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Merton Street is a historic and picturesque cobbled street in central
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
, England.Merton StreetHigh Street, Oxford
It joins the
High Street High Street is a common street name for the primary business street of a city, town, or village, especially in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Br ...
at its northeastern end, between the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (together with the Examination Schools) and the Eastgate Hotel at the historic east gate of the city. It then runs east–west, parallel and to the south of the High Street for most of its length.


Location

Merton College Merton College (in full: The House or College of Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford) is one of the Colleges of Oxford University, constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the ...
, one of Oxford's older colleges, is situated to the south of the street. To the west of Merton, Corpus Christi College, one of Oxford's smallest colleges, also fronts onto the street. At the very western end, actually in Oriel Square, is an entrance to Christ Church, Oxford's largest college. At the eastern end can be found the notorious 'Pink House', as well as an entrance to
University College In a number of countries, a university college is a college institution that provides tertiary education but does not have full or independent university status. A university college is often part of a larger university. The precise usage varies ...
. Logic Lane (through University College, which backs onto the street) and Magpie Lane, both narrow lanes, lead off the street to the north. Also located here is the Merton Street tennis court, a rare example of an extant
real tennis Real tennis – one of several games sometimes called "the sport of kings" – is the original List of racquet sports, racquet sport from which the modern game of tennis (also called "lawn tennis") is derived. It is also known as court ...
court. To the south is Merton Grove (opposite Magpie Lane), providing pedestrian access between Merton College and Corpus Christi College to Christ Church Meadow to the south. The street is designated the A420 due to the blockage of the High Street to normal traffic. To the west it continues through Oriel Square, where
Oriel College Oriel College () is Colleges of the University of Oxford, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Located in Oriel Square, the college has the distinction of being the oldest royal foundation in Oxford (a title forme ...
is located. Despite being cobbled, the street has been repaired by
Oxford City Council Oxford City Council is the lower-tier local government authority for the city of Oxford in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west ...
using
asphalt Asphalt, also known as bitumen (, ), is a sticky, black, highly viscosity, viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a Pitch (resin), pitch. Before the ...
.


History

The part of modern-day Merton Street adjoining the High Street used to be known as Coach & Horses Lane, named after a public house on the west side of the lane. From the early 18th to the late 19th century, it became known as King Street. The rest of the street (the part running east–west) was originally known as St John Baptist's Street, named after the church which is now Merton College's chapel. In 1751, the whole street had become King Street, but by 1772 just the east–west part was called Merton Street. The entire street became known as Merton Street only in the 20th century.


Notable residents

Siegfried Sassoon Siegfried Loraine Sassoon (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an English war poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front (World War I), Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World ...
briefly took rooms in no 14 during 1919, on the recommendation of
Lady Ottoline Morrell Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell (16 June 1873 – 21 April 1938) was an English Aristocracy (class), aristocrat and society hostess. Her patronage was influential in artistic and intellectual circles, where she befriended writers including ...
. Jean Moorcroft Wilson, ''Siegfried Sassoon: the Journey from the Trenches'' (Duckworth, 2003) p33 The historian Michael Brock (1920–2014) and his wife (and co-editor) Eleanor lived in the street in the early 1950s. The academic and author J. R. R. Tolkien had rooms in Merton Street towards the end of his life in the early 1970s.


Gallery

File:Merton Street looking towards Merton College.jpg, Looking down Merton Street, at the corner with Oriel Square, looking east towards
Merton College Merton College (in full: The House or College of Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford) is one of the Colleges of Oxford University, constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the ...
. File:Oxford Winter.jpg, Looking east along Merton Street from the south side at the junction with Magpie Lane.


References


External links

* {{coord , 51.7514, -1.2518, scale:10000_region:GB, display=title Streets in Oxford Cobbled streets Merton College, Oxford Corpus Christi College, Oxford University College, Oxford J. R. R. Tolkien