Oxford History: City Wall

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North wall, with Bastions 4 & 5, between Ship St and Broad St


Broad Street was just outside the city, and the line of the north wall is preserved by the boundary separating properties on the north side of Ship Street from those on the south side of Broad Street.

There used to be a lane outside the city wall, and then a deep man-made moat or ditch (known as the Candida Fossa or Canditch) which ran along the back of the present shops on the south side of Broad Street and also along the present George Street, thus completing a circuit of flowing water around the city walls.

Bastion 4

This bastion, which survives at the rear of Jesus College's Bastion Building at 2 Ship Street, used to be a highlight of the ttrain ride of the Oxford Story that between 1986 and 200 operated from the current Mountain Warehouse next to Boswell's.

Known as the Martyr’s bastion, it may mark the spot where Cranmer stood to observe the burning of Ridley and Latimer nearby in Broad Street. It is a Grade I listed structure (List Entry No. 1184408):

It can sometimes be seen if Boswell's in Broad Street has the gate of their yard open (below):

Boswell's

Below is the view of this bastion from Jesus College's Bastion Building (private property) in Ship Street:

Bastion 4 from Jesus's Bastion Building

The engraving below shows this bastion in 1834, when it was visible from Miss Hoskyns’s garden in Broad Street. (The 1841 census shows Miss Hoskins [sic] living at the south-west end of Broad Street.)

Miss Hoskins' bastion

 

Bastion 5

This survives at the back boundary of 17 Broad Street (now Oxfam) and 14–15 Ship Street (the appropriately named Tower House Hotel), and is part of the kitchen of the lattert. It is a Grade II listed structure (List Entry No. 1047090).

Broad from hub

The wall to the east of Bastion 5

The photograph on the right, taken from the Hub on the corner of Ship Street and Turl Street, looks down on the outdoor seating area of Morton's Café at No. 22. It shows a small portion of the city wall to the east of Bastion 5.

 
 
Twirling postern gate

At the end of Ship Street was the twirling postern gate in the wall (designed to keep cattle out of the town) that gave Turl Street its name. It was demolished in 1722.

From Turl Street to the Smith Gate at Catte Street

The continuation of the wall to the south of Broad Street after the junction with Turl Street has completely disappeared because of the large and important buildings that were built straddling its line, namely Exeter College, the Museum of the History of Science, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the quadrangle behind the Clarendon Building. .

From the southern end of the Sheldonian, the wall travelled north-east to meet Catte Street at Smith Gate.


Next: Smith Gate in Catte Street Next

© Stephanie Jenkins

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