Walton Lane

Walton Lane
Walton Lane

Walton Lane provided rear access for servants and tradesmen.

Posted - January 15, 2013

Walton Lane was laid out as a service road behind the terraced houses facing Walton Street between Worcester Place and the Oxford University Press premises. It was built to provide rear access to the houses for the servants and tradesmen, through which coal and other commodities could be delivered. Some tenants also had their own carriages kept in a coach house backing on to the lane and livery horses would be hired from a nearby stables to draw these whenever they were needed. Often manservants would be housed in rooms above the coach house.

Between Worcester Place and Worcester Terrace, as Richmond Road was first called, workmen’s cottages abutted the lane on its west side. Beyond these were fields. North of Worcester Terrace lay Smith’s Close, a walled paddock adjoining the lane and extending westward to approximately the present junction of Walton Crescent and Richmond Road where the southern wall, reaching from Worcester College grounds to the University Press, cut off access to the streets leading down to the canal and Jericho. Much of the west end of the modern Richmond Road lay within the Close as well as the northern side of the street. The entrance to the Close was from Walton Street, just opposite the junction with Little Clarendon Street. The Close was probably built to provide secure stabling for valuable livery or carriage horses. A well matched pair of carriage horses was something of a luxury and needed to be kept within convenient call for which, if they belonged to a member of St. John’s College or someone living in St. Giles, Smith’s Close was very well placed. Because such horses were not in constant use they needed a paddock as well as stables. Tradition also has it that the apprentice printers who lived-in at the University Press would climb over into the Close to settle disputes privately by fighting.

William Wilkinson was called in to lay out Walton Crescent before the land was put up for long term lease to speculative builders in 1863. Both the new road and Worcester Terrace were affected, as Worcester Terrace north side also became available for development. The mixture of villas and 3-storey houses in both roads have the same architectural features of polychromatic brickwork, bay windows and tiling characteristic of mid-Victorian domestic architecture. It was not until 1876 that the south wall was finally demolished. Walton Crescent and were Richmond Road united and small artisan style houses built near the junction.

Now the coach houses on Walton Lane have now been converted into garages and infilling is taking place as old workshops are converted into private houses. The back road for the servants is now a fashionable mews.

Did you know?

Where the name Jericho comes from?

The name Jericho is probably taken from the parable of the Good Samaritan. Traditionally the name was given to places where travellers who arrived after the town gates had closed at sunset could find lodgings overnight.

Who owns the houses?

In Jericho in 2011, only 21% of households were owner occupiers. Instead, many more people rented their homes: 58% from private landlords and 20% from ‘social’ landlords, mostly the City Council.