigation with the freemen over the right to use Port Meadow, so it was decided to abandon the meeting. (fn. 121) The last race meeting there appears to have been held in 1880. (fn. 122)
In the 18th century sporting wagers on such feats as walking, running, or riding against the clock to London or Henley, were popular. (fn. 123) In 1721 two blacksmiths raced naked between Wadham College and the middle of the New Parks for a wager, (fn. 124) and all kinds of other spectacles found a ready audience, from the attempted flight of 'Cornish Tom' from the top of Carfax tower in 1715 (fn. 125) to the balloon ascents of James Sadler in 1784; (fn. 126) his ascent from Oxford on 4 October 1784 was the second successful one in England. (fn. 127) Pugilism was a favourite subject for wagers. James Carter, a celebrated champion, fought at Holywell Cockpit in 1755; (fn. 128) a fight at Kennington Feast in 1762 ended in the death of one of the participants. (fn. 129) By the early 19th century fighting had become commercialized, there was heavy betting at most of the inns in Oxford, and prize money was usually from £5 to £50 or more for a fight. In the 1840s the prize-fighting enthusiasts met at the Horse and Chair in Pembroke Street, the Windmill in St. Giles's, the Tanner's Pit in St. Clement's, and the Paviour's Arms in Castle Street. Many well-known local pugilists, however, joined the army and were lost in the Crimea. (fn. 130)
Cock-fighting had become a fashionable spectator sport by the later 17th century. Mains were frequently advertised in the press, especially during the summer months. The two principal pits were close to one another in Holywell. One was a polygonal building with a conical roof associated with the Cardinal's Hat at the corner of Holywell and St. Cross Road, (fn. 131) and the other was a semi-circular stone building by the north side of the manor-house, which had become the Cockpit inn by 1750; it was demolished in 1845. There was also a 19th-century pit at the Carpenter's Arms in Castle Street and fights were sometimes transferred thither if the proctor's 'bulldogs' were thought to be approaching Holywell. (fn. 132) The sport was forbidden by the Act of 1849 but it continued secretly for many years. (fn. 133)
Dog-fighting had become a popular city sport by the end of the 18th century. Webb's was the principal yard in 1815 (fn. 134) and in 1835 there were yards in George Lane (fn. 135) and at a public-house in King Street. (fn. 136) The 'cock of the Oxford Walk' in 1842 was the dog, Nelson. (fn. 137) A dog-pit at the Plasterer's Arms in Marston in 1850 was also used for badger-baiting. (fn. 138) An inhabitant in 1902 remembered seeing dog-fighting in the bull-ring by the L.N.W.R. station. (fn. 139)
Games played in Oxford public-houses in the 18th and 19th century included bumble-puppy, (fn. 140) apparently a mixture of skittles and bagatelle invented to circumvent legislation against forbidden games. There were two alleys in Holywell, one of them at the Turf tavern, and others continued in use into the 20th century. (fn. 141) Aunt Sally was popular, also, and alleys survived in several public houses in Oxford in 1974.
Stoolball, possibly a forerunner of cricket, was being played by women in Oxford by 1633. (fn. 142) A cricket club was among Oxford clubs listed in 1762; (fn. 143) it first played on Port Meadow but soon afterwards used Bullingdon Green as well. (fn. 144) Away matches were played with local county teams such as the North Oxfordshire Gentlemen, against whom a match was played in 1805 for a purse of 25 guineas. (fn. 145) In 1806 the Sociable Cricket Club from the Alfred's Head and the All Oxford Club played a game on Port Meadow. (fn. 146) In 1822 there was a match on the meadow between married and single elevens. (fn. 147) The Oxford City Cricket Club was formally constituted in 1833. (fn. 148) The ground on Bullingdon Common was by then mostly used by university cricketers, chiefly men from Eton and Winchester who formed the exclusive Bullingdon Club; (fn. 149) they bought the land when the common was inclosed in 1851 and continued playing there until 1881 when they moved to the Parks. (fn. 150)
In the later 19th century the prestige of sport grew very quickly among undergraduates, and large areas of land close to the city centre were set aside for college games. The result was that the corporation saw little need to provide sports grounds for citizens, who could rent college grounds during the vacations; the unique availability of facilities led to a proliferation of clubs for such games as cricket and lawn tennis which was exceptional for a city of Oxford's size. When the dependence on university facilities was occasionally broken, the grounds acquired were usually on the outskirts of the city; thus the Oxford Sports Club, founded in 1950 by the joint effort of Oxford rugby, cricket, and hockey clubs, was at North Hinksey, and when city athletes first acquired a track of their own in the 1960s it was at Horspath. Oxford City Amateur Football Club, however, used its own ground on Botley Road between 1912 and 1921, (fn. 151) moving to White House Road in 1923. (fn. 152) Until 1905 townsmen could play golf only by invitation of university men on their course at Cowley Marsh, opened in 1875; from 1905 the newly formed Oxford City Club used that course, and in 1923 the city and university clubs moved to a new course at Southfield, the old course becoming the site of Morris Motors. (fn. 153) Other clubs close to the city were North Oxford (1907) and Frilford Heath (1908). The sporting facilities of Oxford kept pace with the growing population and their increased leisure after the Second World War. The Oxford Stadium, which had been opened for greyhound racing in 1939, was also used for speedway after 1948 and the city acquired a Football League Club in 1962, when Oxford (formerly Headington) United entered the league and rose rapidly to the second division. It may be noted also that the first 'four-minute-mile' was run at the university's Iffley Road track in 1954. Probably the most popular present day 'participation' sport is fishing; in 1965 the Angling and Preservation Society had 2,500 members. (fn. 154)
Oxford, like Cambridge, appears to have played little part in the history of medieval drama. No extant texts of miracle plays or 15th-century moralities can be connected with the town, and there are few references to performances; (fn. 155) one such was the Miracle of St. Catherine acted in Oxford in the 12th century. (fn. 156) By the early 16th century plays had become part of student life and were evidently attended by townsmen for in 1543 Brasenose College, appealing for permission to act a Latin play, claimed that it would edify 'the unlettered as well as the learned'. On the queen's visit in 1566 townsmen were among those killed during a play in Christ Church when a wall gave way. Hostility to the professional actor was not then apparent except in Puritan circles, (fn. 157) and bands of players were encouraged to visit the city; 6s. 8d. given by the city council to the earl of Oxford's players in 1556-7 was the first recorded of many such payments. (fn. 158)
By 1575 the universities had become aware of the danger of allowing 'bad persons' to distract scholars from their studies, and in that year the Privy Council forbade performances by common players within a radius of 5 miles of Cambridge. (fn. 159) A university statute inhibiting such performances within the city of Oxford was enacted in 1584, and the wider prohibition by the Privy Council in 1593. (fn. 160) The city council in 1580 forbade players to perform in the town hall without the whole council's consent, (fn. 161) but in 1586 the earl of Essex's men were given such permission. (fn. 162) The council did not acquiesce in the university's ban on players within the city, so that the university often had to pay players to go away without performing; the rate for such danegeld was 20s. in 1589-90 and 40s. in 1603. (fn. 163) The last recorded payment by the city to a company was in 1617. (fn. 164)
The traditional occasions for every variety of entertainment for both town and gown in Oxford were the Assize week and the university Act, the crowning ceremony of the academic year, which lasted for three or four days in July. The outbreak of plague in the city after the Act of 1592 was attributed to the crowds attending 'plays and interludes' and resulted in the prohibiting statute of 1593. Professional companies continued to visit Oxford during the Act and at other times, mainly during vacations, but were considered, even by the supporters of academic drama, to be vagabonds, unlike the actors in college productions. Shakespeare's company of actors, the King's players, came six times to Oxford between 1604 and 1613. (fn. 165) In the 1630s all companies visiting Oxford required special letters from Archbishop Laud, chancellor of the university. (fn. 166) A few theatrical performances were given by amateurs. Wood blamed the Presbyterians and Independents for the disappearance from Oxford of all common players during the Protectorate, (fn. 167) and in 1660 he attended a play to spite the Presbyterians. (fn. 168) By 1661 the Act entertainments had been restored in full, and there were several plays at the King's Arms that year.
In the later 17th century the king and queen often requested the vice-chancellor to allow 'our company of comedians' to perform during the Act, (fn. 169) but the university continued to disapprove of plays at other times. In 1737 an Act of Parliament (fn. 170) renewed the prohibition of 1593 and a further Act of 1787-8, enabling justices to license shows, excluded areas within 14 miles of Oxford and Cambridge. (fn. 171) Such legislation was evidently not strictly enforced, except perhaps during term-time. By the early 19th century the importance of the university Act had waned and a variety of entertainments was being provided throughout the year: it became customary for plays to be performed during vacations. In 1843 restrictions on the performance of plays were officially relaxed, (fn. 172) except that the university's consent was required; the staging of plays during term-time was not allowed until the 1880s.
In the 16th century players usually performed at inns such as the King's Head, Cornmarket Street, which had a large yard, (fn. 173) or in the town hall or its courtyard. The King's Arms, Holywell, licensed by Thomas Franklin in 1607, became the most popular place for plays during the 17th century; (fn. 174) Crosfield noted, as an unusual occurence, that there were no players at Franklin's for the Act of 1630, because of the fear of infection. (fn. 175) Plays were also staged in tennis courts in Wood's time, the King's players using his brother Robert's court in 1680; (fn. 176) possibly courts were used much earlier in bad weather for at least two had been roofed in before the end of the 16th century. (fn. 177) After the Restoration the town hall was again used for amateur and professional performances: (fn. 178) in 1700 the city council reprimanded its officers for allowing shows there during the Act without leave, since the order of 1580 was still in force. (fn. 179) An attempt to erect a temporary building for plays on Broken Hayes in 1669 was defeated by the parishioners of St. Mary Magdalen parish. (fn. 180) Inn-yards and tennis courts continued in use into the 19th century. In the 1830s Scowton's Pavilion in St. Clement's provided cheap and topical drama during the St. Clement's fair. (fn. 181)
The first of four theatres to be known as the New theatre was opened in St. Mary Hall Lane, Oriel Street, in 1833. (fn. 182) There Mr. Barnett's company, which had presented summer seasons in the St. Aldate's tennis court for the previous two years, presented farce, comedy, and tragedy. (fn. 183) The building was replaced in 1836 by a second New theatre, in a court (later Victoria Court) off George Street. (fn. 184) The theatre was also called the Victoria, and from 1868 the Theatre Royale, after the company which played there; (fn. 185) the company had first come to Oxford in 1859, presenting its summer season during the vacation in the Star Assembly Rooms, and between 1863 and 1866 in the town hall. (fn. 186) After the move to the Victoria the standard of production during the vacation remained relatively high, but during term, when plays were forbidden, the lessee resorted to shows of the musichall type under the heading of 'concerts'. (fn. 187) Among members of the university the theatre was regarded as 'ramshackle, wretched, a most disgusting place of entertainment'. (fn. 188)
In the later 19th century the university's attitude to plays began to change, and in 1880 Benjamin Jowett, master of Balliol, after a successful performance of a play by members of his college, (fn. 189) decided that the Victoria theatre should be closed and a theatre built for plays performed by professionals, amateurs, and members of the university alike. (fn. 190) Many townspeople had already been planning a new theatre, and in 1885 a company was formed to raise money for that purpose. The third New theatre, in George Street, designed by H. G. W. Drinkwater, held 900 to 1,000 people; (fn. 191) it was opened in 1886 with a performance given by the Oxford University Dramatic Society. (fn. 192) It was badly damaged by fire in 1892, was extensively altered in 1908, and was closed and demolished in 1933. The fourth New theatre was built on the same site to designs by Messrs. Milburn Bros. of Sunderland. (fn. 193) It was one of the largest provincial theatres in the country and one of the few able to accommodate the London opera and ballet companies. In recent years new plays have been performed there frequently before opening in London.
In 1890 an assembly hall with stage and gallery was built against the East Oxford Constitutional Club, no. 106 Cowley Road. It was let for theatricals and music-hall performances. In 1902 the lessee named it the Empire theatre, and staged farce, variety, and melodrama. In 1908 the name was changed to the East Oxford theatre under new management, and a slightly higher standard of theatrical show was performed. (fn. 194) In 1912 the theatre was closed and reopened as a cinema, the Palace Theatre. (fn. 195)
A repertory theatre, the Playhouse, was established in 1923, with the support of the university. (fn. 196) It opened in a former big-game museum in the Woodstock Road, very uncomfortable and inconvenient. The company was managed by J. B. Fagan and aimed to perform three seven-weekly productions, one for each university term, concentrating on plays by foreign and lesser known English playwrights of all periods. Many famous actors and actresses appeared at the Playhouse while they were still relatively unknown. By 1928 Fagan's company was in financial difficulties and the theatre was closed at the end of 1929. It was turned into one of the first miniature golf courses in the country, but was re-opened as a theatre in 1930. Oxford inhabitants gave only half-hearted support and then only to farce and light comedy. The theatre closed in 1938.
A new Playhouse theatre was built in Beaumont Street on land leased from St. John's College by a committee comprising the mayor and representatives of the subscribers and the university. Objections to building a modern theatre there were overcome by the addition of a façade designed by Sir Edward Maufe. Most of the money was put up by Eric Dance, lessee of the old theatre since 1936; he sub-let the theatre to the Oxford Repertory Players Ltd. who opened in 1938 with a play by J. B. Fagan.
During and after the war the company faced many difficulties and in April 1956 the theatre was closed, but was re-opened in October 1956 under new management and with a new company, Meadow Players; the Arts Council and the university gave financial aid. In 1959 it was described as one of the most progressive and adventurous theatres in Europe. In 1961 the university, with the help of the University Grants Committee, purchased the lease. A reconstruction appeal was launched in that year and the work completed by the beginning of 1964.
Oxford waits were mentioned in 1501 and may have existed in the Middle Ages. (fn. 197) In the mid 16th century the council was occasionally entertained by a minstrel at election dinners and by organ-players, presumably in Carfax Church, on coronation days. (fn. 198) Payments to city waits or official musicians were recorded in 1574; (fn. 199) there were usually six, who had to provide themselves with silver scutcheons, which became the city's property on their death or resignation. (fn. 200) They were expected to perform on public holidays and civic occasions and a gallery was built on the east side of Carfax conduit for them to play from during royal visits. (fn. 201) By 1603 the waits had the sole right to perform in the city and suburbs and a new appointment to the office could only be made from apprentices of freeman musicians. By mid-century a minimum standard of ability was requested. (fn. 202) In 1673 when the waits were below strength, that qualification was waived, and the council agreed to buy new liveries and badges and to uphold their sole performing rights except during the Act and assize week. All other musicians, except those employed by the university, should be punished as vagrants. (fn. 203) In the late 17th century many city waits also kept ale-houses, notably John Davis at the Goat's Head, near Bocardo dancing-school, in 1690. (fn. 204) In 1680 the council complained that music had not been played during the franchise-riding and ordered that in future the waits should sit at the end of the mayor's boat and also play throughout dinner as had been the custom. (fn. 205) In 1698 the waits were threatened with the removal of their liveries unless they played as usual. (fn. 206) New cloaks were provided up to 1712 (fn. 207) but thereafter no reference to waits has been found. Fiddlers played at the franchise-riding between 1747 and 1751, (fn. 208) the council paid for music and drums in 1753, (fn. 209) and a city band formed part of the procession at peace celebrations in 1763. (fn. 210)
Music-making was an important social activity in the 17th century. A subscription concert was held in Oxford in 1665, thirteen years before the first known London subscription concert. (fn. 211) Weekly music meetings took place in the 1650s and early 1660s in the house of William Ellis, organist at St. John's, at no. 47 Broad Street. Although most of the players were university amateur or professional musicians, competent local performers were invited to join them. Visiting virtuosi also gave concerts at such meetings or in taverns. (fn. 212)
During the 18th century parents' wishes to have their sons admitted to college choirs encouraged music-teaching. Dean Aldrich of Christ Church would take no boy as chorister unless he had been properly taught. (fn. 213) The vice-chancellor's invitation to Handel to perform at the Act of 1733 (fn. 214) stimulated the demand for a concert room, and from the opening of the Holywell music room in 1784 regular concerts were given every week for over 80 years, financed by the Subscription Music Society. (fn. 215) Occasional concerts were also given at the Sheldonian theatre and the town hall.
By the 1830s the appreciation of music had become unaccountably unfashionable in Oxford; few supported subscription concerts but some amateur performing societies were formed, such as the Oxford Choral Society in 1831, (fn. 216) and the Motet and Madrigal Society in 1845. (fn. 217) By 1865 interest in music began to revive: a concert of light music in the corn exchange was attended by over 1,000 people. (fn. 218) Public audiences were admitted to concerts run by a university society in 1872 and to the Balliol concerts started by Jowett in 1885. (fn. 219) There was unusual co-operation between the university and town in music-making; the joint towngown Oxford Philharmonic Society was formed out of the University Amateur Music Society in 1865 (fn. 220) and, after a later amalgamation with the Choral Society, united with the University Bach Choir to form the Oxford Bach Choir in 1906. The Oxford Orchestral Society was formed in 1903. (fn. 221) From 1920 the Oxford Subscription Society ensured that seven major professional concerts were given in the city each year and from 1963 there was an annual international Bach Festival. The choirs at the cathedral, New College, and Magdalen College acquired world-wide reputations.
Oxford has the oldest music room in Europe. A university music club which met at the King's Head for weekly concerts during the early 18th century initiated the idea of a music room, and monthly concerts given at the King's Head raised sufficient money to complete a music room in Holywell in 1748. The building was designed by Dr. Thomas Camplin, vice-principal of St. Edmund Hall, and contained seats for 400 and an organ built by John Byfield. (fn. 222) The interior was altered several times thereafter. (fn. 223) The room was financed by subscriptions from both city and university people, the concerts were public, but management was entirely by university men. A permanent orchestra of 20 musicians and two singers was attached to the room in 1789. Outside performers were engaged, sometimes after a competition, the successful candidate occasionally being required to settle in Oxford. Instrumentalists and singers who appeared there included the infant prodigy, William Crotch, later professor of music at Oxford and first principal of the Royal Academy of Music, the great violincellist Crosdil, teacher of George IV, in 1768, and the famous oboeist Fischer in 1771. Concerts of vocal and instrumental music were given weekly and four grand choral performances each year. In the early 19th century financial difficulties reduced the number and quality of performances; large losses were incurred in 1825 because of public indifference and in 1836 concerts ceased. From 1840 the lease of the music room was held by an auctioneer, and between 1845 and 1860 the Oxford Architectural Society used it as a museum; it continued to be used occasionally by musical societies for rehearsals. (fn. 224) From 1901, when the Oxford University Musical Union obtained the lease, it was used primarily as a music room, but it was in poor condition until 1959. It was then restored to its original elegance and became an integral part of the university faculty of music besides being used for concerts. (fn. 225)
The other chief concert halls were the Sheldonian theatre, the only hall in Oxford suitable for a full orchestra; the town hall and its 18th-century predecessor; the corn exchange of 1861 in the town hall yard, where in the 1860s popular entertainments 'for the working classes' were given, including oratorios and church music by college choirs; (fn. 226) the new corn exchange of 1896 in George Street; the Star Assembly Rooms, later the Clarendon Assembly Rooms, opened in Cornmarket Street in 1832; (fn. 227) Wyatt's Rooms in High Street, used for chamber-music concerts in the 19th century; (fn. 228) and a music room in Gunfield (no. 19 Norham Gardens), owned by the Deneke family, used from the 1930s for regular Sunday afternoon concerts in term-time, offered to the public by the Ladies' Music Society.
The exhibition of wild animals, and performances by acrobats at fairs, inns, or as part of theatrical varieties in assembly rooms, were common in Oxford. In the later 16th century, for example, the queen's bearward visited the town regularly and in 1562 the council paid the queen's jester. (fn. 229) A rhinoceros was on show in Oxford in 1686 (fn. 230) and clowns, acrobats, dwarfs, and a learned dog were on show at Ship Lane Dancing Room in the 1750s. The inns of that time, notably the Chequers, regularly exhibited wild animals. (fn. 231) Batty's Royal circus came to St. Giles's in 1841, Henderson's to St. Clement's in 1866, and Wombwell's was in the town in 1871. Boswell's circus was held in Hall's Close opposite the L.N.W.R. station in 1894, 1912, and 1914. (fn. 232) Barnum and Bailey included Oxford in their circuit at the height of their fame, and Sanger's and the Royal Italian circus also visited before the First World War. (fn. 233) In the 1970s circuses were held in the Oxpens at least once a year.
The first cinema in Oxford was the Electric, later the Picturedrome, opened in 1910 by Frank Stuart, proprietor of the East Oxford Theatre, in an old public wash-house in Castle Street. (fn. 234) The Oxford Picture Palace, at the junction of Jeune Street and Cowley Road, was opened under the same management in 1911, (fn. 235) and both quickly became popular, especially with children, on Saturday afternoons. A larger cinema, the Electra Palace, designed to show films for more adult and informed audiences, was opened in Queen Street in 1911. (fn. 236) The George Street Picture Palace or the Oxford, was opened in 1912 by the Oxford Cinematograph Theatre Co. Ltd., and in that year the East Oxford Theatre was re-opened as the Palace Theatre, to show films and variety turns twice daily, with special matinées on Saturdays. (fn. 237) The North Oxford Kinema in Walton Street was opened in 1913. (fn. 238)
Only two of the six early cinemas survived the competition from the larger cinemas after the First World War. The Oxford Picture Palace was closed by 1920, (fn. 239) the Castle Street Picturedrome by 1925, (fn. 240) the Oxford by 1935, (fn. 241) and the Palace Theatre by 1938. (fn. 242) The Electra joined the Union syndicate of cinemas in 1934, (fn. 243) was taken over by Oxford and Berkshire Cinemas Ltd. in 1939, (fn. 244) and survived until 1958; (fn. 245) the site became part of the Co-operative Stores. The North Oxford Kinema, renamed the Scala in 1920, (fn. 246) specialized in old and foreign films and was patronized by film clubs. In 1970 it was taken over by Star Entertainments Ltd. and converted into Studios One and Two.
Five new cinemas were built in the 1920s and 1930s. The Super, later the A.B.C., Magdalen Street, was opened in 1924. (fn. 247) The New Cinema at Headington was opened in 1925, renamed the Moulin Rouge in 1960, and thereafter specialized in showing old films. (fn. 248) The Majestic, Botley, was opened in 1934 in the former ice-rink, and was closed in 1940. (fn. 249) The Ritz, later the A.B.C., George Street, was opened in 1936, (fn. 250) and the Regal, Cowley Road in 1937. Both were designed by Robert Crombie for Union Cinemas. (fn. 251) Since 1969 the Regal has been used for bingo.
A list of Oxford clubs in 1762 (fn. 252) included 40 then or lately existing and 3 more about to be formed; 14 were friendly societies, 8 learned societies, 7 connected with eating or drinking, 4 with sports or 'common interests', 4 were professional or ethnic associations, 3 political, and 3 miscellaneous. An incomplete list of 1872 (fn. 253) included 41 clubs, of which 12 were sporting or mutual interest, 8 were friendly societies, 7 agricultural, 4 philanthropic, 3 political, 1 learned, and 1 professional; there were also 3 building societies and 2 working men's clubs.
Most early learned societies were started by members of the university, and where the original statutes are lost it is not possible to know whether the membership included citizens and distinguished outsiders. Some societies existed for serious study but others were apparently for the relaxation of learned men. Among the former in the 17th century were the Oxford Philosophical Society, founded c. 1650, which lasted for about a hundred years, (fn. 254) and the Chemical Club which met in Tillyard's coffee-house to listen to lectures by Peter Stael in the period 1659-63, and later formed the nucleus of the Royal Society. (fn. 255) Examples of the more frivolous category, presumably, were the Banterer's Club which was meeting in 1678 and the Red Herring Club whose records (1694-1773) reveal little except that it had a Welsh connexion and was founded by Edward Llyd, keeper of the Ashmolean Museum. The Poetical Club, the Free Cynics, the Nonsense Club, the Jellybag Club for promoting epigrams, and the Arcadian Society all started between 1720 and 1775 and may have been confined to undergraduates. (fn. 256) Three clubs 'shortly to be started' in 1762 were the Antiquarians at the Hole-in-the-Wall, frequented by Thomas Hearne and his friends, the Botanical Club at Cabbage Hall, and the Fossil Club at Titup Hall near Headington Quarries. (fn. 257) An institution named simply the Club, founded in 1790, had a membership limited to 12 graduates or distinguished outsiders. (fn. 258)
The Ashmolean Society was formed at a dinner of the Friends of Science in 1828 to exchange observations on natural history and experimental philosophy. In addition to university members it admitted 'gentlemen, not of the university, who had distinguished themselves by a taste for science or literature'. (fn. 259) The Society for Promoting the Study of Gothic Architecture, founded in 1839, became the Architectural and Historical Society in 1859 and merged in 1971 with the Oxford Archaeological Society, which had itself been revived from the Antiquarian Society in 1919. (fn. 260) The original Oxford Archaeological and Heraldic Society, founded in 1835, had been confined to university membership. (fn. 261) The Oxford Art Society, instituted in 1848 to promote a taste for fine art in the university, admitted as honorary members distinguished professional and amateur artists. (fn. 262) Few of the university clubs started in the second half of the century admitted outsiders: the Oxford Historical Society, however, invited membership in 1883 from all who were interested and by 1885 included many city residents. (fn. 263) The Society for the Protection of Nature and Antiquity, started in 1886, was limited at first to university members, since in its view the university had been responsible for so much spoliation of the city and its surroundings. By 1888 the ruling was amended and the executive committee thereafter comprised six university and six non-university members. (fn. 264) In the 20th century the tendency was for townsfolk to join local branches of nationally affiliated learned societies. Ornithological (fn. 265) and Bibliographical (fn. 266) societies, however, were founded in 1921.
The early political clubs were founded by university men. The High Borlace, a Tory and Jacobite club, and its Whig and Hanoverian counterpart, the Constitution Club, were both founded c. 1715; (fn. 267) the former was still meeting in 1766. (fn. 268) In 1762 the Anti-Gallicans were meeting in the town hall and the Anti-Jaspers in the council chamber; the Old Interest Meeting had lately been abolished. (fn. 269) During the 19th century Whigs and Tories each had local organizations. Radical meetings were held at the subscription room at the Rising Sun, Church Street, St. Ebbe's, in 1833 (fn. 270) and a Conservative Association was dining regularly in 1840. (fn. 271) The Canning Club flourished from 1863 to 1910, (fn. 272) the Constitutional Association, (fn. 273) the Liberal Association, and a Reform League in 1868, (fn. 274) and an Oxford Conservative Club, meeting at the Roebuck, was established in 1869. (fn. 275) The Oxford City Parliamentary Debating Society was formed in 1879, (fn. 276) a Reform Club in 1875, (fn. 277) and a Junior Reform Club in 1882. (fn. 278) In that year shilling dinners were being held for Conservative working men. A Socialist League, which was headed by a senior fellow of the university, was formed in 1885. (fn. 279) In the 20th century the leading political parties established numerous clubs throughout the city.
Among societies based on a common interest or profession in 1762 were the Apprentices or Town Smarts, who met at Starke's coffee-house, clubs for the clergy and for parish clerks, the Irish Society, and several dining or drinking clubs. (fn. 280) There were also sports and music clubs and in 1768 a Florist Society. (fn. 281) An Agricultural and Horticultural Society started in 1811 (fn. 282) and 1830 (fn. 283) respectively, and a Botanical Society in 1831 held weekly meetings to instruct members and exchange magazines. (fn. 284) Rose and chrysanthemum societies were exhibiting in the city by 1875. (fn. 285) During the 19th century societies with religious aims included the Oxford Society for Instructing the Poor in the principles of the Established Church in 1833; (fn. 286) the Churchman's Union set up a reading room behind Blackwell's book-shop in 1868; (fn. 287) the Ecclesiastical Society started in 1872, (fn. 288) and a Diocesan Church History Society in 1886. (fn. 289) The Oxford Teetotal Society was meeting in 1841, (fn. 290) the Oxford Temperance, Prohibition, and Band of Hope Association published statistics about drunkenness in Oxford in 1868, (fn. 291) and the Temperance Tonic Sol-fa Club met regularly in 1872. (fn. 292) The Guild of Bell-ringers was formed in 1880, (fn. 293) the Angling and Preservation Society in 1882, (fn. 294) and the Philatelic Society in 1893. (fn. 295)
There was a number of purely social clubs such as those meeting at the Randolph and Clarendon hotels during the 1870s (fn. 296) and the Oxford City and County Club, which met at no. 33 Holywell from 1905 until 1942. (fn. 297) The Oxford Luncheon Club to further the integration of town and gown was started in 1925 and the Woman's Luncheon Club with the same aim in 1934. (fn. 298)
The earliest named friendly society or box club of the 14 mentioned in 1762 (fn. 299) was the Elderly Society, founded by the landlord of the Mitre in 1758 (fn. 300) and re-formed by him at the Wheatsheaf and Anchor in St. Aldates in 1761; (fn. 301) in the same year he founded the Commercial Society of tradesmen and artificers to meet there on a different evening. (fn. 302) The societies all met at public houses and since they were actuarily unsound, like all friendly societies of the period, most were short-lived; the Useful, meeting in 1762, (fn. 303) and the Civis, a society for freemen founded in 1773, (fn. 304) were active, however, in 1832. (fn. 305)
Societies founded in the 19th century were protected to some extent by legislation and survived a little longer. In 1874 there were 5 societies limited to particular trades, 2 general societies, and 3 local branches of affiliated orders, all of which had been founded at least thirty years before. The Phoenix Benefit Society, limited to compositors and printers, had been founded in 1805; contrary to the usual drive to find new members it had ceased to recruit by 1874, as had the Mechanics' Benefit Society, founded in 1818, whose 48 members in 1784 were serious-minded handicraftsmen, abjuring feasts and excluding from membership painters, plumbers, and other 'unwholesome tradesmen'; earlier, in 1830, they had also excluded anyone who had not had smallpox or cowpox. The college servants had a friendly society, founded in 1812 and with a membership of 171 in 1874, of which the subsidizing honorary members were city tradesmen and not, as might have been expected, university men. The servants also had a provident society, purely a funeral club, which existed in 1856 and met at the Chequers in 1874. The Shoemakers' Trades Society, which met at the Anchor in New Road in 1874, held aloof from the Amalgamated Union based on London and devoted part of its funds to the relief of itinerant shoemakers, helping them on their way and preventing them from competing with city traders. The two general societies mentioned in the report of 1874 were the Iffley and Oxford New Benefit Club, founded in 1835, whose 112 members met in a school or public house but did not drink beer or smoke, and the Oxford Friendly Society, which broke away from the London Friendly Institute in 1840, had 299 members in 1874, but was dissolved in 1882. (fn. 306) Parochial provident societies, such as those started in St. Ebbe's in 1832 (fn. 307) and in Summertown, meeting at the Red Lion inn, in 1858, (fn. 308) did not survive long. The majority of those seeking insurance against want chose membership of affiliated branches of national societies. (fn. 309) An Oxford Women's Protective and Provident Society was formed, however, in 1882 and lasted until 1917. (fn. 310) The Oxford Parochial, District, and Provident Visiting Society, founded in 1834 'to encourage habits of providence among the poorer classes', ran a savings bank, deposits for which were collected by its visitors. The society was in difficulties in 1866 and closed between 1873 and 1888. (fn. 311) An Oxford Industrial and Provident Land and Building Society was formed in 1860 to finance the building of working men's cottages, to be offered by ballot to any member investing £20; estates were laid out by the society at Iffley, Hayfield Road, Marston Street, Fairacres, and Summertown. (fn. 312)
A Trustee Savings Bank on the same lines as that established in Bath was opened in Oxford in 1816. The managing committee of 30 included 19 university members and 2 nonconformists. (fn. 313) The city magistrates provided a room. (fn. 314) Three-quarters of the depositors in 1818 were servants, apprentices, or journeymen. (fn. 315) By July 1822 there were sufficient funds to buy a banking-house in St. Martin's parish on the west side of St. Aldate's. (fn. 316) It was replaced by a neo-gothic building of 1867 (no. 3 St. Aldate's Street), (fn. 317) which was sold to the city in 1899, when the bank closed. (fn. 318) In 1934 the Trustee Savings Bank re-opened at no. 40 George Street, (fn. 319) returning during the Second World War to its former site at Carfax; in 1959 new premises were built at no. 7 Market Street. (fn. 320)
A Co-operative Society existing in 1830 appears to have failed. A more sustained attempt to establish a co-operative movement in Oxford in 1861 was abandoned in 1863, except the land and building sectors. It was re-started in 1872 with help from members of the Banbury Society; the first meetings were held in the Jolly Post Boys in High Street, the meeting-place of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. The first shop was at no. 39 George Street and there were 293 members at the end of the first year. Branches were opened in east Oxford in 1873, Walton Street and Commercial Road, St. Ebbe's, in 1876, Summertown in 1880, Hurst Street, east Oxford, in 1886, and London Road, Headington, in 1892. New ventures of the early 20th century included the building of a large bakery in 1904 in Henry Road, Botley, a large range of shops in Cowley Road in 1907, and the new central stores on the George Street site in 1908. In 1914 membership was over 10,000, and thereafter the proliferation of branches kept pace with the expanding city. (fn. 321)
INNS, ALEHOUSES, AND TAVERNS.
The earliest known inn in Oxford was established shortly before 1200 when Mauger, a vintner, acquired three properties in Northgate Street, making a residence for scholars called Mauger's Hall, which became an inn at the beginning of Edward I's reign and survived as the Golden Cross. (fn. 322) In 1285 no fewer than nine Oxford vintners were amerced for selling wine against the assize, and in quantities which suggest high consumption. (fn. 323) In the poll-tax of 1381 only 10 innkeepers, 7 tapsters (all women), 3 taverners, and a vintner may be identified, but as many as 32 brewers; (fn. 324) presumably then, as later, there were numerous part-time beersellers who had some other principal occupation.
In the 16th century alehouse keepers were charged annually to keep to statutory weights and measures, to forbid unlawful games and eating and drinking during divine service, and to report at once any disloyal remarks. Although obliged to house travellers brought to them by a constable or other officer, they were not to keep 'petty hostelry' or lodge anyone without informing the authorities. (fn. 325) Suppressions were frequent for such offences as 'keeping evil persons' or because the keeper's wife was a recusant; 11 houses were suppressed immediately after the university Act of 1606, presumably a riotous occasion. (fn. 326) Keepers suffered from frequent university prohibitions on the entertainment of scholars at inns or alehouses without permission, (fn. 327) and were forced by by-laws of 1640 to stop up posterns and build up their back walls, so that none may 'on the sudden, leap or get over them' when the proctors visited. (fn. 328)
It was usual for an inn or alehouse to have a sign or distinguishing mark. From 1587 until 1766 the city kept a register which included licences for some 140 inn signs. It provides by no means a complete list of old inns; the Cross and the Fleur de Luce were not included but the Mitre and the Chequers were. Presumably registration applied only to new or projecting signs, which were regarded by the city in the same light as other encroachments. (fn. 329) Some of the signs were large and elaborate, such as those of the Ship inn and the West Country Barge in St. Aldates in the 18th century. (fn. 330) In 1616 every ale-house keeper within the city was ordered to paint his posts at the doors and windows 'or set some letter or other markers for distinction sake'. Later it was stipulated that the post or lattice should be painted red. (fn. 331) Attempted legisla tion against ale-house keepers who also followed other trades (fn. 332) was not successful.
Despite attempts by both city and university to restrict licensing, the number of inns and alehouses in the city appears to have increased during the late 16th and early 17th century out of proportion to the rise in population. Wood mentioned that there were c. 370 ale-houses in the city in 1678; in 1686 there were said to be 894 guest beds and stabling for 504 horses. (fn. 333) Reference has been found to some 140 named inns and public houses in the later 18th century (fn. 334) and in 1830 there were at least 136 public houses and 13 inns and posting-houses. (fn. 335) In 1844 there were some 400 licensed premises in Oxford, a proportion of one for every 60 inhabitants. (fn. 336)
Rents and fines indicate that a high point in the retail trade of wine was reached in the early 18th century. (fn. 337) Taverners prospered but were particularly vulnerable to the sanction of discommoning by the university since their trade was largely with scholars. It has been suggested (fn. 338) that the decline of the tavern was due to the greater use of college common rooms but other reasons were probably more important. In 1740 the taverners complained that their monopoly was broken; (fn. 339) whereas they had formerly supplied inns with wine, many of these were now laying in their own stocks and retailing it in small quantities to travellers and citizens; moreover other inns, alehouses, coffeehouses, and cooks' shops were being supplied with cheap wine from newly-established vaults, which were also supplying private houses. (fn. 340) In defence of the vaults it was argued that they were no threat to discipline, that they reduced prices which the university's privilege of granting licences inevitably helped to raise, and that in any case only poorer men would suffer from their closure since senior university members bought direct from London or Southampton. (fn. 341) The vaults were at Cornmarket, Carfax, and Holywell, and a survey of 1740 revealed that 27 inns and 13 coffee-houses sold wine, about a third of each laying it in by the pipe. (fn. 342) The vice-chancellor's threat to proceed against 'pretended vintners' in this year was probably ignored. (fn. 343) By mid-century the licensing of wine-retailers by the city had ended. In 1822 the university issued 40 licenses to wine-merchants, public houses, and coffee-houses and in 1890 the corporation licensed 46 wine-merchants or other shopkeepers and 105 publicans. (fn. 344)
The inns, taverns, and alehouses within the city walls were concentrated in the four streets meeting at Carfax, although some side streets also contained them. Well over a third of the house sites in Cornmarket Street were at some time occupied by inns or public houses, (fn. 345) and a similar proportion may be established for High Street, St. Aldates, and Queen Street. It may be noted, however, that there seem to have been no ancient inns in Queen Street or in the central side streets, although many inns or public houses appeared there in the 16th and 17th centuries. Outside the walls St. Giles' Street and Magdalen Street contained 20 identifiable sites, Broad Street and Holywell 20, St. Aldate's 13, St. Ebbe's and St. Thomas's 23, and George Street and Broken Hayes 9, besides in each case many public houses of uncertain location.
Only three ancient inns survived into the 20th century, the Golden Cross, the Mitre, and the Clarendon. The Cross was so named by the 15th century, being known in the 14th century as Gingiver's inn; it was held by Robert Tresilian, and after his execution was bought from the Crown by William of Wykeham in 1388, and given to New College. (fn. 346) The college arms survive in the spandrels of the gate. Royal commissioners stayed there regularly in the 14th century, and earls and princes in the later 17th century. (fn. 347) In the 16th century, although patronized by visiting gentry, (fn. 348) it appears to have been less fashionable than the Star and the Bear, but in the 17th and 18th centuries it was second only to the Angel. In 1825 it was sold by New College. The Mitre dates from c. 1310, when Philip Worminghall acquired two houses in High Street and several tenements in Turl Street which he turned into an inn with front and back entrances. It passed to William of Bicester and formed part of the endowment of his chantry in All Saints church, and so became Lincoln College property in the 15th century; (fn. 349) the name 'Mitre' was probably acquired from its connexion with the college, which used the arms of the see of Lincoln beneath a mitre. In the 17th century it was held by a succession of Roman Catholic landlords and was favoured by recusants. (fn. 350) The Star, so-called by 1469 and earlier known as Marshall's inn, was granted to Oseney abbey by Thomas the Marshall in 1337 and belonged successively to Oseney and Christ Church until 1863; it was then bought by the Clarendon Hotel company and continued as an hotel under that name until 1939, when it was purchased by Woolworth & Co., and demolished in 1954. (fn. 351) Although at that time much of the front and the extensive stabling dated from the early 19th century, the site included many remains of the ancient inn. (fn. 352)
Of the inns that were closed in the 19th century the most prominent was the Angel on the south side of High Street. In 1418 it was a small inn called the Tabard, leased from St. John's hospital, (fn. 353) but by the early 16th century, when Magdalen College owned it, it had been enlarged and was the Angel; in 1442 the lane behind it was closed, making it possible to build the ample stabling which the inn contained in the 19th century. Part of the site belonged to Oriel and University colleges, and its frontage was as much as 110 ft.; it appears to have been rebuilt or extended in 1663. (fn. 354) Princes and dukes stayed there in the late 17th century (fn. 355) and it remained the first inn of Oxford until 1866, when it was sold by Magdalen College to the university as part of the New Schools. (fn. 356) From 1585 meadows north-east of Magdalen Bridge were leased by the tenants of the Angel and Greyhound inns, (fn. 357) presumably to provide grazing for customers' horses; they still bear the names of the inns. In the heyday of coaching ten coaches started from the Angel at 8 o'clock each morning, and it remained the chief coaching inn throughout that era, although the Star, Mitre, Golden Cross, Ship, Vine, New Inn, Roebuck, and Three Cups also played their part. The decline of coaching in the mid 19th century was fatal to the Angel, as it was to the Star. (fn. 358)
The Bear stood in High Street opposite the Mitre, and was of similar size, extending down Alfred Street, where there was a back entrance. It was known as the Tabard in 1432 and the Bear in 1457. (fn. 359) By the mid 16th century, when it was held by Thomas Furse, it was the equal of the Star, and royal commissioners and circuit judges met there; in 1662 a son of the king of Denmark stayed there with a large company. (fn. 360) When sold in 1801 it contained 30 bedrooms and stabling for 30 horses; it was later divided into two tenements. (fn. 361) The name was taken by a public house at the other end of Alfred Street, formerly the Jolly Trooper. (fn. 362)
The New Inn, on the site of no. 26 Cornmarket Street, existed in 1396, had become the Crown by 1430 and the Blue Anchor by 1684, and it survived until 1895. (fn. 363) The Roebuck stood behind no. 8 Cornmarket Street and was connected with that street by an archway until it acquired the whole frontage c. 1850; it was known as Cary's inn in the 14th century, Coventry inn by 1531, and the Roebuck from 1623 until 1869. The site was later taken over by Woolworth & Co. (fn. 364) The Blue Boar inn was built at the corner of Blue Boar Lane c. 1550, and although it survived only until the early 19th century it was in the front rank in Wood's day, and the duke of Monmouth stayed there. The site was purchased by the city in 1864 and was used for part of the town hall. (fn. 365) The Fleur de Luce on the west side of St. Aldates (fn. 366) was prominent in the 14th century under the name of Battes inn, and royal justices and other dignitaries stayed there; (fn. 367) it was called the Fleur de Luce by 1514 but by the late 17th century was not a first-class inn, (fn. 368) and ceased to be an inn before 1804. (fn. 369)
On the west side of Cornmarket Street Drapery Hall, an inn in 1490, later became the King's Head and by 1625 the Crown inn; a public house of that name stood on the site in 1970. (fn. 370) An inn immediately to the north, Pyry Hall in 1498, also became the King's Head in the early 16th century, when it incorporated Sewy's Lane; (fn. 371) plays were performed in its galleried stableyard in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 372) In 1810 the inn was taken over by its northern neighbour, the Star. (fn. 373)
In the side streets probably the most important inns were the Ship in Ship Street, built c. 1756 and the scene of many fashionable entertainments; (fn. 374) the Maidenhead in Turl Street from 1607 until 1899; (fn. 375) the Nag's Head in King Street (1783-1907); (fn. 376) and the Coach and Horses in the same street (1661-1869), the most prominent of ten Oxford inns bearing that name. (fn. 377)
Of numerous ancient inns in the suburbs may be mentioned the Catherine Wheel (1402-c. 1829), (fn. 378) east of St. Mary Magdalen church, where Robert and Thomas Winter and Robert Catesby first discussed the Gunpowder Plot, where the Cavalier Plot of 1648 was hatched, and where in 1589 three papists, two of them priests, were arrested; (fn. 379) the Dolphin, which in the 15th century was a brewhouse, (fn. 380) was frequently the meeting-place of the Northgate hundred court in the 17th century, (fn. 381) and later became the site of the Dolphin building in St. John's College; and the George, at the northern corner of Magdalen Street and George Street, which was known as Pyper's in 1395 and 1514, and was also a meeting-place of the hundred court. When it was closed in 1855 its name was transferred to a public house on the opposite corner. (fn. 382) Outside the east gate, at the eastern corner of Longwall and High Street, was the Greyhound, opened in 1526 as the Cardinal's Hat and known as the Greyhound by 1546. It was pulled down in 1845. (fn. 383) In Holywell was the King's Arms, opened in 1607 and surviving in 1970; in the 17th century it was the most popular place for plays. (fn. 384) The Turf tavern, a 20th-century tourist attraction in Hell Passage, was the Spotted Cow in the late 18th century. (fn. 385) In the western suburbs was the Hollybush, on the site of the Royal Oxford Hotel, first mentioned in 1539 and rebuilt in 1771; it was sold to Hall's Brewery in 1840 and later became the Railway Hotel. (fn. 386) Antiquity Hall (later the Hole-in-the-Wall) in Hythe Bridge Street, depicted on Loggan's map of 1675, was patronized by Thomas Hearne and his friends. (fn. 387)
Of the wine taverns the longest-lived was the Swindlestock (i.e. flail), which was a tavern in 1279 and was the scene of the outbreak of the St. Scholastica's day riot in 1355. It stood at the south-west corner of Carfax and was known as the Mermaid in the later 17th century; it was pulled down c. 1708 in order to widen the street. (fn. 388) Other prominent taverns were the King's Head (nos. 10-12 High Street) from 1696 to 1752; (fn. 389) the Three Tuns (c. 1650 until 1750), later part of University College; (fn. 390) and no. 3 Cornmarket, which was a tavern from 1555, and was occupied from 1604 by John Davenant, Shakespeare's friend. In 1647 it was the Salutation but when that sign was transferred to High Street in 1651 it was renamed the Crown, and survived under that name until c. 1750. (fn. 391) The Tennis Court tavern (no. 105 High Street), to which Thomas Wood transferred the sign of the Salutation, ceased to be a tavern c. 1670 but became a prominent coffeehouse. (fn. 392) The taverns were popular as meeting-places of the clubs in the 18th century, the High Borlace patronizing the King's Head, the Constitutional Club the same tavern and later the Three Tuns, the Poetical Club the Three Tuns. (fn. 393)
The 13-century cellars belonging to the Swindlestock were used in the 18th and 19th century as wine-vaults, (fn. 394) and other vaults used were the medieval cellars on the north side of the town hall, formerly belonging to Knap Hall, known as the Falcon by the 15th century and the Castle in the 17th century. (fn. 395) The Swindlestock cellars were destroyed in the early 20th century. (fn. 396) It was the custom of Oxford vintners from 1630 onwards to sell their wine in bottles stamped with their own medallions, and those who kept a tavern usually showed the emblem of the tavern. (fn. 397) In the 17th century some taverners issued tokens also, such as Thomas Wood, vintner and dancing master at the High Street tennis court, whose token, two racquets, depicted one side of his business, and his sign, the Salutation (i.e. in fencing), another. (fn. 398)
The first known coffee-drinker in England was Nathaniel Conopius, a Cretan at Balliol College in 1637. (fn. 399) Oxford was also the first place in England to open a coffee-house when social coffeedrinking was introduced from the Near East, evidently by Jews re-admitted to the country by Cromwell. (fn. 400) In March 1651 one Jacob was selling coffee at the Angel inn to those who 'delighted in novelty'. (fn. 401) By 1654 Jacob had moved to London, but Cirques Jobson was offering coffee and chocolate at his house at the corner of Queen's Lane and High Street. (fn. 402) In 1655 Arthur Tillyard, an apothecary and noted royalist, opened a coffee-room at no. 90 High Street (presumably in the fine room on the first floor), (fn. 403) where 'virtuosi or wits', including Christopher Wren, used to congregate. (fn. 404) Later on it became the meeting place for Boyle and his friends, the nucleus of the Royal Society: lectures were given there during 1660-2 by Peter Stael. (fn. 405) Short's coffee-house, in 1660 on the site of the Sheldonian and in 1669 at the corner of Hell Passage, (fn. 406) had a library set up in 1668 by members of Christ Church, (fn. 407) and separate accommodation for masters and undergraduates. (fn. 408)
After 1660 coffee-houses multiplied, and by 1674 Wood was complaining of the decay of study in the university because scholars spent much of their day at coffee-houses, talking and reading frivolously. (fn. 409) In 1677 the vice-chancellor forbade the opening of coffee-houses on Sundays or the drinking of coffee in private houses, (fn. 410) but the order was widely disregarded. Coffee-houses were centres for political discussion, and some of the Oxford establishments figured in several incidents during the Jacobite riots of the early 18th century. (fn. 411) Ten licences to hang signs were taken out by coffee-house keepers between 1661 and 1756. (fn. 412) There were at least 13 coffee-houses in the city in 1740, all of them selling wine also, (fn. 413) and there were 11 signatures to a notice in the press in 1759 advertising a price-rise. (fn. 414) By the end of the century there were at least 20 coffee-houses, at some of which it was possible to dine, (fn. 415) but most had been closed by the 1840s. (fn. 416)
One of the most popular houses was at no. 104 High Street, formerly the Salutation tavern, which had become a coffee-house by 1676; (fn. 417) during the 18th century it was known variously as Hambleton's, Horseman's, or James's and existed in the early 19th century. (fn. 418) Another long-established coffee-house was built at the corner of Ship and Turl Streets after 1671; (fn. 419) it continued throughout the 18th century becoming eventually Dickeson's hotel and coffeehouse, and was sold in 1829 after three generations of the same family management. (fn. 420) There was a coffeehouse at the corner of Holywell, opposite the King's Arms from at least 1754. (fn. 421) It was known as Bagg's in the late 18th century (fn. 422) and as Seal's in the 19th. (fn. 423) It became a private house after 1844 (fn. 424) and was demolished to make way for the Indian Institute by 1882. (fn. 425)
LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS, GALLERIES.
Before the opening of the public library in 1854 there were several circulating libraries and reading-rooms, run at first chiefly by booksellers. James Fletcher, a leading bookseller in the city in the late 18th century, (fn. 426) founded a reading room c. 1783 for up to 50 subscribers; books were lent out and reviews and newspapers were available. (fn. 427) The Oxford Subscription Library was established in 1809 and was open to residents of Oxford and the neighbourhood and senior members of the university; in 1813 it was granted rent-free accommodation in the town hall. (fn. 428) The University, City and County reading room was first started in 1823 in High Street, and after several moves was re-established in Parker's bookshop in the Turl in 1831. (fn. 429) It was both a lending and reference library and four-fifths of the 125 subscribers were university men. In 1847 membership was reduced to 100. (fn. 430) The library moved with the bookshop to no. 27 Broad Street in the 1850s and was still in existence in 1907. (fn. 431) By 1893 Parker's had taken over Acock's bookshop at no. 21 Broad Street and with it the subscription library run there since 1874. (fn. 432)
Other lending libraries were established in the city during the 19th century. Wise's circulating library was opened by 1803. The reading room of the Oxford City Reading Society opened in 1831 for non-university members at no. 1 St. Aldates; it was also known as Plowman's reading room after one of the secretaries. (fn. 433) J. and R. Dewe, stationers in Broad Street, also ran a circulating library in the 1830s and the Oxford Church of England library and reading room at no. 121 High Street had 182 members in 1848. (fn. 434) The Churchman's Union had a library and reading room behind the White Hart in Broad Street in 1876. (fn. 435)
A public library in the town hall was opened by the corporation in 1854, providing reading room and reference facilities on weekdays and Sunday evenings. It started with 1,650 volumes but had to rely on gifts to increase the stock. Magazines and newspapers were provided by private subscription. Over 100,000 people attended during the first year. The lending section, which started in 1857, was open for ten hours a day in 1866 to meet the demand. Management by the Local Board, however, which took over the library in 1865, was very lax. The library was returned to the control of the corporation in 1889, and accommodation was specially designed as part of the new municipal buildings. A local history collection started in 1890 and a Braille library in 1906; this was transferred to the National Library for the Blind in 1927, when a general re-organization attempted unsuccessfully to remedy the inadequacy of accommodation which had already become apparent by 1911. (fn. 436)
After a petition from Summertown residents a reading room was opened in George Street, Summertown in 1895; it was closed in 1916. In 1929 the City Library took over the running of library depots in Wolvercote and Iffley, and opened Cowley depot in 1931. The first branch library was at Bury Knowle, Headington in 1932, followed by Temple Cowley in 1940, replacing the former depot. Donnington depot replaced that at Iffley in 1938, and new depots were opened at Marston and Summertown in 1940, and St. Barnabas's in 1952. (fn. 437) A new branch library was built at Summertown in 1961, and at Blackbird Leys in 1968. (fn. 438)
In spite of the opening of branch and depot libraries demands on the central library continued to increase. The redevelopment of St. Ebbe's provided the opportunity for a new central library in the Westgate Centre; it was opened in 1973 and provided large open areas for the lending and reference sections, important local history and special collections, and rooms for exhibitions and private study. After local government reorganization in 1974 the library became the county library. (fn. 439)
James Fletcher, the bookseller, owned a small museum in 1790, (fn. 440) and there was a big-game hunting museum at no. 12 Woodstock Road in the early 20th century; (fn. 441) otherwise the city saw little need to augment the university institutions such as the Ashmolean until the mid 20th century. In 1964 a joint city and county museum was opened at Woodstock, and in 1975 a city museum in the former library building was opened. The Museum of Modern Art, opened in Pembroke Street in 1966, was an independent educational charity managed by a council drawn from both university and town. (fn. 442)
NEWSPAPERS. (fn. 443)
Oxford's first newspaper, other than various news-sheets published there during the Civil War and during the Parliament of 1681, (fn. 444) was the Oxford Flying Weekly Journal and Cirencester Gazette, published by Robert Walker of London and William Jackson in September 1746. (fn. 445) The paper, at first printed in St. Clement's and then in High Street, seems to have closed in 1748. (fn. 446)
William Jackson, however, seized the opportunity provided by the county election struggle of 1753, and in April of that year published News, Boys, News, or the Electioneering Journal, which soon became Jackson's Oxford Journal, the longest-lasting Oxford newspaper. (fn. 447) Jackson was a banker, the lessee of the Oxford Bible Press, and a Conservative; in 1786 he was given the freedom of the city and a bailiff's place. (fn. 448) His paper was published weekly from his High Street office, and at first contained four pages and cost 2d. On his death in 1795 it was sold to Mary Jones, (fn. 449) and at her death in 1816 passed to its printers Grosvenor and Hall at their Carfax office. William Hall became sole proprietor in 1824 and the paper remained in the Hall family ownership until 1899. In the period April-September 1839 some 57,000 copies were sold compared with the 33,000 by the nearest rival, the Oxford Chronicle. Thomas Plowman, editor and general manager for several years until 1883, described the Carfax printing-office as too archaic to contend, but stressed the efficiency of the local news coverage, agents acting as correspondents in every small town in the district. (fn. 450) Sir Hugh Hall, the proprietor, succeeded Plowman as editor, and sold the paper to the Oxford Times Company in 1899; it continued unchanged until 1909, when it became the Oxford Journal Illustrated, a paper of 16 pages and many photographs, costing 1d. In 1928, when the company launched a daily evening paper, the Oxford Evening Times, the Oxford Journal Illustrated was discontinued, its traditions maintained by a special weekly supplement in the new paper. (fn. 451)
The Oxford University and City Herald was a weekly paper first published in 1806 by Henry Slatter and Joseph Munday from an office in High Street; it contained four pages and cost 6d. In 1833 the younger Joseph Munday and Richard Turner were publishing the paper at Slatter's bookshop in High Street and an office in Queen Street. In 1835 the Oxford Conservative was incorporated with it, and although that paper claimed to hold opinions wholly opposed to the Herald's (fn. 452) the two papers were on the same side politically. The Herald's circulation between April and September 1839 was c. 29,000. In 1852 it was published and owned by Joseph Vincent, of no. 90 High Street, and it was still in the Vincent family when discontinued in 1892. It changed its name twice, becoming the Oxford University, City and County Herald in January 1838 and the Oxford University Herald in March 1852. Its closure was due mainly to the death of Canon Chamberlain, vicar of St. Thomas's parish, who had been editor for ten years.
The Oxford City and County Chronicle was first published in 1837 by Henry Cooke, and printed at his office at no. 127 High Street; Henry Alden, another printer, was associated in the production of the paper, which contained four pages and cost 5d. The Chronicle quickly established itself as the Liberal organ for both city and county. In 1842 it was renamed the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette and was published in both Oxford and Reading. In 1845 it became the Oxford Chronicle and Berks. and Bucks. Gazette and by 1869 was published by Henry Cooke from an office at no. 1 St. Aldates. In 1891 the printers were the Oxford Chronicle Co. and the publisher and editor was Henry James. The newspaper maintained its Liberal tradition in politics, but in 1929 was taken over by the Oxford Times Company and discontinued.
The Oxford Times and Midland Counties Advertiser was first published by Joseph Plowman in 1862. It had eight pages and cost 2d., half the price of the existing Oxford newspapers. It was intended to be a weekly family newspaper which, while claiming to belong to no political party, declared support for 'the great constitutional party of England in Church and State'. (fn. 453) In 1867 it was in financial difficulties and a company, including some university men, purchased it and the Banbury Herald as 'the only outspoken organs of the Conservative party in the district'; the two newspapers were amalgamated (fn. 454) but the company was not a success and the paper was sold in 1868 to George Rippon, who also acted as editor. (fn. 455) In 1881 the Oxford Times Company was formed with Rippon as managing director, followed later (1901-26) by his son Claude. The paper continued to support the Conservative party until 1929, when the Liberal Oxford Chronicle was incorporated with it. The company declared that the days of strong political partisanship in local newspapers were over and the Oxford Times became a non-party paper. In 1929 the company was taken over by the Stamer Group, later the Westminster Press. (fn. 456)
The Oxford Mail, a daily evening paper, was first published in November 1928 by the Counties Press, New Inn Hall Street; it contained at least eight pages of world and local news and cost 1d. The Oxford Times Co. began to publish, the following week, the Oxford Evening Times, a daily paper of the same size and price. In March 1929 the proprietors of both newspapers agreed to publish in association one daily evening paper. (fn. 457) The paper was named the Oxford Mail and was printed and published at Newspaper House, New Inn Hall Street. Thereafter the Oxford Mail and Times Co. controlled both the only daily and the only weekly local newspaper, until the revival in the 1970s of free circulation newspapers, notably the Oxford Journal, which consciously adopted the name of the city's oldest successful newspaper and was first published in 1973.
There were many short-lived Oxford newspapers. Most were published weekly or monthly and had political or religious affiliations or consisted mainly of advertisements. (fn. 458)