GILL & Co, the High Street shop that claims to be England’s oldest ironmonger, is shutting down after 480 years’ trading in Oxford.

The store has been open through the reigns of 20 monarchs, 76 Prime Ministers, the English Civil War and two World Wars.

But it has been unable to survive the rise of mega-hardware chains like B&Q and Homebase, as well as the recession.

Last night, Gill’s latest owner, 48-year-old Victor Hunt, said he would be closing its doors in Wheatsheaf Yard next month.

It originally opened in 1530 off Cornmarket during the reign of Henry VIII and will be the latest independent store to shut in the city.

Mr Hunt said: “The shop has been here for over 50 years and Gill’s is the oldest ironmonger’s in England, so we are coming to the end of an era.

“Sales have declined in recent years and we are moving out before we start to lose money.

“Our client base is 45+, and some of the customers are considerably older than that. Inevitably, as time goes by, we lose a few.

“The younger customers seem happier these days to drive to B&Q and other out-of-town stores.”

The shop sells a wide range of household items including tools, tin tacks, lightbulbs, compost, charcoal and rat repellers. The store once sold chimney sweep brushes, scythes, hay rakes and wax candles.

Graham Jones, of Oxford High Street Association, said last night the closure of Gill’s was a “sad blow”.

He added: “Gill’s is an Oxford institution. It is a loss not just to the High Street, but to the whole of the city centre. A lot of the handymen who work for the colleges go in there and they will definitely miss it.”

Michael Read, 62, from Kennington, who has worked at the shop for the past seven years, said: “I am being made redundant, which is quite tough at my age.

“All the customers seem very sad to hear we are closing.”

The store has operated from a number of different locations in and around the High Street over the years, including the Crown Inn passageway and 4-5 High Street, before moving to its current base.

Waterfield Bookshop, Morris Photographic and glass specialist Laurie Leigh have all bitten the dust in the High Street in the past few years.

Mr Hunt said: “A lot of independent stores in Oxford have closed and the city is now full of clothes shops and cafés. We must be one of the last few independents in the High Street.

“Oxford is full of multiples now which means it ends up offering the same as any other city.”

Mr Hunt added: “My wife and I run another Gill’s store in Chipping Norton which is doing very well because the people in the town support us.

“We are now shifting all our stock from the Oxford shop to Chipping Norton.”

Mr Hunt bought the business in High Street 10 years ago and opened the branch of the shop in Chipping Norton six years ago.

The Oxford shop’s current lease runs out at the end of September.

There are three staff working at Gill & Co in Oxford and Mr Hunt said one was retiring, one has found a new job and one was looking for a new job. Five staff work at the Chipping Norton store.