The Bocardo gaol

The Bocardo in 1770

The Bocardo Prison stood at the North Gate of the city of Oxford by the thirteenth century. This gate spanned Cornmarket immediately to the north of the present St Michael’s Street and St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church. Hence Cornmarket was known as North Gate Street until 1536, when a covered area was erected there to facilitate the selling of corn.

By the seventeenth century the prison extended over the North Gate itself. The above engraving, made in 1771 just before the Bocardo Prison and the North Gate were demolished, shows the view from the north end of Cornmarket, with St Michael's Church on the left just to the south of the gate. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Bishops Latimer and Ridley were kept in this prison before being burnt at the stake in 1555–6.

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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