Oxford Beating the Bounds

Where: Oxford - around the parish boundaries of St Michael in Northgate and St Mary the Virgin on the High Street.
When: Ascension Day
Time: 9am onwards



Mark! Mark!

Ascension Day was traditionally a time for checking parish boundaries and marking them; in Oxford two neighbouring parishes still perform this in the traditional way. A short service is held in each church, followed by a procession of clergy and dignitaries who follow their ancient route around the landmarks, beating them with white wands , marking them with chalk and calling “Mark! Mark! Mark!”.  The walks take about two hours and some of the points are inside shops and pubs and even a library; the end of the St Michael’s is at Lincoln College where the participants are fed and watered with Ivy Beer. During the St Mary’s walk cherry cake is provided at All Souls College, where they used to have cherry orchards, and ice cream at the end. Both processions involve scrambles for money (and sweets, on St Mary’s) and pass through Brasenose College.

Helpful Hints

Ascension Day is linked to Easter ( it’s the fifth Thursday after Easter) and therefore varies in date from year to year but is always on a Thursday.

In 2018 it will be on Thursday 10th May.

Click here for St Mary’s website: http://www.university-church.ox.ac.uk

and here for St Michael’s: http://www.smng.org.uk/wp/

Click here to find out more : http://www.oxfordhistory.org.uk/streets/parish_marks/index.html

View larger map