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Parish boundaries: St Mary-the-Virgin


The original parish boundary of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin remained unchanged until 2009, when it took in the parish of St Cross with St Peter-in-the East, making the parish about three times as big as it was before.

Their boundary stones are inscribed with a St Andrew’s cross.

The stones mark the following parish boundaries of St Mary-the-Virgin Church:

  • With St John the Baptist parish, whose church is now Merton College Chapel: its parish was incorporated into that of St Peter-in-the-East  in 1891
  • With St Peter-in-the-East parish, whose church is now deconsecrated and used as St Edmund Hall Library. The parish of St Peter-in-the-East was first incorporated into that of St Cross, but that church too has now been deconsecrated, and its enlarged parish has been taken into that of St Mary-the Virgin, making some of the boundary stones quite redundant.
  • With All Saints parish, whose church was deconsecrated in 1971 and is now Lincoln College Library
  • With St Michael-at-the-Northgate parish, whose church is now the City Church

All Souls College

East end of All Souls College

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Peter-in-the-East. Latterly the boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Cross

5 Bear Lane

5 Bear Lane

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and All Saints. Now boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Michael-at-the-Northgate

Brasenose Lane

Brasenose Lane

The point where St Mary-the-Virgin, All Saints, and St Michael-at-the-Northgate parish once met. Now boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Michael-at-the-Northgate

Corner of Bodleian

SW corner of Bodleian Library

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and All Saints. Now the boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Michael

6 Magpie Lane

6 Magpie Lane

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St John the Baptist and inscribed SJB. Latterly boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Cross

7 Magpie Lane

7 Magpie Lane

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St John the Baptist. Dated 1818 and inscribed CJ?W. Latterly boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Cross

Magpie Lane boundary marker

Magpie Lane

Formerly parish boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St John the Baptist. Latterly boundary of St Mary-the-Virgin and St Cross

 

 

The Church of St Mary the Virgin has other boundary markers inside University, Brasenose, All Souls, Hertford, and Oriel Colleges: these are not on the public highway and so are not shown here.

 

As can be seen from the chalked “SMNG” on two of the above stones, the Church of St Michael-at-the-Northgate also marks some of the boundary stones put up by St Mary’s, as the two parishes are contiguous.

The beating of the bounds of St Mary the Virgin Church

Following Ascension Day Communion at 8.30am, the Vicar sets out from St Mary-the-Virgin Church with the congregation and some boys from New College School. The procession first stops at the cross on the outside wall of Brasenose College on the High: that happens to be a St Michael’s cross, but all the rest are the diagonal ones of St Mary-the-Virgin, starting with two inside Brasenose College. The procession then moves up to the marker at the south-west corner of the Bodleian Library, and on to Broad Street to the one on a pillar of the Clarendon Building. It then goes back down Catte Street to All Souls College, and beats the markers inside. It then goes on to beat the two markers in University College, and the boys are rewarded with sweets thrown from an upstairs window (it used to be burning-hot coins). One marker gets beaten in Magpie Lane, and two inside Oriel College; and the job is then done.

Beating the bounds on Ascension Day 2010

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013