Church of St Michael at the North Gate

Price guide: Free

Conrmarket Street, Oxford, OX1 3EY

Price guide: Free

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By Adrian Mourby, your Oxford expert

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#18 of 21
expert-rated things to do in Oxford
Expert overall rating:3.4 out of 5
Value for money:
3.7
3.7
Recommended for:
Backpackers / Students, Mature travellers, Escaping the crowds, History

Expert review of Church of St Michael at the North Gate

The oldest church in Oxford presides over its busiest shopping street.

This sturdy Saxon tower of St Michael’s church dates from around 1050 and is probably the oldest surviving building in Oxford. The church was recorded in the Domesday Book as owning “two houses worth 52d’. Inside there is 13th-century stained glass, a 14th-century font where Shakespeare may well have stood as a Godparent, an Elizabethan chalice dated to 1562 and a rather over-sized organ.

The door from Archbishop Cranmer's prison cell is to be found if you ascend the tower. It was from the top of St Michael's tower that Cranmer watched Bishops Ridley and Latimer burn to death. Their execution took place outside the medieval city walls in what is now Broad Street.

These days the tower is accessed trough the shop (or visitor reception centre, as it is known). As you climb you will also pass the 19th-century clock mechanism and at the top there is a panoramic view of the city and the hills beyond, which featured in an episode of Inspector Morse.

Price advice: 

Entry to the church is free; tower admission costs £2 for adults, £1 for children and £1.50 for concessions.

Expert tips: 
The Bocardo door in the tower originally connected St Michael's with the Bocardo Prison (now demolished), which was where Archbishop Cranmer was kept before his execution and where he wrote much of the Book of Common Prayer.
The Bocardo Box (to be found in the Treasury) was used by prisoners to collect alms.

More information on Church of St Michael at the North Gate:

Price guide:
Free
Type:
Religious site
Address:
Conrmarket Street, Oxford, OX1 3EY
Telephone:
01865 240 940
Website:
http://www.smng.org.uk
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 10.30am-4pm; Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 10.30am-5pm. Sun 8am for Holy Communion, last Sunday service at 6pm.
Indoor/outdoor?:
Both
Free tags / Keywords:
Cranmer, Inspector Morse

Have you been to Church of St Michael at the North Gate? Would you recommended it?