Oxford Inscriptions: Peace Stone, The Plain roundabout

Peace stone in St Clements

was proclaimed
in the City of
JUNE 27 1814

This Peace Stone (photographed in 2004) is on the Plain roundabout, facing north, surmounted by a lamppost.

Grade II listed:
List Entry No. 10458

See also Oxford's other
1814 Peace Stone at Carfax

The stone refers to the Treaty of Paris that was signed on 30 May 1814. Peace was proclaimed in Oxford on 27 June 1814 when Napoleon was imprisoned on Elba, and two peace stones were put up in Oxford to commemorate the event.

Until 1835 St Clement's parish was outside the city of Oxford, and in 1814 the earlier St Clement's Church was still standing here, with the present Plain roundabout being part of its churchyard. It is uncertain where the stone was originally placed: possibly on the west side of the church, marking the entrance to the city at that time.

Peace stone in contextThe peace stone shown in context on the Plain roundabout: photographed in October 2016

The following notice about the forthcoming proclamation of peace appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 25 June 1814:

Peace will be proclaimed in this city on Monday next [27 June 1814], with the usual ceremonies, on which day the Members of the Corporation will dine together in the Town Hall.

In a separate notice in the same edition, the Mayor of Oxford, Joseph Lock, announced the following meeting to be held on Monday 27 June to arrange a thanksgiving day on 7 July:

A General Meeting of the Inhabitants is requested at the Town Hall, on Tuesday next , at Twelve o'clock, to concert measures for gladdening the hearts of the Poor of Oxford on the Seventh of July, being the day appointed for returning thanks to THE AUTHOR OF PEACE.

Jackson's Oxford Journal of Saturday 2 July 1814 reported both on the proclamation that had been made the previous Monday and on the arrangements for the public dinner for the poor to be held on the following Thursday:

On Monday last Peace was proclaimed at all the usual places within this University and City, and with the accustomed forms, by the Mayor, attended by the whole Corporation in procession. The proclamation was greeted with loud cheers by a great number of persons assembled to witness the ceremony; at the conclusion whereof a number of barrels of strong beer were stationed in different quarters of the town to regale all those who choose to partake of them. The Mayor and Corporation, with their friends, afterwards partook of an excellent dinner at the Council Chamber, in celebration of this great event. The company consisted of considerably more than a hundred, who spent the evening in the truest spirit of conviviality, and with the most perfect harmony.

At a general meeting of the inhabitants, holden yesterday at the Town-Hall, it was resolved, that the subscription on foot for providing the poor with the means of celebrating the return of peace, shall be appropriated to the furnishing of a public dinner on Thursday next, being the Thanksgiving Day, to such of the poor as shall be disposed to partake of it; and to the further purpose of supplying similar means of participating in the general festivity, at their own homes, to those of the poor who shall prefer that mode.

G. V. Cox in Reminiscences of Oxford does not mention the peace stones, but recorded the great thanksgiving dinner held in Radcliffe Square (wrongly giving the date as 4 July rather than 7 July 1814):

On the 4th of July a great dinner, set out in the Radcliffe Square, was given (by subscription) to 4000 poor but respectable inhabitants of Oxford, to commemorate “The General Peace, i.e. the best of all Generals,” as was given for their toast.

A later Peace Proclamation in Oxford describing the procedure that would have been followed

The next Proclamation of Peace in the City of Oxford took place on Wednesday 30 April 1856 to mark the end of the Crimean War, and the report on it in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 3 May 1856 describes the “ancient custom” that must also have been followed in  1814.

A civic procession formed at the Town Hall, the Mayor taking the lead, followed by the Aldermen and then the councillors (all in carriages in 1856). The Proclamation was read first at Carfax by the Town Clerk, and the procession then moved to St Mary-the-Virgin Church, in the front of which was a platform on which were ranged the Vice-Chancellor, the Heads of Colleges and Halls, the Proctors, and many other members of the University, and the Town Clerk read the Proclamation again here. They then proceeded to the East Gate where the Proclamation was read for the third time, and then returned to St Aldate’s for a fourth reading at the site of the South Gate . They then passed along Brewer Street to Paradise Street to the West Gate for a fifth reading, and then to the site of the North Gate in Cornmarket Street, where there was a sixth reading before the return to the Town Hall for refreshments.

See also:

  • Wikipedia: Treaty of Paris (1814)
  • G. V. Cox, Reminiscences of Oxford (London: Macmillan & Co, 1868), pp. 73–76, where he describes the “great event” that took place in Oxford in 1814
  • Christopher Danzig, “The big junket” in Oxford Today for Trinity Term 2014 which describes how the victorious sovereigns celebrating the imprisonment of Napoleon descended on Oxford on Tuesday 14 June 1814, with King Frederick William and Marshal Blucher receiving honorary degrees in the Sheldonian Theatre
Stephanie Jenkins