Chapel of St Peter le Bailey

The chapel was designed by Basil Champneys as the parish church of St Peter le Bailey and dates from 1874.

About this church

It was Champneys first building in Oxford, and demonstrates his capable but restrained command of the Gothic style.

The building replaces two previous churches which had served the same parish; they were located on what is now Bonn Square at the end of New Inn Hall Street. The name ‘Bailey’ derives from the fact that the Oxford Castle Bailey was located there in the Middle Ages.

The Norman church, known as St Peter at the Castle, was destroyed when the tower collapsed in 1726. Rebuilt in 1740 in the Italianate style, the church was demolished in 1874 to relieve traffic congestion and rebuilt further north on its present site.

A few relics remain in the chapel from earlier churches, notably several memorial brasses, the earliest to John Sprunt (1419) sometime mayor of Oxford; a 16th century parish chest; fragments of carved masonry from the Norman church; an oil painting depicting the ‘Sacrifice of Isaac’, and the font.

The parish church was renovated for use as a chapel in the late 1920s. Most of the newer decorative fittings are memorials to the Chavasse family. The oak cross used to mark the grave of Noel Chavasse can be seen on the north wall of the chapel. Noel, a doctor, was sent to France in 1914 as Medical Officer to the Liverpool Scottish Regiment, awarded a Military Cross in 1915 and became one of the greatest heroes of the First World War, being the only person in that war to be twice awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Guillemont, France (1916) and heroism at Wieltje, Belgium (1917).

The memorial panel (1932) on the north wall is a bas relief depicting Bishop Francis James Chavasse at prayer. It is a cast taken from the original by David Evans in Liverpool Cathedral.

The oak and limewood reredos is a memorial to Edith Chavasse, wife of Francis James Chavasse, and dates from 1929. It is dedicated to wives and mothers. Designed by FE Howard and carved in the workshops of AR Mowbray & Co, it is divided into five niches. The centre depicts the resurrection, the others showing scenes from the life of St Peter.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

Become a Friend of the National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings!