BBC History Magazine

HISTORY EXPLORER The Oxford Martyrs

Source: The cobbled stone cross on Broad Street where the martyrs burned

The elegant spire of University Church, Oxford, is a distinctive sight on the city skyline

Hundreds flocked into University Church to watch the trial – guilty verdicts had long been a foregone conclusion

The sandy buildings around cobbled Radcliffe Square in the heart of Oxford shine golden in the crisp morning sunshine. Dominating the surrounding colleges are two of the most distinctive features of the city’s skyline: the circular Radcliffe Camera, with its Corinthian columns and stone dome, and University Church.

The church’s square 13th-century tower, topped with a slender spire, is adorned with statues and grimacing gargoyles. Wait long enough and the bells will melodically toll the hour, accompanied by peals echoing from churches across the city. From early morning, tourists flock inside to climb the tower’s 127 steps, eager to enjoy panoramic views across the city.

But it’s more than just the views that attracts more than 400,000 visitors to University Church every year. Its 700-year history has shaped

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from BBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine2 min read
Fire Destroys the Crystal Palace
When, at seven o’clock on the evening of 30 November 1936, Sir Henry Buckland stepped out of his front door to take his dog for their evening stroll, he could scarcely have imagined what lay ahead. For more than 20 years, Sir Henry had been the manag
BBC History Magazine12 min read
Did Fear Drive Richard to the Throne?
In his desire to obtain the protectorate, something he believed was his right, Richard had potentially engineered his own downfall Westminster, February 1483. Richard, Duke of Gloucester was a man who seemed to have the world at his feet. Now aged
BBC History Magazine1 min read
Welcome
“Popular interest in Richard III seems to show little sign of abating, as his first place in our recent History Hot 100 poll confirmed. But is there really anything more to say about him? Well, according to Chris Skidmore, author of this month’s cove