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Carfax Tower is all that remains of the 12th century church of St Martin's Church, the official civic church for the city situated at the centre of the old medieval town. St Martins was demolished in 1820 after the building had become unstable, but the 13th century west tower was spared. The replacement church wasn’t around for long; it was pulled down in 1896 when the road was widened and, again, the tower was spared.

The name ‘Carfax’, or ‘carfoukes’ in older English, is said to be derived either from the French ‘carrefourges’, ‘carrefour’ – or ‘crossroads’ – or from the Latin ‘quatuor furcas’ - ‘four forks’. So ‘carfax’ refers to the location; technically, the tower is St Martin's Tower. A climb to the top (it is 74 feet high) provides wonderful views over the city. And no building in central Oxford is permitted to be built any higher than Carfax Tower. On its east side is a copy of the old church clock, with mechanical ‘quarterboys’ hammering out each quarter hour.

Junction of St Aldate's, Cornmarket, Queen Street, and High Street
Post Code
Main Historic Period
Centre of Oxford
Primary Management
Local Authority

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