Christ Church Picture Gallery
Christ Church's impressive stash of precious masterpieces dates from 1300 to 1750, and has a particular focus on the Italian...
Christ Church Cathedral
From the Christ Church college quad, you access 12th-century Christ Church Cathedral. It was originally the abbey church and then the...
University Church of St Mary the Virgin
With a tower dating from 1280 and a Perpendicular Gothic nave, this relatively unadorned church is most famous as the site of the 1556...
Arguably Oxford’s oldest pub (there’s been a pub on this site since 1242), the atmospherically creaky Bear requires all but the most...
Popular for its smart, contemporary decor, lively atmosphere and super-central location, Quod dishes up modern brasserie-style food to...
Merton St · interesting places nearby
Merton College information
Founded in 1264, Merton is the oldest of Oxford’s three original colleges (the other two being Balliol and University) and the first to adopt collegiate planning, bringing scholars and tutors together into a formal community and providing a planned residence for them. Its distinguishing architectural features include large gargoyles, whose expressions suggest that they’re about to throw up, and the charming 14th-century Mob Quad – the first of the college quads.
Just off the quad is a 13th-century chapel and the Old Library (admission on guided tour only), the oldest medieval library in use (look for the chained books). It is said that Tolkien, a Merton English professor, spent many hours here writing The Lord of the Rings and that the trees in the Fellows’ Garden inspired the ents of Middle Earth. Other literary giants associated with Merton include TS Eliot and Louis MacNeice; Thomas Bodley, founder of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, was a fellow here.
From July to September, you can join 40-minute guided tours of the college grounds (£5). Also in summer, keep an eye out for posters advertising candlelit concerts in the chapel.
Behind Merton College is the ominously named Dead Man’s Walk , so called because the medieval Jewish community, who were not allowed to bury their dead within the city, would take bodies along this route to the Jewish cemetery (now the Botanic Garden).