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Oxfords dreaming spires

March 20, 2013

A trip to Oxford meant the opportunity to have a look at a few churches in my favourite city.

First of all a really famous Church –

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

To many in the Church this is their spiritual home for this is where the Oxford movement started after John Keble’s famous ‘Assize Sermon’.st Mary Oxford sign

Outside I found a very clear welcome sign. Even on a cold March day there were plenty of visitors around Oxford. This is among the most visited of all Anglican parish churches.

Inside there was no visitors book – it might be impracticable here with the number of visitors. There is a small book shop with some touristy things for a sale and a small selection of Christian books. I didn’t see a guide book on the church itself.

There was a display of photos of some restoration work on the church and two votive stands to use. A number of friendly people were setting up the church for a concert. I also found a folder of historical information left on a table but this wasn’t labelled. Inside was all sorts of information about the church and people connected with it.

StmaryoxfordThis is a great church to visit but I was a bit dissapointed with what I found. I do feel that there is a great opportunity here to tell an important story which isn’t being currently done.

The website is at http://www.university-church.ox.ac.uk/index.htm and does give a lot of history as well as visitor information.

Overall I rate St. Mary’s as good for the visitor but it wouldn’t take too much effort to make this very good or excellent.

St. Michael, Northgate

Another church which is open every day and was busy with visitors on my visit. Once again there is a very clear welcome from the signs outsidestmichaelnorthgate

The church website is at http://www.smng.org.uk/ and is excellent with much useful information and some good pictures. They obviously take their many visitors seriously. There is also a good leaflet to take away about the church. I particularly like the section about ‘A moment’s calm’ which encourages visitors to take a moment to meditate and pray in the church. There was also a rack of ‘Discover Churches in Oxford’ which is well produced. The church is warm and there are lights on to give a welcoming atmosphere.

There is a prayer book and a votive stand to use near the fontstmichaeloxford2.

There is a children’s corner where they have been encouraged to draw a Saxon (the church is notable for it’s Saxon tower which visitors can climb for a small fee).

There is a manned bookshop here with a good selection of Christian books, cards etc as well as more touristy stock.

I like this church a lot and they have made a real effort to welcome visitors. I rate it as excellent.

St. Mary Magdalen’s Church, Magdalen Street

Another wonderful church to visit. There is an A frame sign to welcome visitors and a good welcome notice inside. There is a good selction of visitors leaflets which are available for a small charge.StMaryM oxford exterior2 These are very good, one explains who Mary Magdalen was, another gives a clear account of Anglo-catholicism  and another gives a guide to the mass. There was a small display of children’s work and the visitors book had 34 entries so far this year. A prayer board and a votive stand are available for use too, as well as a holy water stoup.stmarymoxford

The statues and crosses were all veiled for Passiontide.

The church’s website can be found at http://www.stmarymagdalenoxford.org.uk/ It gives clear visitor information and one very nice touch is that prayers can be emailed in to be prayed in the  Friday service.

I rate this church as very good – well worth visiting.

St. Frideswide

This Victorian church stands just along the Botley Road, a short walk west from the city centre. It is firmly locked.StFrideswideoxford The website is at http://www.stfrideswideschurch.org.uk/index.html and this gives no visitor information, neither is the church listed in the ‘Discover Oxford Churches’ leaflet. I assume that it is only open for services.stfrideswide2

A wasted chance in a busy place. I have to rate this as very poor.

St. Lawrence, North Hinksey

North HinkseyA delightful little church just off the busy A34. It is open everyday and is a haven of peace.

I can’t find a website but the church does have an entry on achurchnearyou. There is a good welcome notice outside. Inside I found a delightful, simple country church. There is a selection of the Oxford Diocesan leaflets (their office is next door so that is not surprising!) and a guide to walk around with as well as a pilgrimage map.

North Hinsey interiorThe visitors book had only been signed by 4 visitors so far this year but this church must get more than that!North Hinksey porch

North Hinksey windowThere is also this delightful window – Eunice and Timothy.

There you have it! A few more churches to add to the list. I hope to add a good few more as this year progresses.

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One Comment
  1. simontcope permalink

    If I’d known you were coming I could’ve shown you round Merton College!

    Looking forward to your talk this evening,

    Simon

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