Oxford's Carfax Tower

Visiting Oxford > What to See > Historical Places

Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower, in Oxford, is a 23-meter-high bell tower that used to belong to a 12th-century church. All that remains of it now is the tower (also known as Martin’s Tower), which can be visited to get excellent views of the city of Oxford and its prominent landmarks. 

The History of Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower used to belong to St. Martin’s Church, a 12-century building and the official City Church of Oxford between 1122 and 1896. The central part of this church was demolished to make room for road traffic, and the city church moved to All Saint’s Church.

Carfax Tower is 23 meters or 74 feet tall. By stipulation of the City Council, no other building in Oxford can be higher than it (a rule that was, in fact, broken by the Blavatnik School of Government). It’s a Grade II listed building, so it’s considered of particular architectural and historical interest and needs to be carefully preserved. 

When to Visit and What to See in Carfax Tower

You can climb up the 99 steps to the top of Carfax Tower to get a fantastic view of the city and its impressive spires. The tower still has a ring of six bells (five are recast from the original ring in 1676 and one two years later). You might be able to hear them occasionally (the Oxford Society of Change Ringers can do this).

The tower can be visited from 10 am to 3 pm November to February, 10 am to 4 pm in March, 10 am to 5 pm April to September, and 10 am to 4 pm in October.

Entry costs £3 for adults and £2 for children. 

Carfax Tower and the University of Oxford

The Tower plays a role in University regulations. For example, this institution requires some students to live within six miles (or 9.7 kilometers) of it. 

Where is Carfax Tower?

Carfax Tower is right on the corner of High Street and St. Aldates. You probably won’t miss it if you visit Oxford. 

Oxford's Carfax Tower

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Carfax Tower, in Oxford, is a 23-meter-high bell tower that used to belong to a 12th-century church. Here’s how to visit it (and why!).

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