Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy


The tower of St Michael at the North Gate Church to be refurbished

3 Jun 2024

Photo of St Michael at the North Gate Church against a blue sky

As many in the Lincoln community might know, the oldest building in Oxford is the tower of St Michael at the North Gate Church on the corner of Cornmarket and Ship St.

Our College is the Patron of this church, and relationships are strong and cordial, e.g. the Parish annual Beating of the Bounds on Ascension Day ends up with a lunch at Lincoln. You may be interested to know that the tower is being refurbished and repaired, and St Michael’s has asked this news to be spread through our community, in case anyone would like to learn more or be involved.

This is what the church has written: 

Since 2021, we have been planning the refurbishment and redecoration of the Saxon tower. The last major work was completed in the 1980s and the tower is no longer in the same pristine condition as the rest of the church. As more than 10,000 people climb the tower each year, its appearance should highlight its history and architectural significance as well as reflect the church’s custodianship of this important structure. 

Initial work on the Tower Project revealed that the roof is in a poor condition, so our first priority is to make it watertight. As this will require scaffolding, some of the refurbishment work will be completed at the same time. This includes the installation of new windows, to provide better views of the city as well as the tower’s architectural features. Other maintenance work will be completed while the scaffolding is in place. 

While we are seeking funds to make the tower watertight, generous grants from the Oxford Historic Churches Trust and the Tambour Foundation will cover some of these costs. The Tambour Foundation's grant will also support work on how we interpret the Saxon tower, St Michael’s, the North Gate, and their place in the city’s history. Subject to finances, the Treasury will be redesigned for the better conservation, display and interpretation of our historic artefacts, church plate and documents. 

The diocese has welcomed the outline proposal for the Tower Project, but in the months ahead we need to finalise these proposals, obtain the necessary approvals for the restoration and refurbishment, as well as raise the funds to finance it. Although we are applying for grants, even if successful they will not cover the full cost of this work. We are therefore seeking donations to support this Project and secure the Saxon Tower for the next generation. 

It feels such a privilege to be able to be part of renewing this historic building, not only for the stones and mortar, views and displays, but as part of our welcome to people from all backgrounds as they seek recreational, educational and spiritual refreshment at the heart of Oxford.


Where next?

  • Ascension Day 2024 Under Blue Skies!Read more