University Church of St. Mary the Viirgin
St. Mary the Virgin, on High Street, holds a special place in the
history of Oxford University. It was here that the first library of the university was established, and legend has it that the first gatherings of Masters and students
was held here as early as the 12th century.
More dramatically, St. Mary's was the site of the trial of the
"Oxford Martyr's", when Bishops Latimer and Ridley, and Archbishop Cranmer, were tried for heresy in 1555.
The church, at the meeting of High Street and Catte Street, forms
one side of Radcliffe Square, facing the domed Radcliffe Camera. The most notable feature of St. Mary the Virgin is its spire, which contains elements of the original
13th century construction. The view from the top of St. Mary the Virgin is superb, and you can look down into the quads of several nearby colleges, notably neighbor All
Gargoyle on St. Mary's
If you do mount the 127 stairs to the top of the tower
you will also be rewarded with a close view of St. Mary's gargoyles, which are some of Oxford's finest (or should that be, most grotesque?).
Also keep an eye open for the unusual "barley-twist"
columns supporting the front portico to St. Mary's.
Entry to the church itself is free, but there is a nominal charge to climb the
tower. St. Mary's is open from 0900- 1900 during July and August, and until 1700 during the rest of the year.