St Thomas

Christ Church Model Dwellings, 1866“A tough but full-blooded area”:
The parish of St Thomas the Martyr, West Oxford

A guided walk around one of the most ancient and historic areas of the city. St Thomas’s was among Oxford’s earliest suburbs, first inhabited in Saxon times. In the twelfth century it stood on the direct route between the castle at the west gate of the city, and the great Augustinian Abbey of Oseney.

In later centuries St Thomas’s was home to Oxford’s brewing industry, to its boating and barge communities, and to those who built the railways. It had a reputation as one of the most lively – some might say disreputable – parishes of the city. In the twentieth century St Thomas’s was cleared, together with neighbouring St Ebbe’s, and its close-knit community dispersed. However, this often overlooked area is now set to become the centrepiece of Oxford’s West End Development.

Learn more about this fascinating parish, about the people who made it so rich both culturally and socially, and about the historic buildings which still survive there. The walk includes (by arrangement) a visit to St Thomas’s church (which is usually locked) and a short presentation on its history by the vicar or churchwarden.

We learnt such a lot about this hidden part of Oxford – it was a revelation to me as I worked in the centre of Oxford for nearly twenty years and didn’t know about this area.”  Tricia Buckingham, Association of University Pensioners, March 2019. Read Tricia’s blogpost about the walk [under her pen name of Penny Hampson] here.

“Thank you for the excellent guided tour yesterday. We all found it so interesting and informative. I hope to see you soon as you are a very popular speaker at our WI.”  Barbara Jewell, Horton cum Studley WI, July 2016.

“It was wonderful to see the beautiful and peaceful core of St Thomas’s parish and to hear such a vivid description of life there in the past.”  Janet Keene, Longworth History Society, July 2011.

I want to thank you again on behalf of all my U3A colleagues who went on yesterday’s walk for such a splendid tour. I have had so many appreciative remarks.”  Irene Lusted, Oxford University of the Third Age, May 2009.

“May I express our profound gratitude for your authoritative and delightfully stimulating guided tour of the St Thomas’s area. We were enthralled and enlightened by a history of a part of Oxford of which few will be aware.”
Phil Aldridge, Henley Archaeological and Historical Society, November 2008.

Contact me on 01865 242760 or liz@lizwoolley.co.uk to book this walk.

An illustrated talk on this topic is also available.

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