Jericho Tavern

Jericho Tavern, Walton Street
Jericho Tavern, Walton Street

Jericho's first landmark

Posted - December 26, 2012

This pub on Walton Street has had a number of names. Originally the Jericho House, it has also been known in recent years as the Jericho, and the Philanderer and Firkin.

Anthony Wood in 1688 records visiting the House on his way to Port Meadow. The House he knew was probably built around 1650. Even so that building may well have replaced an earlier inn on the same site. For the name, derived from the parable of the Good Samaritan, was often given to an inn on the outskirts of a city where belated travellers, arriving after the city gates had closed at sunset, could find a bed.

For three ancient trackways crossed Port Meadow to its exit at Aristotle Lane into Oxford via Walton Street. Travellers from the west, before the Botley causeway was completed in 1541, could either cross the Thames by a series of fords, ferries and causeways to Osney Island and the West Gate, or they could turn north after Botley bridge, towards Binsey and Medley Ford, then over Port Meadow to Walton Street. Two other roads from the north and northwest also crossed the Meadow from Wolvercote, one from the old palace of Woodstock through Bladon and Yarnton, the other through Kidlington and the Cherwell valley. It was along this route to Bladon that Charles I escaped from Oxford in 1644 with 6,000 men under the noses of the Parliamentarian troops. Most of the travellers using this old route were peddlers and packmen and as carts superseded packhorses all these old tracks fell gradually out of use.

For travellers coming in via Port Meadow an inn hard by Walton Manor House was equally well placed for either the North or West gates of the borough. As carts replaced packhorses and the roads became safer growing disuse of the old trackways was compounded by the diversion of the main flow of the Thames from the Seacourt, or Shire, Stream to its present channel. This made several of the old fords impassable and substantially made the tracks impassable also.

The three-storey building of Jericho House was erected in 1818 as an inn at the time when the remains of Beaumont Palace were being cleared so that Beaumont Street could be opened. It has long since ceased to serve as an inn but has flourished with the development of Jericho. Like so many public houses in the area it has always provided entertainment as it still does, together with live music. Having installed soundproofing so that neighbours are not disturbed, the Jericho Tavern became a regular venue for gigs, and notably the birthplace of bands such as Radiohead and Supergrass.

Did you know?

The origins of Nelson Street?

Nelson Street takes its name from a local pub, the Lord Nelson, subsequently renamed Carpenters’ Arms—which has since been converted to housing.

Who has a car?

According to the 2001 Census, only 47% of Jericho households have a car compared with 67% for Oxford as a whole.