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Cornmarket Street

cornmarket street, corn market street cork 1800s

Cornmarket Street in 2007 Cornmarket seen from the south, 2004; notice the newly installed benches of unusual shape Cornmarket Street seen from the north Broad Street end, 2009, with Tom Tower, Christ Church, in the far background Night view, looking north up Cornmarket The Lloyds Bank building on the corner of Cornmarket left and the High Street right

Cornmarket Street often called just Cornmarket or historically The Corn by Oxonians is a major shopping street and pedestrian precinct in Oxford, England that runs north-south between Carfax Tower and Magdalen Street

To the east is the small Golden Cross arcade of small jewellery and craft shops in a historic courtyard, leading to the Covered Market To the west is the indoor Clarendon Shopping Centre that connects in an L-shape to Queen Street

Cornmarket was pedestrianised in 1999 In 2002, it was voted Britain's second worst street in a poll of listeners to the Today programme1 The rating was due largely to the first attempt to repave the street in 2001 This work was a failure as the granite setts, which had been laid extensively, cracked and the contractor went into liquidation In 2003 it was repaved again and new benches installed, amidst reports of budgetary problems

History of shopsedit

26–28 Cornmarket on the corner of Ship Street is a 14th-century timber-framed building2 It is the surviving half of a building completed in about 1386 as the New Inn2 It belongs to Jesus College and was investigated and restored in 19833

Boswells of Oxford established what is now the largest department store in Oxford at 50 Cornmarket Street in 1738 In 1928 the shop opened a new main entrance on Broad Street, but it still retains an entrance on Cornmarket Street

The Victorian photographer Henry Taunt set up a shop at 33 Cornmarket Street in 1869 It was a small shop and in 1874 he moved to larger premises in Broad Street

Woolworth's bought the historic Clarendon Hotel on the west side of the street in 1939 to demolish it and build a new store on the site4 Thomas Sharp, in his report Oxford Replanned for Oxford City Council, warned that Oxford was already short of quality hotel accommodation and the Clarendon's demolition would be a mistake4 Notwithstanding Sharp's advice, Woolworth's demolished the hotel in 1954–555 In earlier centuries the Clarendon had been the Star Inn It was a complex of 16th- and 17th-century buildings, one of which had a vaulted Norman cellar dating from the second half of the 12th century: possibly the oldest vaulted structure in Oxford6 After demolition of all the buildings above the surface, parts of the 12th-century vault were destroyed to make way for one of the columns of Clarendon House built in its place7

Clarendon House was designed by William Holford and built in 1956–578 The façade is of coursed and squared rubble masonry with panels of blue-green slate, and Nikolaus Pevsner commended the building as tactful and elegant8 The building is now part of the Clarendon Shopping Centre

St Michael at the Northgateedit

The Saxon tower of St Michael at the Northgate in Cornmarket Street

The tower of the Church of England parish church of St Michael at the Northgate is the oldest building in Oxford It is Saxon and dates from about 1000–10509 The church is named after the medieval gate of Oxford's city walls that spanned the north end of Cornmarket

Near this church was the Bocardo Prison, where the Oxford Martyrs were imprisoned in 1555–56 before being burnt at the stake outside the town wall in what is now Broad Street nearby

Adjoining streetsedit

  • Broad Street
  • George Street
  • High Street
  • Magdalen Street
  • Market Street
  • Queen Street
  • St Aldate's
  • St Michael's Street
  • Ship Street


  1. ^ "Britons name 'best and worst streets'" BBC 20 September 2002 Retrieved 10 January 2008 
  2. ^ a b Munby 1992, p 245
  3. ^ Munby 1992, p 253
  4. ^ a b Sharp 1948, p 71
  5. ^ Jope 1958, p 1
  6. ^ Jope 1958, p 20–22
  7. ^ Jope 1958, p 4
  8. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p 312
  9. ^ Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p 294

Sources and further readingedit

  • Jope, E M 1958 "The Clarendon Hotel Oxford Part I The Site" Oxoniensia Oxford Architectural and Historical Society XXIII: 1–83 
  • Leeds, ET 1936 "A Second Elizabethan Mural Painting at No 3, Cornmarket Street, Oxford" Oxoniensia Oxford Architectural and Historical Society I: 144–150 
  • Munby, Julian 1992 "Zacharias's: a 14th Century Oxford New Inn and the Origins of the Medieval Urban Inn" Oxoniensia Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society LVII: 245–309 
  • Pantin, WA 1958 "The Clarendon Hotel Oxford Part II: The Buildings" Oxoniensia Oxford Architectural and Historical Society XXIII: 84–129 
  • Rouse, E Clive 1972 "Some 16th and 17th Century Domestic Paintings in Oxford" Oxoniensia Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society XXXVII: 198–207 
  • Sharp, Thomas 1948 Oxford Replanned London: The Architectural Press 
  • Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus 1974 Oxfordshire The Buildings of England Harmondsworth: Penguin Books pp 311–312 ISBN 0-14-071045-0 
  • Sturdy, David; Munby, Julian 1985 "Early Domestic Sites in Oxford: Excavations in Cornmarket and Queen Street, 1959–1962" Oxoniensia Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society L: 47–94 
  • Tyack, Geoffrey 1998 Oxford An Architectural Guide Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press pp 2, 5, 23, 24, 47, 83, 175–177, 263, 264, 329 ISBN 0-19-817423-3 

Coordinates: 51°45′11″N 1°15′29″W / 51753°N 1258°W / 51753; -1258

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