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Carfax, Oxford

lloyds bank carfax oxford, carfax oxford england
Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate's south, Cornmarket Street north, Queen Street west and the High Street east in Oxford, England1 It is considered to be the centre of the city, and is at 51°45′07″N 1°15′29″W / 51752°N 1258°W / 51752; -1258Coordinates: 51°45′07″N 1°15′29″W / 51752°N 1258°W / 51752; -1258 The name "Carfax" derives from the Latin "quadrifurcus" via the French "carrefour", both of which mean "crossroads"


  • 1 Tower
  • 2 Events
  • 3 Role in legislation
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Sources and further reading
  • 7 External links


View from the top of St Martin's Tower

St Martin's Tower, popularly called "Carfax Tower", is on the northwest corner of Carfax It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin's Church2 and is now owned by the Oxford City Council It was the official City Church of Oxford,3 where the Mayor and Corporation were expected to worship, between about 1122 and 1896, when the main part of the church was demolished to make more room for road traffic In 1896 the City Church was moved to All Saints Church in the High Street

The tower is 74 feet 23 m tall, and no building in central Oxford may be built higher than it4 It is a Grade II listed building5

The tower still has a ring of six bells: five recast from the original ring by Richard Keene of Woodstock in 1676, plus another cast by Keene two years later6 They are rung on special occasions by the Oxford Society of Change Ringers

There is also a clock that chimes the quarter hours on a pair of bells cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 18986 The clock's current dial and surroundings were designed by Sir TG Jackson and installed in 1898 In 1938–39 the clock mechanism was replaced with an electric one made by Gents' of Leicester7

It is possible to climb to the top of the tower for a view of the Oxford skyline8 The tower is open 10am–530pm Easter to October, and 10am–330pm October to Easter


Grade II-listed K2 telephone kiosk beside St Martin's tower

The St Scholastica Day riot of 1355 began with an altercation in the Swindlestock Tavern now the site of the Santander Bank on the southwest corner of Carfax, between St Aldate's and Queen Street between two students and the taverner

In 1865 William Henry Butler, who had been Mayor of Oxford in 1836, was buried in St Martin's churchyard in the grave of his first wife Elizabeth Briggs and their two infant daughters In 1900 the church was demolished to make way for road improvements and as a consequence the grave and tombstone were forgotten It is probable the tombstone was made by either John Gibbs of Oxford father of Butler's second wife or one of Gibbs's employees The tombstone is still in situ and can be seen behind the tower There is a campaign to protect the tombstone for posterity9

Role in legislationedit

Comparable to St Mary the Great for the University of Cambridge, Carfax plays a role in the disciplinary legislation of the University of Oxford over its students For instance, the University's residence requirements are defined in terms of a given number of miles from Carfax within which students have to reside10

See alsoedit

  • Carfax Conduit
  • Carfax Tutorial Establishment


  1. ^ "This webcam is on the 14th Century Carfax Tower, facing east" Webcams BBC 
  2. ^ Jenkins, Stephanie 11 September 2012 "St Martin's Church" Oxford History: Mayors and Lord Mayors 
  3. ^ Jenkins, Stephanie 11 September 2012 "The City Church, Oxford" Oxford History: Mayors and Lord Mayors 
  4. ^ "Oxford City Council Local Plan" Retrieved 26 October 2016 
  5. ^ Historic England "Carfax Tower Tower of the Church of St Martin Carfax 1047353" National Heritage List for England Retrieved 17 December 2014 
  6. ^ a b Williams, Michael 20 November 2011 "Oxford Carfax Tower" Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Retrieved 17 December 2014 
  7. ^ Beeson & Simcock 1989, p 58
  8. ^ "Carfax Tower" Visit Oxfordshire Retrieved 17 December 2014 
  9. ^ "William Henry Butler, Mayor of Oxford 1836" 17 May 2008 
  10. ^ http://wwwadminoxacuk/examregs/2014-15/rfrintheuniv/

Sources and further readingedit

  • Beeson, CFC 1989 1962 Simcock, AV, ed Clockmaking in Oxfordshire 1400–1850 3rd ed Oxford: Museum of the History of Science pp 55–58 ISBN 0 903364 06 9 
  • Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus 1974 Oxfordshire The Buildings of England Harmondsworth: Penguin Books pp 306–307 ISBN 0-14-071045-0 
  • Tyack, Geoffrey 1998 Oxford An Architectural Guide Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press pp 96–98 ISBN 0-19-817423-3 

External linksedit

  • Map sources for Carfax, Oxford
  • Wilkes, DC 2009 "William Henry Butler Carfax Oxford" 
  • Ross, David "Carfax Tower" Britain Express 

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