University Church of St. Mary, Oxford

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 14 Reviews

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • University Church of St. Mary
    by tim07
  • University Church of St. Mary
    by tim07
  • University Church of St. Mary
    by tim07
  • King_Golo's Profile Photo

    Over the rooftops of Oxford

    by King_Golo Updated Feb 8, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    View to the North

    The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the highest building on High Street and it provides you with a fantastic view over the roofs of Oxford. The only thing you have to do is pay a fee of £3, climb up the steep and narrow staircase, recover your breath and enjoy the panorama. As the church is just opposite of Radcliffe Camera, which again is situated on Oxford's most beautiful square, the city's gems are directly below you.
    Exiting the staircase, you will first see Radcliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre and the Bodleian Library in front of you, Exeter College and Brasenose College slightly to your left, and Hertford College, New College and the magnificent towers of All Souls College to your right. The next balcony provides views towards the East with Magdalen College and its church spire only 300m away. Visible from the South balcony are the spire of Merton College, Christ Church Cathedral and Tom Tower. Finally, you can see the tower of Nuffield College in the distance and much closer the tower of the library of Lincoln College from the West balcony.
    Having seen Oxford from up here, you will certainly understand why they also call it the "City of Dreaming Spires".
    For more pictures of the incomparable panorama check my St. Mary the Virgin travelogue.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • leffe3's Profile Photo

    University Church of St Mary

    by leffe3 Updated Nov 15, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    3 more images

    The largest of Oxford's parish churches, a church has been on the site since Anglo-Saxon times. It was from here that the newly founded Oxford University grew in 1096 and was the first building of the new centre of academic study - used for lectures and award ceremonies.

    The trial of the Oxford Martyrs in 1555 was held at the church. On the day of their death in 1556, Thomas Cranmer, former Archbishop of Canterbury, recanted his denouncing of the protestant faith at a sermon in the church, famously declaring that the hand that signed the recantations would be the first to burn.

    It was the constant use of the church for graduation ceremonies (anything but ecclesiastical), clashing with religious ceremonies that led to the commissioning of the Sheldonian Theatre behind St Mary's - Christopher Wren (St Paul's) designing the building for graduations and leaving the church for less secular activities.

    Nowadays the church is open daily from 9am-5pm, with the tower also open (post-service on Sundays).

    Entry fee: £3/£2.50 concessions/£10 family

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • evaanna's Profile Photo

    University Church of St Mary the Virgin

    by evaanna Updated Jul 30, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    University Church of St. Mary, Oxford

    Wherever you go in Oxford and even from the countryside nearby, the spire of this church is clearly visible, the highest of the Oxford 'dreaming spires'. St. Mary's is situated at the very heart of Oxford - it is around this church that the university grew. In the Middle Ages, when the university still had no buildings and the scholars lived in their teachers' houses it was the centre of university life.
    The earliest part of the church is the Tower erected in 1280 while the wonderfully ornate spire was added to it in the years 1315 - 1325. If you feel up to it, climb the 124 steps to its top to admire the marvellous view of Oxford and the area around it.
    It was at St. Mary's that the three Anglican bishops (see my tip on the Three Martyrs): Latimer,
    Ridley and Cranmer were put to trial before being burnt at the stake. It was here that Cranmer listened to the sermon pointing out his alleged 'crimes' on the last day of his life and was made to swear that the hand, his hand, that had signed papers proclaiming his 'outrageous' Protestant beliefs would be the first to feel the flames of the pyre.
    St. Mary's is worth visiting also for the sound of its magnificent organ and one of the best choirs in Oxford. Don't miss the Gift Shop, which offers Oxford guidebooks and souvenirs, rather more interesting than those available at other Oxford shops. If you are exhausted after climbing the Tower, you will find refreshments in their coffee shop. For details, see my Oxford restaurants tip.
    Church and Tower open: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., July - August 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sundays 11.45 - 5 p.m.
    Last entry to the Tower 30 mins before closing
    Admission to the Tower: adults 2.50 GBP, children 1.50 GBP, concessions 2 GBP

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • illumina's Profile Photo

    Tower view

    by illumina Written Jul 5, 2006

    The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is a lovely church with a special place in the history of Oxford. The main body of the church was rebuilt in the 15th century, although the tower is 13th c. and the spire is 14th c. The first university library was established here, and it's said that the first gathering of masters and students took place here possibly in the 12th century. It was also the site of the trial of the Oxford Martyrs - Bishops Latimer and Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer who were tried for heresy (as protestants) under the Catholic Mary Tudor in 1555. You can see where a pillar has been modified to fit in the platform where Thomas Cranmer was tried. There are also some interesting monuments, including that of the unfortunate Amy Robsart, the wife of Robert Dudley (Elizabeth I's favourite).

    Most visitors probably come for the view of the city from the tower. Entry to the tower is £2.50, and it's open from 9 to 5 every day - and if you do mount the 127 stairs to the top, believe me it is worth it. You can walk all around the sides of the tower, not only looking at the view, which is spectacular, but also examining up close the gargoyles adorning the sides of the structure. You get an especially good view of the Radcliffe Camera and a couple of the colleges.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • CheekyDee's Profile Photo

    Take a gander at St. Mary's

    by CheekyDee Written Apr 19, 2006

    This is a beautiful old church in Oxford which has a very impressive external view. Unfortunately as it was Easter weekend, we couldn't take pictures inside! But for a small minimal fee of ?2.50 you can climb up into the church for spectacular views of Oxford. Something worth looking at.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Study Abroad

    Was this review helpful?

  • martin_nl's Profile Photo

    University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

    by martin_nl Updated Oct 15, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    University Church of St. Mary

    If you turn right on High Street into Radcliffe Square you will pass this magnificient church. The tower is one of the highest in Oxford and there is beautiful details on it. The stained glass windows inside the church I've heard are worth checking out too.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo

    All Souls College

    by yooperprof Written Aug 18, 2004

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    soul-ful view

    All Souls is a college without any students - without any undergraduates, that is. Becoming a fellow of All Souls is quite an honor. "High Table" is supposed to be quite an experience.

    This is a view of a corner of its quad, looking out toward the spire of the University Church.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • coceng's Profile Photo

    The Views From St. Mary's Church...

    by coceng Updated Aug 3, 2004

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Views From St. Mary's Church, Oxford

    Oxford was a Saxon town at a point where River Cherwell meets The Thames.
    The first college was built in the 13th century & one of them was called 'university'.
    Today, there are 39 colleges spreading over Oxford.
    Snapped the 2nd photo ! Climbing up the winding steps to the top of St. Mary's Church; The middle tower (in the distance) is Exeter College Chapel.CONTINUE WITH THE AERIAL-VIEW PHOTOS THAT I TOOK FROM ST. MARY'S CHURCH TOWER...

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking

    Was this review helpful?

  • coceng's Profile Photo

    The Church Of St. Mary...

    by coceng Updated Aug 2, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Church of St. Mary The Virgin, Oxford

    Oxford was a Saxon town at a point where River Cherwell meets The Thames.
    The first college was built in the 13th century & one of them was called 'university'.
    Today, there are 39 colleges spreading over Oxford.
    The church is St. Mary The Virgin.
    It is a good sight with a handsome tower...
    It is told that no visit to Oxford is worth if not climbing the 127 steps to the tower gallery for an uninterupted views across the whole of the city !

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Backpacking

    Was this review helpful?

  • barryg23's Profile Photo

    University Church of St. Mary's

    by barryg23 Updated May 26, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    St. Mary's

    This church was once the focal point of Oxford University, where the first University ceremonies and meetings were held. Until recently, the church was home to the Convocation Coffee House, a historic cafe dating from 1320. This cafe closed in 2002, owing to bad business. In addition, don't miss the great views of Oxford from the tower of the church.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Aragina's Profile Photo

    St Mary the Virgin.

    by Aragina Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    First mentioned in the Domesday Book, one of the best views of Oxford is from the magnificent tower, which was built in the 13th century, the nave dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.
    St Mary's is both a parish church, and the official church of the University of Oxford. Its fascinating history and its location in the heart of the City draws large numbers of visitors. In recent years it has often been designated 'the most visited parish church in England'.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    St Mary's Church

    by Tom_Fields Written Nov 21, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    St Mary's in Oxford

    This is the parish church for Oxford. The spire dates back to the 13th century, with modifications in the 14th. It was used for university meetings and ceremonies from then until 1669.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Oana_bic's Profile Photo

    Climb the stairs in St Mary...

    by Oana_bic Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Climb the stairs in St Mary the Virgin College Towel, once used to be Oxford University's reference library and to house the degree ceremonies ..
    An excellent sightsee in sunny days

    Was this review helpful?

  • Krystynn's Profile Photo

    This is the beautiful ...

    by Krystynn Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is the beautiful Brasenose Chapel. Another must-see!

    More later...

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Oxford

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

108 travelers online now

Comments

Hotels Near University Church of St. Mary
4.5 out of 5 stars
679 Opinions
0 miles away
Show Prices
3.5 out of 5 stars
447 Opinions
0.1 miles away
Show Prices
3.0 out of 5 stars
163 Opinions
0.2 miles away

View all Oxford hotels