St Michael at the North Gate Church, Oxford
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The Saxon tower is the oldest building in Oxford
The bishops, later known as the Oxford Martyrs, were burned at the stake in nearby Broad Street, and the cell door from the now-demolished prison was rescued and preserved inside the church. It is sobering to think that the bishops each passed through this door on their way to the stake.
Among the historic objects of interest inside the church is the marriage certificate of Arts and Crafts pioneer William Morris. Morris and Jane Burden, who lived at nearby Holywell Street, were married here in 1859. Also on view is the 15th century pulpit from which John Wesley preached on Michaelmas Day 1726. You can view an 11th century sheela-na-gig and a copy of the Geneva Bible of 1608.
The interior of the church shows the effects of its Victorian restoration by GE Street, but there are some lovely monuments to leading Oxford merchants. Visiting St Michael's is a bit of a peculiar experience; you enter by way of a gift shop, where you can pay a modest fee to climb to the top of the tower. On the way you pass the Martyr's cell door and the set of 16th-17th century church bells before emerging onto the tower roof. This gives wonderful views down Cornmarket, and across the surrounding rooftops.
I won't repeat the 'city of dreaming spires' cliche, but there really are a lot of spires to see at this level! You can enter the church without climbing the tower, though I do recommend the experience!
About Oxford, St Michael's
Address: Saxon Tower, Cornmarket Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, OX1 3EY
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: At the corner of Cornmarket and Ship Street. Very, very limited parking, so use Park and Ride or public transport. Easily reachable on foot from central Oxford attractions. Open daily.
Website: Oxford, St Michael's
Phone: 01865 240940
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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