Oxford History: City Wall


The East Gate

East Gate

Until 1771, the East Gate crossed the present High Street just to the east of Merton Street, so the bus (above) would have just passed through the gate into the town. The present Eastgate Hotel on the left commemorates the site, but it is a modern name: the former inn on this site was until 1880 known as the Flying Horse.

Until 1771, the East Gate marked the end of one road and the beginning of another. Bridge Street (also known as Bruggeset or Briggeshythe or Briggeschet) was a narrow road running from the top of Headington Hill to this gate via St Clement’s; and the wider High Street leading to Carfax only started on the west side of the gate.

East Gate by Skelton, 1823Engraving made in 1823 by J. Skelton, an engraver whose address
was Magdalen Bridge, showing the East Gate as it was in 1771,
just before it was removed. Another view by Skelton

The fate of the East Gate was sealed by the Oxford Mileways Act, an Act of Parliament for improving Oxford’s roads passed at Westminster in March 1771, which states in its Second Schedule:

To take down the East Gate, and such Houses and Buildings near or adjoining to it, on the South and North Sides of the said Street, and to purchase such Ground as shall be necessary to render the Street of an equal Width with the High Street.

The East Gate was duly pulled down later in 1771.

The city wall after the East Gate used to continue to run southwards behind the east side of the present Merton Street (then King Street) until it reached Deadman’s Walk in Christ Church Meadow.

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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