Church of St Michael at the North Gate

Address: Conrmarket Street, Oxford, OX1 3EY, United Kingdom
Telephone: 01865 240 940

- Free


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.

Value for money

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.

Recommended for

  • Backpackers / Students
  • Mature travellers
  • Escaping the crowds
  • History