Witney Street (south): Nos 18 and 20
The blocked doorway left of centre shows that No. 18 was once a pair of cottages, erected probably in the mid 17th century. The original cottages were mirror images, each with a single room on the ground floor and heated by a deep fireplace in the gable wall. Also in the thickness of the wall was a winder staircase to the first floor, with a further one to the attic room. The front doorway is of c.1700, with 18th-century sash windows to first floor; the bay window to the right is probably early 19th-century. Later 19th-century occupants included a confectioner, plasterer, baker, and blacksmith.
The present right gable-wall looks like a buttress and has no chimney stack. This is because the adjoining house (No. 16) was demolished at some stage and its land used as a builders’ yard: the end wall of No. 18 was presumably rebuilt to make it self-supporting, without the fireplaces and staircase which would have weakened it. As this would have removed all heating from the right-hand cottage, the pair presumably became a single house at the same time (c.1900).
The adjoining No. 20 (below) has a rubblestone front of c.1800, though the doorframe is late 20th-century. Nineteenth-century occupants included the builder and insurance agent James Wickens (1851–81) and solicitor’s clerk W.G. Burton (by 1891).
(Photos by Richard Shaw, Oxfordshire Buildings Record)