University Church and Old Library

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin forms one side of Radcliffe Square in the historic heart of Oxford. Its tower offers panoramic views of the city and its decorated spire is the centrepiece of the ‘dreaming spires’.

Save the abbey church of Westminster, no church within this realm ... possesses associations comparable to those attaching to St Mary’s; round none do the memories of a great past cluster more thickly.

Sir T.G. Jackson, 1896

The Old Congregation House (1320) is the University’s oldest building, with the original Old Library above, and administration and treasury below.

Historically the church has seen the trial of Thomas Cranmer, the preaching of John Wesley, J.H. Newman’s Oxford Movement, and the founding of Oxfam.

Today St Mary’s welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world and is used by the University and community for services, ceremonies, concerts, lectures and other educational purposes.

Now more of a public building than at any time in its history, there is a pressing need to raise £5m to:

  • Refurbish the 'Old Library' with a lift and modern facilities to make it accessible to a wider public. This historic room will be an important new venue for events and conferences.
  • Make extensive repairs to the exterior stonework and spire.
  • Establish a Learning Centre to present the history of the church and University, with an exhibition, tours and talks.
  • Restore the church interior including windows, memorials and 15th Century choir stalls.
  • Redevelop the West End to provide modern facilities for visitors and administration. 

 All gifts to the University Church and Old Library are gratefully received. To find out more visit the ways to give section.