Oxford History: City Wall


North wall, with Bastions 1, 2, & 3: George St/St Michael's St

George Street was just outside the city, and there used to be a lane outside the city wall, and then a deep man-made moat or ditch (known as the Candida Fossa or Canditch) which ran along the back of the present shops on the south side of George Street (and also along the present Broad Street), thus completing a circuit of flowing water around the city walls.

An intact section of the north side of the city wall runs between Bulwarks Lane and New Inn Hall Street. It starts at the sharp corner of Bulwarks Lane and George Street Mews that marks the point where the lane branched off from the original castle wall. Today it forms the boundary of the former City of Oxford Boys’ High School. This part of the wall is Grade I listed (List Entry No. for the section east of the bastion is 1046609, and for the section west of the bastion 1369704).

History Faculty wall

Bastion 1

This bastion is in the centre of this section of wall, and is Grade I listed (1184380). It was discovered in 1870 by workmen digging the foundations for the Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street.

Bastion 1

East of New Inn Hall Street (the present St Michael's Street)

The wall would then have run continuously all the way to Cornmarket with no need for a gate, because the present New Inn Hall Street (which was formerly known as North Bailey or Seven Deadly Sins Lane) originally only ran northwards as far as the wall, and then swung around to the east. (It was not until 1872 that New Inn Hall was extended to George Street, and the part of New Inn Hall Street at right-angles was renamed St Michael’s Street.)

Bastion 2

This is behind the present 28–32 St Michael's Street at the north-west end and is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047120). No photograph has yet been obtained.

The back boundary all the properties on the north side of St Michael's Street corresponds to the line of the wall.

There is a portion of the city wall left behind the Vanburgh House Hotel at 20–24 St Michael’s Street.

Bastion 3

When the Northgate Hall was built in 1870 on the site of former stables on the site of 18 St Michael's Street, the workmen came upon a bastion in a state of perfect preservation, but part of it had to be removed for the new erection.

Next: North Gate in Cornmarket Next

© Stephanie Jenkins

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