Shops and public houses in Finstock ... and a Murder ...


Finstock used to have three shops. One was in School Road and at one time was a Fish and Chip shop, run by Tommy Franklin who I believe came
from Birmingham. The second was in The Bottom and was run, with the Post Office, by Mrs. Dore and her two daughters Nellie and Meeme. There was a third shop at the Crown Public House which sold sweets, sugar and tea, but was mostly run as an off-licence.

There were two other Cottage Shops which I can remember. One was run by Mrs. Harris who lived where David Pratley lives now, up the High Street, and was, I believe, his grandmother; they also sold fruit. My first banana came from there. The other shop was run by Harry Woolford, who was my uncle, my mother's elder brother. He sold cigarettes, tobacco, tea, sweets and chocolate. (See photo above which shows the licence to sell tobacco and cigarettes.)

The coming of the war saw the end of these little shops, except for The Crown which continued as an off-licence.
The Waterloo Arms, which was at the crossroads at the top of the High Street, had a licence to sell beer and spirits, and is now turned into houses. Mr. Howse, who used to have the Waterloo Arms, also had a blacksmiths shop. I have very happy memories of spending time, as a boy, pumping the bellows on his forge, making his fire burn away. I used to take our cart horse there for him to shoe. The horse would kick at Mr. Howse, but it didn't seem to worry him, but how I hated that horse. Mr. Howse had a pocket watch that he bought from a soldier in the First World War which worked by a chain which ran around the outside of the case. He had a great deal of patience to put up with me running around his forge and burning his fire away.

In the fifties, the forge went and in its place Cyril, Mr. Howse's son, had a petrol station and shop. It is said the Waterloo Arms lost its licence to sell beer and spirits on the premises because Finstock and Leafield men used to meet there and fight -- and a Leafield man died in a fight in Pound Bottom on Leafield Road. But no one seems to have ever been held responsible, but it could have been murder. One for Shaun to look into perhaps!


  1. Hello Roy i was reading the articale you wrote and i have been trying to trace my family tree. My Mother came from oxfordshire her name was Kathleen Woolford and she married Thomas Randall in 1940 in Witney. My Father was based in oxfordshire with the army.I have been told i still have relatives in oxfordshire, witney, finstock. I Have been trying to trace them.

  2. I've been researching my family tree and it would seem my great great grandfather? Stephen Langford was the innkeeper/shopkeeper of the crown on School Road around 1901 - 1903+. On the wedding certificate of my grandmother and grandfather one of the witnesses was a Lilian Edith Dore/Dorn? I wondered if there was a Lilian in respect of the Dore mentioned above? It would seem he also (per the 1911 census) was at the Rose and Crown at Market Street, Charlbury. If this rings bells with anyone??

  3. If you would like to contact Roy Townsend, please email:

  4. There was another cottage shop in the High Street in the early 1930s higher up and on the opposite side to Harry Woolford, it was run by a Mrs Edwards, her son married one of the Welton daughters. Harry Woolford was also the village photogeapher in those days, he taught me how to develop and print photographs in the late 1930s.

  5. My gt-gt-grandfather remarried in 1899 in Orange, NSW Australia, to a widow (Sarah Ann nee SHEPHERD) who had previously been married in Finstock. Her occupation was given as "Nurse", her first husband was a Joshua Egra EDEN, and the wedding was somewhere in the period 1865-1870 (uncertain because of conflicting sources of info.). I believe she was born in Northleigh, Oxfordshire 1835-1840 (same conflict).
    I would greatly appreciate any information or leads on the couple's respective family histories or after they married. I haven't been able to find a death record for Joshua in NSW, so don't know if they came to Australia together or he pre-deceased her migration. Sarah's death certificate states "1st Marriage 30 years".
    If you have any info, please contact me on

    thank you
    Garry Newton, Canberra, Australia

  6. My second Great Grandmother, Charlotte Langford, appears in Finstock in the 1911 census. She is living on Finstock High Street and is working as a ‘shopkeeper Grocery and General.’ I assume she was probably working from home as she was a widow with two children still living with her – and it was unlikely she’d have been able to travel far.

    I’d be grateful for any information, Thank you

    Lauren Buckingham (Fine Artist)

  7. Whoops, Charlotte Langford was her maiden name. Her married name was actually Charlotte Oliver.

    Lauren Buckingham

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