Friday, July 24, 2015

Saxon Tower, St. Michael at the North Gate, Oxford, Anglophile Friday


One interesting thing leads to another, and this Saxon tower is no exception. (This is why it takes me such a long time to write this kind of blog post!) Access to the tower is through St. Michael's, City Church of Oxford, parts of which date to the 13th century.



 Saxon Tower of St. Michaels

"If you approached Oxford from the north 950 years ago, coming down St Giles, the most conspicuous building in your line of sight would have been the present church tower, dating from about 1050. It is probably the oldest surviving building in Oxford, rivalled only by the castle tower, and originally situated just within the North Gate, of the city, protected to the north by the city wall." - smng.org.uk



Of course, we had to climb the easy 97 steps to the top of the tower for views of the city, although there were some pretty skinny passageways enroute.

 Martyrs' Door

Sign on the door reads:

"This is the door through which Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, known as the Oxford Martyrs, were led to their deaths. It was the entrance to their cell, originally located in the Bocardo Prison, which was constructed over the North Gate of the city, and could be entered through this tower."


There was a bit more to the sign which didn't make it into the photo, but the fact is, these men were burned at the stake in 1555-1556. Thomas Cranmer, responsible for The Book of Common Prayer, was deemed a traitor by Mary, the reigning Catholic monarch, who had the men put to death.

More of the story...

"Once his appointment [as Archbishop] was approved by the pope, Cranmer declared Henry's marriage to Catherine void, and four months later married him to Anne Boleyn. With Thomas Cromwell, he supported the translation of the bible into English. In 1545, he wrote a litany that is still used in the church. Under the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer was allowed to make the doctrinal changes he thought necessary to the church. In 1549, he helped complete the book of common prayer.
 
"After Edward VI's death, Cranmer supported Lady Jane Grey as successor. Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Mary I, who tried him for treason. After a long trial and imprisonment, he was forced to proclaim to the public his error in the support of Protestantism, an act designed to discourage followers of the religion. Despite this, Cranmer was sentenced to be burnt to death in Oxford on 21 March 1556. He dramatically stuck his right hand, with which he had signed his recantation, into the fire first." -  from this BBC article.

Before his death, Cranmer is supposed to have made a very looong speech, which can be found here. 

According to This Website, "Cranmer five times wrote a letter of submission to the Pope and to Roman Catholic doctrines, and four times he tore it up. In the end, he submitted. However, Mary was unwilling to believe that the submission was sincere, and he was ordered to be burned at Oxford on 21 March 1556. At the very end, he repudiated his final letter of submission, and announced that he died a Protestant."

However, the part that I've found in many sources, including Foxe's Christian Martyrs, is a variation of the following:

'He said, "I have sinned, in that I signed with my hand what I did not believe with my heart. When the flames are lit, this hand shall be the first to burn." And when the fire was lit around his feet, he leaned forward and held his right hand in the fire until it was charred to a stump. Aside from this, he did not speak or move, except that once he raised his left hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead.'

I realize there was some repetition in the above paragraphs, but I think you can piece it together. The point is, Cranmer, whose Book of Common Prayer is used by the Anglican communion today, and the other two martyrs, walked to their executions through that door that you see in the photo above. So the tower wasn't just any old tower. I don't know how people in England get anything at all done. There's just way too much to see and learn!


 

Now, finally, are the views of the city as seen from the tower:



 One of the locals who frequently hangs out at the tower



Bells, viewed from the landing


Find them on Amazon:
The Book of Common Prayer
Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Have a great weekend, everyone!

***

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42 comments:

Mrs.Rabe said...

Judy,

Thank you for taking the time to include the history. I have a relative who was a Scots Covenanter martyr. There is so much to learn from the past.

Thanks for the wonderful photos, too!

Deanna

eileeninmd said...

Good morning. what a great post! There is so much history to learn, thanks for sharing! I love the views of the city, church tower and the bells. Happy Friday, have a great weekend!

Deb said...

That was fascinating.

Cathy said...

I truly enjoyed reading your history lesson. It was so very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

Linda Kay said...

Judy, we have climbed up stairs at several of these old cathedrals in Europe, the highest one in Germany. The steps are in really good condition compared to some we have been in, and the view is absolutely stunning.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm also glad you take the time to give us so much information and history about the places you visit. I love reading historical novels and even the mystery I'm reading now is set in London. Enjoy your day! Hugs!

TexWisGirl said...

a neat tower that shows off the older buildings around, too.

Cheryl said...

I, too, like knowing the accompanying history. I especially like Foxe's account. It is inspiring to hear the stories of those who gave their lives to be true to God. It causes me to examine my own heart.

Sandra said...

I like this very old and very square tower, it is what i think of when i read the word Saxon in a book... glad you took the inside pics of it. and i like the little visitor pigeon guarding the church

Sandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vee said...

So odd as I was just reading some of this history this very week...will send you a link why shortly. You do know, I'm sure, that some Anglophiles such as yourself, know more Brit history than many Brits themselves. They rather think of you folks as odd ducks. LOL! Fascinating history. And it was also interesting to think of the tower being highly visible and not as it is today. You made me laugh with the photo of one of the locals.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

I agree with Vee, Judy we are the odd ducks and we're proud of it! Thank you so much for sharing the history of this tower. We hope to one day visit the Oxford area and expore with great detail as you have. Have a lovely weekend! ♥

Margaret Adamson said...

Wonderful post and thanks for all the history about this place.I especailly love the images of the bells. Have a great weekend.

Joanne Noragon said...

I've joshed my English sister and brother-in-law, it's a wonder their island hasn't sunk under the weight of its history.
Your pictures, are, as ever, fabulous.

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

Great post as usual, CM. Great photos, great history. I have a dreadful feeling that your chum, Vee, may be right; but there's quite a lot to know! It's a shame people don't learn from history though, isn't it?

Jacquelineand.... said...

What a stunning church, the architecture is wondrous; I always find it a pity that so much time is wasted with hate and killing though.

Denise said...

such lovely pictures.

Mildred said...

Truly wonderful pictures/info. I love the view from the roof! Hope your weekend is very nice.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Oh the historical value of this area of our world...what a marvel!!!
Beautiful images, just thinking of the 13th century boggles my mind.
Oh, and LOVE the 'local resident' too.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

I remember Anne of a Thousand Days movie from years ago / also a PBS series on Elizabeth starring Glenda Jackson.. : )

Those two influenced my interest for years to come

Terri D said...

How interesting!! I thought the bell tower at the Cathedral in St. Marks Square, Venice, Italy, was amazing. Wow to the history lesson you just gave us!

McGuffy Ann Morris said...

This is fascinating. I love it. Excellent post!

Weekend-Windup said...

WOW! amazing pictures. Loved to see them!

eileeninmd said...

Judy, thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post today. Have a happy weekend!

Missy George said...

Very interesting..Love the stone walls..Looks like something out of Charles Dickens..Have a good weekend..

Anita Johnson said...

This was fascinating. And then there are the beautiful photos...the roof tops might be my favorites!

Marcia said...

Thank you for the history lesson. What an intriguing place. Maybe I'll get there one day.

"...E...", from VA, Beth said...

what a gorgeous area. i love the bell. i want to visit there and see how that amazing architecture. ( :
i love the picture of you and your husband. i think that is new. so cute. what do they call that ... the better half ... wait ... maybe you are the better half ... but you know what i mean. i hope. ha ... ha!!!

Tom said...

What a delight. The first photo of the bell is wonderful. Tom The Backroads Traveller

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Lovely!!! The old architecture of days gone by and still standing!!!
Wonderful photos!!!

Jeri Landers said...

I find all of British History fascinating and eat it up like a glutton! Like Vee and Martha, I think we Americans have a greater appreciation than some of the Brits... maybe it is because, for most of us, that is OUR heritage as well. The story of Queen Mary and Thomas Cranmer is a case in point. Walking up those steps, walking through that doorway would be so exciting to me. Queen Mary earned her moniker of Bloody Mary.. although, from what I have read, QUeen Elizabeth was no saint when it came to having folks executed. I wonder, have you ever been to any of the Priest Holes? There is a post I would to read!

GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

Oh, how I have enjoyed each of the photos here and reading the history! Thanks for taking the time to create this great post!

Tired Teacher said...

Amazing photos of the construction and the architecture. I love reading the history behind the tower: it makes me appreciate those who walked where you walked.

Bill Nicholls said...

You beat me on that one. I have only stood at the outside of the church, nice to see inside. Maybe I will get the chance one of these days to visit. I think I read somewhere that while they burned one martyr the others had to watch from the tower. I visted the palce they were killed nearby a while ago.

Bruce Clark said...

Love seeing the bells and interior shots. Nicely done.

podso said...

Thanks for the wonderful history lesson illustrated by your photos. Like you said, so much history there, we can't begin to compete in our country. Enjoyed seeing your family reunion photos! Looks like a lot of fun!

Jessy Skehan said...

Such a historical place! And your photos are wonderful!

Ida said...

Those bells are so cool looking and wow the views from the tower were just amazing.
I really enjoyed your tour of this historical place.

Parlor Room Ponderings said...

That was very interesting. I volunteer at a faith-based women's home and I share a devotional with them every other week. I've done a lot of church history so they understand the blood, sweat, and tears of those before us so that we can have what we have today. I recently shared about John Wycliffe. Visiting from Roses of Inspiration. Have a great week! Diane

Carrie B. said...

History like this is so fascinating, but even more so when you can see the real thing. I'm with you - I wouldn't get anything done if I lived there...I'd just want to go tour everything! ;)

Stephanie said...

Beautiful pictures and rich history makes for the perfect post :) It was a delight to read these words, my friend. Thanks for sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Have a blessed Sunday. Hugs!

Michelle F said...

Judy,

This is a very interesting post. Thanks!

Blessings,
Michelle

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