Holywell Gallows

1876 map showing site of gallows

The 1876 map of Oxford (above) shows the site of the Holywell Gallows, which were just outside the wall of the old town at the crossroads where Holywell Street, Longwall Street, St Cross Road, and Benseval Street all met. (Benseval Street was later absorbed into the grove of Magdalen College.) The gallows belonged to Holywell Manor, and Merton College, the Lord of the Manor, established its right to them in 1377.

Site of gallows

Plaque on wall of No. 100


Right: Plaque on the wall of 100 Holywell Street (shown above) commemorating the execution here on 5 July 1589 of four Catholic martyrs: more information

These gallows are sometimes described as the “Gownsmen’s Gallows”, but there is no reliable evidence for this, and the alleged execution here of two undergraduates for highway robbery reported to have been witnessed by Dr Routh, the President of Magdalen, appears to have been a myth.

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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