St Giles’ Church

St Giles' Church

The Church of St Giles was probably built as a private church by Edwin, son of Godegose, between 1123 and 1133, but soon had a huge but thinly populated parish of its own stretching northwards as far as the present northern bypass, and extending from Walton Street in the West to to the River Cherwell in the east. St John’s College has held the advowson of the church since 1553.

It is Grade I listed (List Entry No. 1047140).

St Giles' Church

The church was damaged during the siege of Oxford in the Civil War, and in 1643 its furniture was burnt by parliamentary troops who were being held prisoner in the church.

St Giles' Church in 1834

The church was originally well north of the Oxford city wall, and the above print dating from 1834 shows that it was then still in a rural setting.

As Norham and Walton Manors were developed and Summertown grew, the church must have been very full. It lost Summertown when that village got a church of its own in 1834, and when in 1837 St Paul's Church opened, a slice of St Giles' parish became part of its district chapelry. Then in 1863 St Philip & St James (which originally included the present St Margaret's parish) took over a large section of St Giles' parish.

Inside the church there is a fine monument to the former Mayor of Oxford Henry Bosworth that was put up by his wife in 1683.

Burials of people who lived in the parish

(1) To 1848, many thousands of burials took place In the churchyard (or inside the church as well in early years). In 1848 St Giles' churchyard along with the other ancient churchyards in the city of Oxford was closed , except for a very small number of additional burials in existing graves. Burials in Oxford henceforth took place in three parish cemeteries.

(2) From 1848 (23 September), burials took place In St Sepulchre's Cemetery in Walton Street. This was a parish cemetery for four churches, and the section belonging to St Giles' Church is the second one from the right (north). The register of St Giles' Church continued to record burials in the same way as before, treating its area in St Sepulchre's Cemetery as part of its churchyard. You can read the biographies of many of the people of St Giles' parish who were buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery here.

(3) From 1894 many burials of the parish were likely to have taken place in the non-denominational Wolvercote Cemetery, which opened that year. Then in 1939 Oxford Crematorium opened.

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

Oxford History home