St. Giles Church is an attractive 12th-century parish church just north of the city center of Oxford. It was consecrated by St. Hugh of Lincoln at a time when this area was outside of the main town center. Now it provides an oasis of calm in a busy area of the city.
History of the Church of St Giles
Oxford's St. Giles Church is first mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, which recorded that the owner of the land north of the city intended to build a Romanesque-style church on it. The church was finished in 1120, but not consecrated until 1200. In 1138, the Empress Matilda and her son Henry Plantagenet (the future Henry II) granted the church and all its property to the newly created Godstow Priory.
At the time of its founding, the St. Giles Church stood in the midst of fields and there were no buildings between it and the city walls, which was marked by the Church of St Michael at the North Gate. The city had a population of about 1,000, all crowded inside the walls. Over the centuries, houses and other buildings began to gather around the church and today it lies between two busy streets.
It was St. Hugh of Lincoln, the great Carthusian monk and bishop, who consecrated St Giles Church in 1200 AD. A cross of interlaced circles incised on the western column of the tower is said to commemorate this act. And it was also in commemoration of this consecration that the St Giles' Fair was founded. The fair still takes place today, on the Monday and Tuesday after the Sunday following St. Giles' Day (September 1). St. Hugh also expanded the nearby Church of St. Mary Magdalene in 1194.
Upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1535, St Giles Church and its lands were given to Dr George Owen of Godstow, a physician of Henry VIII. His son conveyed it in 1573 to Sir Thomas White, Lord Mayor of London, who in 1555 had refounded the Cistercian House of St Bernard as St. John's College. White settled the church on his newly established College, which has presented vicars to the church ever since.
Quick Facts on the Church of St Giles
|Names:||Church of St Giles · St. Giles Church|
|Categories:||churches; parish churches; Grade I listed buildings|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.759181° N, 1.260467° W|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Church of St Giles|
- Author visits (2006-07)
- St Giles Church - official website
- Photos of the Church of St Giles - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Church of St Giles, Oxford
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Church of St Giles. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.