Oxford History: City Wall


North wall: New College

One-twelfth of the whole town wall was incorporated into New College (founded 1379), and it has survived virtually intact. It includes five bastions (Nos. 11–15).

Start of wall in New College

Above: The city wall viewed from outside at the west side of New College. Unlike the other older buildings of the college, the bell tower (right) stands outside the wall. One bastion was cut through to give access to the Slype (where the moat formerly ran)

New College: north rangeThe north wall, viewed from inside

North stepsDetail of the rampart walk, with surviving stone steps, inside the wall

The Warden and Scholars of New College bound themselves and their successors:

to keep in reparation so much of the north and east wall of the said town that should include the said College, and that also they make a gate or postern on each side of the said wall at the extent of the College limits, to the end that the Mayor and Bailiffs of Oxford may, once every three years, enter and pass through them, to see whether the said wall be kept in a competent manner of reparation, and also that the commonalty of the said town might have free passage in times of war through the said posterns for the defence of the said town.

The Lord Mayor still duly inspects the walls each year: see report of 2008 inspection.

North bastion

One of the bastions: above, from outside the wall; below, from the inside

Inside of bastion

The north town wall in New College reaches the further eastern point of the medieval town, and then turns the corner and runs south.

When William of Wykeham bought the land for New College from the City of Oxford in1379, the latter made it a condition that the college should maintain the wall that runs around the site. The Lord Mayor of Oxford and a group of city councillors still inspect the city wall at New College every three years, entering by the non-licet gate in New College Lane.

Next: East Wall in New College Next

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 October, 2017

City Wall home Small Shark Oxford History home