Oxford City Churches
"Good Lord, as the angelus floats down the road,
Byzantine St Barnabas, be Thine Abode."
– John Betjeman
Oxford has always been a powerhouse of religious thought, and even today the number of active churches per head is probably greater than anywhere in the country.
All the churches depicted here fall within the broad spectrum of the Church of England, which embraces Anglo-Catholicism (St Barnabas, St Mary Magdalene), Evangelism (St Aldate's), stark Protestantism (St Ebbe's) and everything in between. Oxford also has establishments for Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, United Reformists, Christian Scientists, Christadelphians, and Pentecostalists, not to mention the Eastern Orthodox church, the Synagogue, and the Mosque.
Anglo-Catholicism or 'High Church' grew from the Oxford Movement of the 1830s and '40s; Keble, Newman and Pusey were the key figures. The movement's attempts to bring about a spiritual revival in the Church of England gripped Oxford to an extent it would be hard to imagine today. Tempers ran high at meetings, churches were packed for sermons, and tracts and condemnations flew back and forth. Newman eventually joined the Roman Catholic Church, to the desolation of his followers, though Keble and Pusey remained within the Church of England. Littlemore contains both RC and Anglican churches connected strongly to Newman.
St Mary the Virgin is the University Church, and the University sermon is preached here on Sundays in full term. The city church is now St Michael at the Northgate, and the ancient ceremony of beating the bounds of the city still takes place from here at dawn on Ascension Day (late May/early June).
As well as catering for most religious tastes, the city is, of course, a campanologist's paradise.