University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford

#5 of 20 in Historic Sites in Oxford
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Architectural Building
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary's or SMV for short) 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, Oxford and All Souls College.

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740 reviews
  • Climb the tower to get fabulous views in four directions. It really helps you appreciate the city. Well worth the £5  more »
  • Beautiful church, located in central Oxford. Free to enter, subject to social distancing rules. Apparently extremely significant in Oxford’s history. Radcliffe Camera is close to the building.  more »
  • The best part of the Church for me its the panoramic view you can get over Oxford from the top of the tower. It's simply breathtaking. £5 fee. There is a queue most of the time, but it's worth waiting. You won't regret it!
  • My wife wanted to come up on September 17, 2019 and I gave her company. There is no toilet facilities inside the Church. We had to wait before paying and accessing and then we found out the only staircase was straight and was meant for one person only. Good views aside, I was particularly struck to see a tourist’s initials and the year 1811 inscribed on one of the wall at the top level.

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