University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford (must see)

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the largest parish church in Oxford. It stands on High Street and is surrounded by colleges, which is why it is so popular with the students and professors.

The first church on this site was built in 1086 and when the university was founded in the 13th century, it was considered to be its first building. In 1320, a two-storey edifice was constructed on the north side of the chancel; the ground floor was the university’s Convocation House and today it houses Vault Café. The upper floor became the university’s first library, with books donated by Thomas Cobham.

The church’s Baroque porch was designed by Nicholas Stone. Its 13th century tower affords excellent views, and is open to the public. The steeple is reputed to be the most beautiful in England.

In 1555, the Oxford Martyrs were tried and condemned inside this church. You will notice that a section of the pillar opposite the pulpit is missing. This was cut out to support a small platform where the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, stood while withdrawing his recantation of his Protestant faith, before being taken out and burnt at the stake.

At the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries, most of the church was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style, only the tower and the spire remained untouched. Out of the 12 statues, 11 were replaced in 1894 by George Frampton.

Into the 17th century, the church was used for graduation ceremonies, until the church officials got fed up with the very un-Christian parties held afterwards, and therefore they had the Sheldonian Theatre built to host the ceremonies instead.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Oxford, England within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on Map

Sight Name: University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Sight Location: Oxford, England
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Oxford, England

Create Your Own Walk in Oxford

Create Your Own Walk in Oxford

Creating your own self-guided walk in Oxford is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Oxford Introduction Walk

Oxford Introduction Walk

A small city in central England, Oxford was first settled by the Anglo-Saxons circa 900 AD and was initially known as Oxnaford, meaning "ford (river crossing) of the oxen". In the later centuries, Oxford played an important role in the history and development of Great Britain. Much of the city revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century, being the oldest...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Historical Religious Buildings in Oxford

Historical Religious Buildings in Oxford

On top of being the home of the University of Oxford, the city of Oxford is also home to a great number of religious sites closely associated with to the history of English Christianity. Churches, college chapels and prayer houses with tremendous architecture are found here in abundance. If you're a religious person or history- or architecture buff, or all of that, you will definitely find...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Colleges of Oxford University

Colleges of Oxford University

The University of Oxford is the oldest educational institution in England and one of the best in the world. The university represents a "federation" incorporating 38 self-governing colleges and six permanent private halls. Alma mater for thousands of the most influential people on the planet, the university is also a major attraction for architecture and history buffs. To acquaint...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Harry Potter Walk in Oxford

Harry Potter Walk in Oxford

Adding to its conventional university fame, Oxford has recently emerged as a major filming location for Hogwarts in the world-famous Harry Potter series. If you're a fan or just keen on discovering a few secrets of the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, while following in the footsteps of Harry, Hermione and Ron along the same mysterious hallways, take this self guided walk. En route you will...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles