The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is a vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive church within the Church of England. Standing in the very centre of Oxford, it is the spiritual heart of the oldest university in Britain. With dignified liturgy and beautiful music, it has been a place of Christian worship for over a thousand years. Today it strives to be a community of faithful Christian witness and intelligent debate, unafraid to engage with the modern world.
The church has a diverse worshipping community at the University Church. Everyone is welcome to join for any of the regular services, ‘town and gown’, residents of Oxford and visitors passing through. A Christian church within the Church of England, the University Church welcomes people of all Christian traditions as well as people of other faiths, and those of little or no faith.
The church offers a range of services of worship and prayer, from the quiet of daily prayer and Eucharist, to the full Sunday Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong. From large services for special occasions, festivals and causes, to more intimate midweek gatherings, it is hoped that everyone may find a space for reflection and spiritual nourishment, as well as a place where they belong.
Music plays a profound role in worship and reflection, and the Church is a stunning location to visit for one of the many professional and student concerts hosted there throughout the year. The University Church is a place where musical excellence inspires and enlivens, and builds bridges within the community.
The University Church has a long and rich story and visitors are invited to explore the building in their own time. The church is open to visitors throughout the year and welcomers and guides are usually on hand to answer any questions you may have. Visitors can use this space for quiet prayer, for meditation or to light a candle – it is a space of calm refreshment in the busy city centre.
Climbing to the top of St Mary’s Church is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Oxford, especially for those interested in photography, architecture, or just looking for a unique and memorable experience. It’s also an excellent way to appreciate the city’s beauty and gain a new perspective on Oxford’s rich history and culture.
To climb to the top of St Mary’s Church, visitors will need to ascend a spiral staircase with over 120 steps, which can be a bit challenging for some people. However, once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Oxford’s spires, rooftops, and landmarks, including the Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Bridge of Sighs.
At the top of the tower, there’s a platform that allows visitors to take in the views from all sides, and there are also informational plaques that highlight some of the key landmarks visible from the tower. Back on the ground floor, there’s a small gift shop that sells souvenirs and postcards, and the Vaults and Garden café offers an opportunity to sit down with a coffee, tea and locally source food.
The University Church is situated in the heart of Oxford on the edge of Radcliffe Square amidst some of the most iconic buildings of the city. The Church provides one of the finest venues for concerts, while both the Clore Old Library and the Vaults Cafe offer beautiful venues for meetings, seminars, conferences, fine dining and drinks receptions. The De Brome Transept can also be used for book launches and drinks receptions.
Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.00pm
Sunday noon to 5.00pm
Special opening times apply at Christmas and New year.
The church is a fifteen-minute walk from Oxford Train Station.
Several bus services make stops on the High Street. To plan your journey, visit the Oxford Bus Company’s website. See the Oxford City Council website for details of coach parking in the city centre.
Unfortunately, there is no parking available at the University Church. Limited parking is available in the city centre. You can also park at one of the Park and Ride sites around the city, with the nearest stop a few minutes walk away on the High Street.
The nearest pay and display car parks are a fifteen-minute walk on Oxpens Road. Full details of city centre parking, opening times and parking fees are available here.
The University Church is located on the High Street.