'This was a bit magical: Merton College and St Mary's spire could just be seen through the fog, as this 'mother and child' image came into view'. J J Marshall.
Christ Church Meadow is owned by Christ Church College and its 37 acres are preserved as ancient meadow for their herd of Longhorn cattle, and the herons, deer, pheasants, squirrels and other wildlife that enjoy its careful management. The Meadow has a tendency to flood and there is a print of people skating on it in 1879. Although so close to the city centre, the Meadow is a beautiful rural setting for the buildings of Christ Church and Merton colleges, and is a quiet retreat for the city’s inhabitants.
Merton College was founded for lay ecclesiastics in 1264 by Walter de Merton. Merton enjoyed great wealth, but scope for expansion was restricted by the city wall on its south side, Merton Street on its north side, and the sale of land in 1515 on its west side, for the site of Corpus Christi College. Merton College reveals little of itself in Merton Street except for its chapel, and the best view is from Christ Church Meadow and ‘Deadman’s Walk’ - the path which runs alongside the city wall, so called because it was the route taken by Jewish funeral processions from St Aldates to their burial ground in what is now the Botanic Gardens.
The oldest part of St Mary the Virgin is the tower (1280) with its profusely decorated spire (1315-25). The church stands in the centre of the original walled city and the university grew around it.
Christ Church meadow, Oxford