‘Deadman’s Walk’ is the path which runs alongside the city wall in Christ Church Meadow, 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.
This section of the city wall is also a boundary for Merton College which was founded for lay ecclesiastics in 1264 by Walter de Merton. Merton College enjoyed great wealth, but the limitations of its site, with 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, restricted scope for expansion and space had to be used carefully. Today different buildings interconnect, giving the college a special atmosphere.
Deadman’s Walk leads to The High, the Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College. This view of Magdalen College tower is one of the classic views of Oxford. Magdalen College was founded in 1458 on the site of St John the Baptist Hospital (1231) and is built on an unusually large site due to being outside the medieval city wall. The tower is over 100 feet high and at 6am on May 1st each year, choristers from Magdalen School gather in the tower to sing Hymnus Eucharisticus to the vast crowds below on Magdalen Bridge. Singing is followed by a long peal of bells and a day of celebration to welcome the spring.
Christ Church Meadow, Oxford