There has been a church ion this site for over 1000 years. That earliest church was wooden and stood outside the city walls: it was probably burned duing the Viking raids of the early 1000s.
The church was rebuilt in the later 1000s and again in the late1100s, by St Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln at the time). What you see today incorporates some of St Hugh's building: the east chancel wall and the south aisle in particular.
The church is full of memorials to Oxford's past great and good, as well as an elaborate font (still used for baptisms) which dates from around 1350.
It is definitely worth looking at the interior: the church is open for visiting on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings as well as for services.
This is the church which has the 'Saxon Tower'...a wonderfully-preserved bit of Saxon architecture from 1050...and it is the oldest church in the city.
There was once a whole church attached to the tower, of course, but what you see now is the building which was constructed from the 1200s onwards. The chancel, part of the south aisle and the south door date from that time but the rest of the building is from the 14th and 15th centuries (1300s and 1400s).
The tower was restored in 1986 and it is possible to climb it for excellent views over the city. On the way up you pass through the Treasury, with ancient church silver on display, and the clock mechanism.
You'll have to pay to enter the Saxon Tower (&1.50 at the time of writing this) but the rest of the church is free for you to explore. Both are well worth a visit.
Our 1st stop in Oxford was the church of St. Mary the Virgin where we climbed the 124 steps up to the top for a excellent view over the city. The stairs are very steep and winding and there is only one way for both up and down, we were glad not to run into anyone going either direction. Admission is £2.50.
When Lyra first visits our universe, she travels with Will on a bus down the Banbury Road and gets off in the city centre by an old stone church, which she recognises from her world, opposite a big department store which she doesn't.
The church would be this one, St Mary Magdalen, by the great central crossroads where the Broad meets Cornmarket. The department store is presumably Debenhams.
The architecture in this town was spectacular. I enjoyed the Bus Tour as it allowed us to get an ample view of the sights!