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 1st church was built on this site in 1086 and when the University was founded in the 13th century, it was considered the university’s first building. In 1320 a two storey building was built on to the north side of the chancel; the ground floor was the University’s Convocation House and today it is the Vault Café. The upper floor became the University’s 1st library with books donated by Thomas Cobham.

The church’s Baroque porch was designed by Nicholas Stone. The 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 in the 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 when he withdrew his recantation of his Protestant faith, before being taken out and burnt at the stake.

At the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century’s most of the church was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style and only the tower and spire remain untouched, except for the 12 statues – 11 of which 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 there following graduation, and had the Sheldonian Theatre built to host the ceremonies.

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: City Orientation Walk   Religious Buildings in Oxford  

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.
Museums and Galleries in Oxford

Museums and Galleries in Oxford

Oxford is a beautiful British city famous throughout the world for its University and historic places. The city offers a lot of activities and attractions. For example, Oxford is famous for its museums and galleries that are known for their unique collections and that host regular art exhibitions.
Take this tour to discover the history and culture of the city.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Landmarks of Oxford

Landmarks of Oxford

Oxford is a very beautiful city, with a rich culture and history. It offers a lot of splendid landmarks and monuments, many of them dating back hundreds of years and illustrating the historic heritage of the city. This walking tour will guide you through the most attractive landmarks of Oxford.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Oxford has played an important role in the history and development of Great Britain. Its architecture and cultural spots, that attract many tourists, belong to every major period in English history. This tour will guide you through Oxford's most interesting and beautiful attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Religious Buildings in Oxford

Religious Buildings in Oxford

Oxford is home to a great range of sites related to the history of English Christianity. Many churches, college chapels and prayer houses with tremendous architecture can be seen here. Take this self-guided tour to discover the most important religious building in Oxford.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 km
Nightlife in Oxford

Nightlife in Oxford

Oxford is a cosmopolitan and youthful city, with a lot of things to do and places to go. The city offers a wide range of clubs with great music and thematic programs, as well as different pubs and bars catering to all tastes. Check out the most popular clubs in Oxford on this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.2 km
Oxford University Walking Tour

Oxford University Walking Tour

The University of Oxford is the oldest institution of its kind and one of the best in England. It represents a "federation", consisting of 38 self-governing Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls. Take this tour to find out the most beautiful and worth-seeing colleges in Oxford.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km