Oxford, England

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

The magnificent University Church of St. Mary the Virgin is rich in history, art, architecture and culture. You can see the most prominent of the ‘dreaming spires’- the richly decorated Gothic spire of the church long before you reach Oxford city.

A rich heritage

Like most European universities, the University of Oxford grew from this church which has been mentioned in records as early as 1086. The church was the very first building in the history of the University and the venue for award ceremonies and distinguished lectures.

Grand architecture

The church’s architecture, though essentially Gothic, exhibits several other influences too. The distinctive tower, built in 1280 is the oldest part of the church. The pinnacles and statues were added subsequently. Visitors can climb the 124 steps up to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of Oxford. The finely ornamented Virgin Porch, built in 1637, reflects the Temple at Jerusalem. The wood paneling and altar rails spell baroque and classical themes. The intricate stained glass windows mostly date from the 19th century.

Finally, enjoy a coffee, or tea, if you please, at the legendary Vaults and Garden Café within the same historic premises. You can choose to sit indoors or in the garden but either way, you will come away awe-struck at the sheer grandeur and serenity that surrounds this majestic Church.