IT was once an Elizabethan bedroom used by Shakespeare.

But now it is on offer as a unique business premises in the heart of Oxford.

The extraordinary Painted Room in Cornmarket Street is part of a 905sq ft office complex put up for a new lease by Oxford City Council.

But any company keen to move in will have to meet one key condition – they must allow parties of visitors to come round and inspect the room by arrangement.

The room, discovered in 1927, is decorated with 16th century murals which had been covered by oak panels, canvas and wallpaper.

The decorations of fruit and flowers also contain a stern warning to any businessmen thinking of taking on the property: “Serve god Devoutlye... Feare god above anythyng.”

Estate agent David Williams, of Meeson Williams, said there had already been several inquiries about taking on the £11,500- a-year property.

He said: “When you walk up the stairs off Cornmarket Street into the calm of this Elizabethan space, it really is like stepping back through time.”

He added: “It is the sort of building we really need to be able to celebrate the unusual nature of.

“It has good connotations by the fact of what it is, and if a business uses the character of the building for commercial advantage, it has huge potential as an office.

“I could see publishing, media or design businesses realising that the history and legacy of the building is extraordinary.”

When discovered, the room was owned by tailors Messrs Hookham, and was subsequently used as the offices of the Oxford Preservation Trust.

Most recently, the office suite, above clothing shop Republic, served as the headquarters of care providers Oxford Aunts, which also had to allow visitors access. A spokesman said people came to view the room every couple of months.

Appointments have to be arranged through the city council.

The room was once part of the Crown Inn, run by Shakespeare’s friend and Mayor of Oxford John Davenant.

The bard is believed to have stayed in the room when travelling between London and Stratford.

The 17th century diarist John Aubrey recorded: “Mr William Shakespeare was wont to goe into Warwickshire once a yeare, and did commonly on his journey lye at this house in Oxon: where he was exceedingly respected.”

Shakespeare was godfather to Davenant’s son William, born in 1606.

He went on to become a playwright and serve as Poet Laureate.

According to gossip, he may have been Shakespeare’s illegitimate son.

A similar wall painting once existed in another room in the property, demolished in 1934, but a fragment of the painting is at the Museum of Oxford.

Two other painted rooms can be seen in the former Cross Inn, now Pizza Express, in the Golden Cross shopping arcade.