Parish boundaries in central Oxford

St Michael's mark at Brasenose

City Church of Michael at the
Northgate boundary markers

Stone in Marks & Spencer

Boundary stone inside
Marks & Spencer

St Mary the Virgin marker in Magpie Lane

University Church of St Mary
the Virgin boundary markers

In all there are about thirty parish boundary markers in central Oxford. The ones that are on private property (including colleges) are not shown on this website.

An exception is made for the rather special boundary stone in Marks & Spencer (above) because it can easily be seen during shop opening hours. It used to be on the street (before the alley in which it stood was engulfed by the surrounding shop).

The Beating of the Bounds

This takes place each Ascension Day, the fortieth day of Easter, so is always on a Thursday. In medieval times the annual “beating of the bounds” confirmed the extent of a parish’s jurisdiction and responsibilities. The only two Oxford churches which keep up the custom today are the City Church of St Michael-at-the-Northgate, and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

Because a number of small central Oxford parishes have been amalgamated, they now share a large section of boundary, with the result that they both pass through Brasenose College on their perambulation.
See that college's page about the ceremony

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013