24–31: Brasenose College new buildings
These Brasenose College buildings that face the High Street are not as old as they look: they were designed by the well-known later Victorian architect T. G. Jackson. The three bays on the left in the above picture date from 1911, and the tower and the four bays to the right from 1887. Both parts are Grade II listed (1911 section ref. 1485/319M, 1887 section 1485/319J).
Brasenose demolished seven shops and Amsterdam Court in order to build its New Quadrangle stretching down to the High. The picture on the left shows the same scene before 1911, when only four of the seven bays were built.
At the time of the 1851 census Jane Ryman (her husband apparently absent for the night) lived over Nos. 24 and 25 with two servants. Ryman’s, who had occupied Nos. 24 and 25 since before 1846, retreated into No. 23 when their old pair of shops was demolished by Brasenose College in 1909.
Edward Bracher the photographer lived over No. 26 with his wife, two little children and two servants. At the age of 14, Henry Taunt, the famous Victorian/Edwardian photographer, started his photographic career here with Bracher. In c.1865 Bracher sold the business to Wheeler & Day and it was transferred to 106 High Street, but Taunt remained at No. 26 as their photographic manager for a short period. By 1866, however, the shop had been taken over by R. E. Farrant, a turner and brushman, and Taunt had moved to a shop of his own in Cornmarket. In 1874 he moved to 9–10 Broad Street, but moved back to the High Street in 1894 when the lease ran out, spending a year or so at No. 41 and then moving to No. 34.
Edward Bracher’s photographic business was purchased by Wheeler & Day, Booksellers, in 1865 and transferred to 106 High Street.
Mrs Susan Tester (whose husband also seems to have been away) lived over No. 27 with her son (a partner in the family fishmonger business), two daughters, and a servant. The Testers, who had started business in this shop before 1836 remained there until it was demolished in 1876. Their family tomb is in the churchyard of All Saints, and reads:
Samuel Tester, died 1 May 1879, aged 86. Susan wife of Samul Tester died 20 April 1854, aged 67. John son of Samuel & Susan Tester, died 16 August 1845, aged 27. Elizabeth Whiting, daughter of Samuel & Susan Tester, died 25 Ocotber 1880 aged 58 years. Also Robert, son of Samuel & Susan Tester, died 30 March 18– aged 68 years.
Amsterdam Court (or simply “Amsterdam” as it is usually described in directories) was a narrow passage which ran between 25 and 26 High Street until 1911. Originally it stretched back almost to Lincoln College, but in the 1820s Brasenose cut it off roughly level with its chapel. It now lies under the west side of the New Quadrangle, and the passage between Staircases XI and XII is called Amsterdam in its memory. Anthony Wood first mentions Amsterdam in May 1667, and in July 1671 he writes of two visiting Benedictine monks, “Their lodging was in Allsaints parish, in the back-side housing called Amsterdam.”
The detail from an 1814 Oriel College plan below shows the shops that once stood on this site. On the left is No. 25 (Sewell), next to the entrance to Amsterdam Court, and after the gap comes No. 26 (Cox), and No. 27 (Tester),: all three are still listed at these shops in Robson’s Directory of 1839. Then come No. 28 (Spiers), No. 29 (Barrett), No. 30 (the Lodgings of the Principal of Brasenose College), and 31 (Sindry) in front of the Oxford Arms pub in St Mary’s passage.
| Occupiers of the site, 1814–1911|
Grey background = former buildings on this site, now demolished
Ladies’ shoe maker
|Spiers||Barrett||Lodgings of the Principal of Brasenose College||Sindey|
Mercer & Shirtmaker
Boot & shoemaker
|Mrs K. Standen
|1852– 1861||James Ryman
Carver & gilder, Printseller
Hatter, mercer & tailor later Standen & Co.
Stationer & fancy warehouseman
Henry Carter (1861)
Printseller, publisher, & frame maker
Berlin wool repository
Hair cutter & stationer
Tailors & robe makers
Print sellers & publishers
A. E. Stew|
Berlin wool repository
| Since 1911 ||1911|