7 Amazing Churches in Oxford

Churches in Oxford Christ Church

I was lucky enough to spend a year in Oxford when I was a Geography teacher. The city is one of the beautiful cities in England and it’s full of amazing Gothic and Baroque architecture. Amongst the Libraries, Museums and University colleges, you will also find some amazing Churches in Oxford – many of them are free to enter.

Oxford high street
Oxford High Street – view of University Church Spire

Remember that many of these Churches are still in use today by practicing congregations, particularly the University Church and other University chapels. Remember to dress respectfully, remain silent inside the Church buildings and follow the guidelines on photography and videography inside them. Double check that the times of your visit don’t clash with services or particular religious festivals such as Christmas and Easter. If you want to read more then have a look at this article on how to visit Churches with respect.

My 7 favourite Churches in Oxford

Oxford, England is home to a number of historic and notable churches, including:

  1. Christ Church Cathedral
  2. St. Michaels
  3. St. Martin’s (Carfax Tower)
  4. The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
  5. St. Barnabus (St Thomas’)
  6. St Giles’
  7. Magdalene College Chapel

#1 Christ Church Cathedral

This iconic cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Oxford and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It is a popular tourist attraction and also serves as the chapel for Christ Church, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford.

Churches in Oxford Christ Church
Christ Church, Oxford

The cathedral was founded in the 11th century by the Norman conquerors and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries. It is known for its beautiful architecture, which includes a mix of Norman, Gothic, and Baroque styles. The cathedral is home to a number of important artifacts and works of art, including a medieval stone font, a 15th-century painting of the Madonna and Child, and a 17th-century organ.

It is open to visits from the public but by guided tour only. It works out cheaper if you book in advance on the website rather than pay on the door.

Denomination: Anglican

Cost to Visit: From £10

Book here: https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/visit-us

Travel Tip – This is one of the Churches in Oxford that was used in the filming of Harry Potter. You might like to do a Harry Potter tour of Oxford while you are here!

#2 St. Michael’s at the North Gate

St. Michael at the Northgate is a Church in Oxford, England, located on Cornmarket Street near the north gate of the city walls. The church is dedicated to St. Michael, the archangel, and is known for its 15th-century tower, which is one of the oldest in Oxford. The church is a Grade II* listed building, which means it is a particularly important building of more than special interest.

The church dates back to the 12th century, although the current building dates mainly from the 15th century. It has undergone several renovations and restoration projects over the years, including a major restoration in the 19th century. The church is known for its medieval architecture, including the Saxon tower, which is decorated with carvings and statues of angels.

It’s free to visit the Church, but will cost you £4 if you would like to climb the tower.

Denomination: Church of England

Cost to Visit: Free (£4 to go up the tower)

Travel Tips: Don’t miss the row of shops that was three Tudor houses on Cornmarket street (One of them is now a Pret A Manger and the other is a hat shop! Also, while you are on Cornmarket street, make your next stop at Carfax Tower – the only remaining structure of St. Martin’s Church at the other end of Cornmarket Street.

#3 St Martin’s (Carfax Tower)

The famous Oxford landmark of Carfax tower is actually the only remaining structure left over from the 13th Century St Martin’s Church, which was destroyed in the English Civil War in the 17th century. The rest of the Church was completely demolished in 1896 for safety reasons and also to make room for traffic flow at the busy junction. The tower is now a Grade I listed building, which means it is a building of exceptional interest and is considered to be of national importance.

Carfax Tower Oxford
Carfax Tower, Oxford (the remains of St Martin’s)

here are 99 steps to climb if you want to go to the top of the tower and ill cost just £3 for a ticket. You don’t need to book in advance – most tourists just turn up on the day. There is a fantastic view of Oxford’s city and spires from the top of Carfax tower and so it’s a great spot for photography.

Denomination: Church of England

Cost: £3 to climb the tower

#4 The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

This is my favourite of all the Churches in Oxford – mainly because it was one of the first I ever saw. It was an unplanned impulsive visit as I was walking past and it was free to get in – a very wonderful surprise indeed. Located on the High Street in central Oxford, this church is another of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It is the largest of Oxford’s university churches and is known for its beautiful architecture and historic significance.

The church is a Grade I listed building, which means it is a building of exceptional interest and is considered to be of national importance. The church dates back to the 12th century, although much of the current building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. It has undergone several renovations and restoration projects over the years.

The Church is free to enter and you don’t need to book, but as it is a practicing Church remember to check that your visit doesn’t clash with any religious festivals or services. There is a £5 charge to go up the tower and tickets for this can be bought from the Church shop.

Denomination: Church of England

Cost: Free to enter (£5 for the tower)

Website: https://www.universitychurch.ox.ac.uk/

#5 St Barnabus’ Church

St Barnabus’ Church is a Church of England parish church located in the Jericho neighborhood of Oxford, England. The church is a Grade II* listed building, which means it is a particularly important building of more than special interest. St Barnabus is sometimes referred to as St Thomas the Martyr or St Thomas’ because of its former parish.

The church dates back to the 12th century, although the current building is largely from the 14th and 15th centuries. It has undergone several renovations and restoration projects over the years, including a major restoration in the 19th century. The church is known for its beautiful architecture, including its stained glass windows and its 15th-century tower. It’s known as Oxford’s Basilica.

Denomination: Church of England

Cost: Free to visit (check local events and whats on)

Website: https://www.sbarnabas.org.uk/stthomasthemartyr

Travel Tip – Jericho is a boho-chic neighbourhood which is popular with the students and locals like. It’s full of artsy coffee shops, independent eateries and traditional English pubs, so check some of these out while you are visiting St Thomas’.

#6 St Giles’ Church

St. Giles’ Church is found at the Northern end of the city where it meets Woodstock Road. A stunning example of a medieval church with a rich history, it is known for its beautiful stained glass windows and historic tombs.

It is also known as the University Church of St Giles, as it is located near the University of Oxford and has a long history of serving the university community. The church is a Grade I listed building and dates back to the 12th century, although much of the current building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The Church was damaged in the siege of Oxford during the civil war and has undergone restoration since. he Church has a cemetery with historical graves.

Denomination: Catholic

Cost: Free to visit

Website: https://www.st-giles-church.org

Travel tip: Approximately a mile and a half North from St Giles is the area of ‘Summertown’ – a lovely residential area with an upmarket high street. It’s a nice place to explore if you want to experience more about the local area.

#7 Magdalen College Chapel

Magdalen College Chapel (pronounced maudlin) is the chapel of Magdalen College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. The chapel is a Grade I listed building. It is smaller and more intimate than most of the other college chapels, but is worth a visit due to its beauty.

Magdalen College Chapel

The chapel dates back to the 15th century and is an example of Perpendicular Gothic architecture. It is known for its beautiful stained glass windows, which depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as its elaborate ceiling, which is decorated with carvings and paintings. The chapel also contains a number of important historical artifacts, including a 14th-century altar and a 17th-century organ.

You can visit as part of a tour of Magdalen college with tickets fro £9.50.

Denomination: Church of England (but welcomes students of all denominations and faiths)

Cost: Adults £9.50(payment by card only)

Website: https://www.magd.ox.ac.uk/chapel-and-choir/the-chapel/

Travel Tip – Magdelene College is located opposite the Oxford Botanic Garden and you can get a joint ticket for both of these destinations which works out cheaper.

Oxford – Further Reading

If you enjoyed this blog on the best Churches in Oxford then you might also like to read this blog on how to spend one day in Oxford. There are plenty of things to do in Oxford including the castle, Blenheim Palace and the Pitt Rivers Museum. It wan be an expensive city to visit, especially regarding accommodation, but ff you are travelling to Oxford on a budget don’t worry, there are also plenty of free things to do in Oxford.

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