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University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

(4.6/5 based on 480+ reviews on the web)
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is an Oxford church situated on the north side of the High Street. It is the centre from which the University of Oxford grew and its parish consists almost exclusively of university and college buildings.St Mary's possesses an eccentric baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone, facing High Street, and a spire which is claimed by some church historians to be one of the most beautiful in England. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street. The 13th century tower is open to the public for a fee and provides good views across the heart of the historic university city, especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College.HistoryA church was established on this site, at the centre of the old walled city, in Anglo-Saxon times; records of 1086 note the church as previously belonging to an estate held by Aubrey de Coucy, likely Iffley, and the parish including part of Littlemore.In the early days of Oxford University, the church was adopted as the first building of the university, congregation met there from at least 1252, and by the early 13th century it was the seat of university government and was used for lectures and the award of degrees. Around 1320 a two storey building was added to the north side of the chancel — the ground floor (now the Vaults cafe) became the "convocation" house used by university parliament, and the upper storey housed books bequeathed by Thomas Cobham, Bishop of Worcester, which formed the first university library.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Opportunity for some exercise up and down some steps to the roof of the church. Great views of much of the colleges of Oxford and beyond; worth the money. The church is interesting and the cafe is als...  more »
  • This is a church that keeps on giving. The queues for the popular tower view is regularly busy. The gift shop interesting and the walk around the church reveals some extraordinary church and local his...  more »
  • The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is a must for any visitor to Oxford. It was built in early 16th century. You need to climb about a hundred and twenty steps to get to the top. The stairs ar...  more »
Google
  • A beautiful place, full of character and great details. Definitely worth popping in to enjoy the space. Staff there were friendly and knowledgable too. There is also a paid entry to view Oxford from the top of the tower, but I didn't partake.
  • Very good cafe/restaurant self service and reasonable prices.
  • Check my photos, you will then definitely want to go up there ;)
  • A quick visit but well worth it.
  • Look past the Radcliffe Camera lies the Univeristy Church of St Virgin Mary. This is the heart of Oxford. You can scale the stairs up the clock tower and be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the city.