Martyrs' Memorial, Oxford
The Martyrs' Memorial is a stone monument positioned at the intersection of St Giles', Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street, just outside Balliol College, Oxford, England. It commemorates the 16th-century "Oxford Martyrs".
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the monument was completed in 1843 after two years' work, having replaced "a picturesque but tottering old house". The Victorian Gothic memorial, whose design dates from 1838, has been likened to the steeple of a cathedral, though it was consciously patterned on the crosses King Edward I erected between 1290 and 1294 to the memory of his wife, Queen Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290). The three statues of Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley are by Henry Weekes. The monument is listed at grade II*.
The inscription on the base of the Martyrs' Memorial reads:
To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI.
He who enters the city, as Mr Green did, from the Woodstock Road, and rolls down the shady avenue of St Giles', between St John's College and the Taylor Buildings, and past the graceful Martyrs' Memorial, will receive impressions such as probably no other city in the world could convey.
The actual site of the execution is close by in Broad Street, just outside the line of the old city walls. The site is marked by a cross sunk in the road.
As well as being a monument to the Reformation, the memorial is also a landmark of the 19th century Oxford Movement, the Tractarian Movement, propagated by John Keble, John Henry Newman and others who were strongly anti-Reformation. Profoundly alarmed at the Catholic realignment the movement was bringing into the Church of England, the Rev. Charles Pourtales Golightly and other Anglican clergy raised the funds for erecting the monument, with its historic pro-Protestant profession and anti-Roman Catholic posture. As a result the monument was built 300 years after the events it commemorates.
Popular rumour (an urban legend, in fact) is that in the past students have misled foreign tourists about the nature of the Memorial and convinced them it was the spire of an underground church, which could be toured for a modest fee. This would result in the tourists venturing down a flight of stairs near the Memorial which actually lead to the public toilets.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Martyrs' Memorial, Oxford.|
- "Stevens T. 'Weekes, Henry (1807–1877)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- "Images of England: The Martyrs' Memorial". English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- "The Martyrs' Memorial at Oxford". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Martyrs' Memorial". Headington.org.uk.
- "Sightseeing". Oxfordcityguide.com. Retrieved 24 May 2011.