The Church of Holy Rood is part of the Parish of North Hinksey in Oxford and is situated near Folly Bridge on the Abingdon Road, not far from the centre of Oxford.
Led by Parish Priest Father Daniel Lloyd, our welcoming congregation reflects the variety of nationalities that can be found in Oxford and the surrounding areas. We also have close links with our two sister Churches across Oxford – Our Lady of the Rosary, Botley, and St Thomas More Chapel, Boars Hill.
It is ideally situated for Catholic guests staying at the Four Pillars Hotel. It also hosts a Mass on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons for the Portuguese speaking community in Oxford.
Whether you are new to the parish or an existing church member, please explore our website to join in our faith celebration and to find out how you can get the most out of your Parish and Church community.
Our Church's History
North Hinksey is the northernmost parish of the Portsmouth Diocese, whose boundary, like that of most Catholic Dioceses, is the old county boundary. Until a few years ago Berkshire extended to the River Thames, except in Botley, where the boundary became the Seacourt Stream.
It wasn’t so long ago that the North Hinskey part of the Diocese was served from East Hendred, home of the old Catholic family of the Eystons. The Parish of North Hinksey has three church buildings, reflecting the geographically fragmented nature of the population. Each of those buildings was meant to be a focus for a local Catholic community made up of people who cared for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and whose witness to Christ and care for others spilled out into the wider community.
The design of the Holy Rood Church, which was dedicated in 1961, was inspired by the vision of the Second Vatican Council of the Church as the People of God on their pilgrimage. The tent shape of the Church reflects the tent of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, which was the dwelling place of the presence of God.
The building of the church was originally made possible by the benefaction in 1956 of a remarkable soldier, diplomat and explorer, Reginald Schomberg, who towards the end of his life was ordained priest. The site was originally the orchard attached to Grandpont House, once the home of the Salter family, now belonging to Opus Dei, and was bought by the then parish priest, Fr John Crozier, from Brasenose College. Memorials to Reginald Schomberg and Fr Crozier can be seen on the wall of the side chapel. The plaque honouring Our Lady of Poland beside the gallery stairs is a reminder of the contribution made to this church by the local Polish community, many of whom had experienced terrible sufferings over the war years.
In these years, just before the Second Vatican Council, Fr Crozier studied new church design in Europe, and in the light of this teamed up with an Oxford architect, Gilbert Flavel, to design this building which was conceived as being ‘in the round’ and tent-like. It was thus able to be used for Mass celebrated in the then traditional eastward-facing, or ‘facing the people’, as subsequently became normal. This flexibility has in our time come into its own, and Holy Rood is now host to both styles. The dedication is to the Holy Rood, (‘Holy Cross’), and the whole building is designed on a plan of a ‘Jerusalem Cross’ with equal arms, and a Jerusalem cross also surmounts the central lantern (extract taken from Fr Paul King’s address in 2012 celebrating the completion of the Foster-Carrington organ at Holy Rood).
Patron Saint - Holy Rood
Rood has several distinct meanings, all derived from the same basic etymology.
“Rood” is an archaic word for “pole”, from Anglo-Saxon rōd “pole”, specifically “crucifix”, from Proto-Germanic *rodo, cognate to Old Saxon rōda, Old High German ruoda “rod”; the relation of rood to rod, from Anglo-Saxon rodd “pole” is unclear; the latter was perhaps influenced by Old Norse rudda “club”).
Crucifix or cross
The rood on a rood screen: a crucifix on the elaborate 16th-century “jubé” in the church of St-Etienne-du-Mont, ParisIn the meaning “crucifix”, rood usually refers to a sculpture or painting of the cross with Christ hanging on it. More precisely, “the Rood” refers to the Cross, the specific wooden cross used in Christ’s crucifixion. The word remains in use in some names, such as Holyrood Palace and the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood. The phrase “by the rood” was used in swearing, e.g. “No, by the rood, not so” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 4).
In church architecture a rood screen is a wooden or stone screen, usually separating the chancel or choir from the nave. The screen may be elaborately carved and was often richly painted and gilded. It supported a large cross or crucifix (the rood), sometimes with attendant figures. Rood screens are not unique to Britain: they are found in Christian churches in many parts of Europe; they are the Western equivalent of the Byzantine templon beam , which developed into the Eastern Orthodox iconostasis. Some rood screens incorporate a rood loft, a narrow gallery which could be used by singers or musicians. An alternative type of screen is the Pulpitum, as seen in Exeter Cathedral, which is near the main altar of the church.
The rood itself provided a focus for worship, most especially in Holy Week, when worship was highly elaborate. During Lent the rood was veiled; on Palm Sunday it was revealed before the procession of palms and the congregation knelt before it. The whole Passion story would then be read from the rood loft, at the foot of the crucifix, by three ministers.
No original medieval rood now survives in a church in the United Kingdom . Most were deliberately destroyed as acts of iconoclasm during the English Reformation and the English Civil War, when many rood screens were also removed. Today, in many British churches, the rood stair which gave access to the gallery is often the only remaining sign of the former rood screen and rood loft.
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Where is the Church?
Our church is situated near Folly Bridge on the Abingdon Road, not far from the centre of Oxford. It is ideally situated for Catholic guests staying at the Four Pillars Hotel.
Please find a useful map below which highlights the exact location of the Church of Holy Rood.
Holy Rood Church,
Abingdon Rd, Oxford OX1 4LD
Saturday Vigil Masses
(Sacrament of Reconciliation from 4.30pm and everyday after Mass)
5.00 pm (Divine Worship)
7.30pm (Mass in Portugese)
5.00 pm (Latin, 1962)
Mondays to Wednesdays 9am
Thursdays 9am (Divine Worship)
Fridays 9am – Mass (Latin, 1962)
(Followed by Sacrament of Reconciliation)
Adoration 9.30am-10.30am (please see newsletter for updates)