This hidden gem in the middle of Cornmarket Street contains stunning Elizabethan wall-paintings, conserved by Oxford Preservation Trust.

Oxford's best kept secret

It is easy to miss, or dismiss 3 Cornmarket Street, the home of the Painted Room. To find it you must look beyond a later 18th-century façade, the general hubbub of a city, a Vodafone shop and a Betfred, all doing their best to disguise this treasure. Climb the stairs and beyond this, a magical experience awaits,  where you are transported back in time to the 14th-century timber-framed Crown Tavern, complete with oak-panelled walls, an ancient brickwork fireplace, and stunning Elizabethan wall paintings.  As if this is not enough, it is also the place where William Shakespeare stayed on his trips from London to Stratford-upon-Avon.  

Sign in the painted room

Look inside with the virtual tour

Visiting the Painted Room

We do our best to open the Painted Rooms as much as possible and hold regular tours in the Painted Room, for both members and non-members. The Painted Room is also open for our annual Oxford Open Doors event. For private tours, group bookings, or video hire, email

A woman standing in the painted room with a sheet of paper in her hand, talking to visitors.

Discovering the wall paintings

These rare examples of Elizabethan wall paintings have a history all of their own.  They date from around 1580 when it was fashionable to paint walls in this way. By 1600 the fashion had changed, and the wall paintings were covered and forgotten for over 300 years. It is not until 1927, when Oxford businessman and gentleman’s outfitter, Mr. E. W Attwood, carries out some work on the caretaker’s flat – and the paintings are revealed! Imagine his surprise and how lucky that he realised their importance and called in the experts. The paintings were restored, and the panelling put on rollers. A lot of the building was lost at this time and some of the wall paintings were removed to the Ashmolean, and later placed on the wall in the Oxford Museum in the Town Hall (currently closed). OPT was set up in the same year as the wall paintings were discovered and Mr. Attwood was a Trustee and gave us our first offices, where we remained until we moved to St. Ebbe’s to our Turn Again Lane offices in the 1970s. Sir John Betjeman was the OPT Secretary in the 1940s and had his office in the Painted Room.

Painted Room wall paintings


In 2018 we secured a lease with the support of the Eyre Estate, who own the building, and heritage consultants, Nick Worlledge Associates became our tenants in the upper rooms above the Painted Rooms providing helpful funding. We are grateful for the support of Historic England, the William Delafield Charitable Trust, Oxford University TORCH, CPRE Oxfordshire Buildings Preservation Trust and the Leche Trust, whose funds have allowed us to find out more and do the necessary works needed to save them for future generations.   

We have been able to hold Symposiums with experts, work with Oxford Archaeology on a Conservation Management Plan, Dr Oliver Cox,  Dr Kathy Davies on the wall paintings, and Prof Emma Smith on the links with Shakespeare.  Dan Miles and the University have carried out Dendrochronology (analysis of the growth rings of a tree) and Professor Stephen Harris, of Plant Sciences has helped us on the significance and symbolism of the flowers in the wall decoration.