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Oxford, St Mary the Virgin

Oxford, St Mary the Virgin. University and parish church. Adopted as the centre of the fledgling medieval university, St Mary's was the seat of its government, academic disputation, and award of degrees until the mid-17th cent.; the attached Old Congregation House (c.1320) contained the first university library. Considerably rebuilt in the perpendicular style, it hosted the trials of the Oxford martyrs (Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer) in 1554–6, gained the Laudian ‘Virgin porch’ whose Marian statue so incensed the puritans, heard Wesley and Newman preach, and saw the launch of the ‘Oxford’ or ‘tractarian’ movement for the revival of catholic spirituality.

A. S. Hargreaves

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