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Parish boundaries in central Oxford


St Michael's mark at Brasenose

City Church of Michael at the Northgate:
SIX boundary markers

 

St Mary the Virgin marker in Magpie Lane

University Church of St Mary the Virgin:
EIGHT boundary markers

Nando's parish marker

Boundary Stone where St Mary Magdalen parish
meets St Peter-le-Bailey parish

 

Stone in Marks & Spencer

Boundary stone where three parishes meet
inside Marks & Spencer

Reports by Anthony Wood on the beating of the bounds of St John-the-Baptist Church
in 1682 and 1683, and the dispute with the adjacent parish of St Peter-in-the-East

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

Since medieval times the annual beating of the bounds has confirmed the extent of a parish’s jurisdiction and responsibilities.

The City Church of St Michael-at-the-Northgate and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin always beat their bounds on Ascension Day (the fortieth day of Easter and thus always on a Thursday). Because a number of 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.

Stephanie Jenkins