Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


The City Church, Oxford

Oxford has had a City Church, where the Mayor and Corporation were expected to worship, from about 1122 to the present day.

The first City Church was St Martin’s at Carfax, was demolished in 1896 except for its tower, and the second city church, All Saints, was closed in 1971. The present City Church is St Michael-at-the-Northgate, and the incumbent is still known as the City Rector.

The burgesses had a strong hold over the City Church in previous centuries: they hung their bell in its tower, appointed City Lecturers, and influenced the appointment of the City Rectors.

Mayor’s seat


St Martin’s, Carfax
The first city church, c.1122–1896

All Saints, High Street
The second Oxford city church, 1896–1971

St Michael-at-the-Northgate, Cornmarket
The third city church, 1971–present

The City Lectureship




Above: This fourteenth-century font has stood in three city churches: it was originally at St Martin’s Church, then at All Saints, and is now at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church

Left: The Mayor’s seat that used to be in the City Church. Since January 1997 it has stood in the Town Hall, originally in the entrance lobby and now in the Museum of Oxford area

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 November, 2022

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