University Church of St Mary, Oxford

Oxford University Church of St Mary (

There are several towers you can climb in Oxford to look at the city of spires, but we think this is the one with the best view. Head up in the morning on sunny days so you can look down of the magnificent Radcliffe Camera bathed in sunlight. The church itself is worth visiting too as it’s been here for so many years that the colleges were established around it. John Wesley even preached here in 1741! To get the best out of your visit, take a free drop-in tour, lasting about half an hour. Simply, register with a volunteer on arrival and they’ll tell you when the next one is. Even if churches aren’t your thing, you can still pop into the cafe which is located in the attractive vaults. This is an extract from our free Oxford City Guide.

Oxford Skyline From St Marys Church

The view from St Mary’s, Oxford

There’s been a church on this site since 1086! The church was then adopted as part of the university and by the early 13th century it was being used as the seat of government of the university. It was also used for the awarding of degrees and for meetings and lectures. In fact, graduation ceremonies were held here until the 17th century when the new examination hall was built over the road.  When you visit the church, there a few things to look out for. The porch at the entrance on High Street is particularly attractive with its spiral columns. It was built in 1637 and if you look carefully at the statue, you’ll see bullet holes which were left by Oliver Cromwell’s troops. Inside, the communion rail is from the 1670s and have a look inside the de Brome Chapel with its fancy throne (which belonged the the chancellor) and its 18th century panelling.  It’s all very nice inside too, but for us the highlight of this church was the trip up the tower.

Oxford University Church of St Mary daytime (

There are 127 steps to take you to the viewing area. When you get there, you’ll find uninterrupted views in all directions over the most beautiful bits of Oxford. The tower opens at 9.30am every day except Sunday when it opens at 11.45am. Adult admission to the tower is £4 (2013 prices). Admission to the church is free and it’s open from 9am to 5pm daily, with later closing at 6pm in July and August.


Address: University Church of St Mary, High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ
Tel: +44 1865 279111


Univeristy Church of St Mary – Official website
Visit Oxford & Oxfordshire – Official Website
Oxford Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour – Stops on High Street
Hotels in Oxford – We recommend
Oxford Guide Books –
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