Lord Mayor of Oxford to continue 600-year-old contract agreement by inspecting the city’s walls within New College

Published: Wednesday, 20th October 2021

The Lord Mayor of Oxford will continue a 600-year-old contract agreement by inspecting the city’s walls later this week.

When King Richard II granted the land to build New College on 30 June 1379, he made it a condition that the College keep the city walls in good repair.

The Lord Mayor of Oxford has been inspecting the city walls every three years since then.

The current Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Mark Lygo, and fellow city councillors will inspect the walls on Friday (22 October).

As is tradition, the councillors – led by the City Mace – will walk from Oxford Town Hall to New College’s non-licet gate in New College Lane.

The Lord Mayor’s sergeant will then knock three times on the gate to request permission for the Lord Mayor and councillors to enter.

The Warden and Fellows of New College will then lead the Lord Mayor of Oxford and councillors to the College garden to inspect the city walls.

As part of the 14th century contract, New College has a gate on either side of the city wall to enable the Lord Mayor of Oxford to carry out the inspection. The gates were also created to “enable the free passage in times of war for the defence of Oxford”.

Councillor Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford, said: “I’m honoured to be part of such an historic event that has been kept alive by New College and since the Middle Ages. 

“Oxford doesn’t have much call on defensive fortifications these days, but the walls do provide a touchstone to the city’s past and we are very grateful to New College for looking after them.”

Miles Young, Warden of New College, said: ‘Since 1379, we have had a responsibility to the City of Oxford – and we take it seriously. We hope this year that the Lord Mayor and Councillors will agree that the Wall is in excellent – if not mint! – condition.’