CORNMARKET, OXFORD

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St Martin’s Church, SW end of Cornmarket Street


St Martin’s Church at Carfax

The engraving above and photograph below show the extent to which the Church of St Martin used to be part of Cornmarket Street. The engraving, made in 1836, shows the new church which had opened 14 years before in June 1822; while the photograph below was taken by Henry Taunt shortly before it was demolished in 1896 to make room for traffic at Carfax. Only its medieval tower has survived throughout and is still present today.

St Martin’s Church

Carfax Church in 2004

The original St Martin’s (or Carfax) church was built in the early eleventh century. It became the town church in medieval times, and in the reign of Henry II was probably used for council meetings. It is situated centrally at Carfax, a stone’s throw from the early Guildhall and the later Town Hall in St Aldate’s.

By 1820 it had become unsafe, and was demolished (except for its tower) and replaced by the large church shown above. This in turn was demolished in 1896, and again the medieval tower was preserved

St Martin's at Carfax was the City Church where the Mayor and Corporation worshipped. For more details about its history, see its page on the Oxford Mayors website, and also its section in the
Victoria County History

 

Right: the surviving medieval tower

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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