I would appreciate some advice as I'm looking for some black cap toes/whole cuts and was eyeing the meermin classic oxfords
As I'm based in the UK, is it worthwhile taking the gamble with these or am I better off buying a pair off (and how do they compare to) Cheaneys/Loakes/Barkers (c&js aren't in my price range) or going to John rushtons to find something in the £100-200 range.
I was in the same position and bought a pair of Loake 1880 Aldwych's and then black wholecuts and single monks on the Ama last from Meermin.
First up, measure your feet. Second, go to John Rushton's on Wimpole Street and see what is available in your budget - try them all on. Third, make your decision based upon estimated fit (you can obtain measurements of the Meermin lasts in various sizes) and style - since price will be there or there abouts (Meermin will be probably cheaper inc. shoe trees).
FWIW, the only British shoes I own are the Loakes. It took me ages and I mean ages to properly break them in. The upper leather was so stiff, as was the insole felt very, very hard. I believe it was only start of November - after wearing them once or twice a week - until I properly felt comfortable in the Loakes. No such problem for wholecuts for single monks. The Loakes were also bought at full retail £195 + £35 for shoe trees. A bit more expensive than the Meermins.
I actually do not like the style of the captoes in the classic collection. However, you may feel differently.