Carfax Tower in Oxford…

Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate’s (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) in Oxford, England.[1] It is considered to be the centre of the city, and is at  The name “Carfax” derives from the Latin “quadrifurcus” via the French “carrefour”, both of which mean “crossroads”.


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 Church[2] 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 it.[4] It is a Grade II* listed building.[5]

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 later.[6] 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 1898.[6] 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 Leicester.[7]

It is possible to climb to the top of the tower for a view of the Oxford skyline.[8] The tower is open 10am–5.30pm Easter to October, and 10am–3.30pm October to Easter.


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