North Gate Hall

Reclaiming an historic church building for the gospel.


The North Gate Hall has been a landmark of central Oxford since its construction as a Methodist chapel in 1871. After extensive remodelling in the 1930s the building became the much-loved home of the Oxford Intercollegiate Christian Union (OICCU), a forerunner of evangelical campus ministries across the world.

Packed with students coming to hear Bible teaching from the likes of Martyn Lloyd Jones and John Stott, the building became a launching point for whole careers of gospel-centred ministry.

J. I. Packer was one of hundreds of new converts who grew in faith and fellowship in the North Gate Hall. And it was in the basement of the building, amongst a treasure-trove of uncatalogued evangelical books, that he famously found the uncut set of John Owen’s works that went on to shape his ministry so profoundly, and through him, the theological trajectory of a whole generation of Bible teachers.

After a fire, the building was converted into a restaurant and joined the ranks of the thousands of churches that have become bars, nightclubs, and exclusive homes in modern Britain. It seemed that the days of the North Gate Hall reverberating to the sound of God’s praise had been consigned to history.

God opens the door

Praying more in hope than expectation, Oxford Pres began developing relationships with the restaurant staff in late 2019, leading to a booking for a fully-catered members meeting in April 2020. Perhaps, we thought, the door might open for events on Sundays at a later date? Little did we anticipate the chaos that was about to ensue.

In March 2020, with the country plunged into Covid lock-down, the restaurant sent out a generic note cancelling bookings across all their properties. At the foot of that email was a series of head office contacts – including details for their national property director.

Taking courage in hand – as befits children of a great heavenly Father – we wrote back expressing an interest in subletting, perhaps even purchasing, the building. And the rest, as they say, is history. Three years of negotiating and strategising later, three years of hopes raised and dashed and raised again, of thinking big and finding God was thinking even bigger… we signed a long term lease for the building.


Our vision is simple. We plan to put the building back the way it was built and use it the way it was built to be used – as a beacon for the gospel of Jesus.

Located at the very centre of the city, directly opposite the Oxford Union where politicians and influencers from all over the world come to debate the latest and most pressing issues of the day, we plan to sing God’s praises, to preach his word, and to put the space at the disposal of others with the same priorities. We’re already in discussions with the Christian Union about handing them back the keys for their bi-weekly Bible readings and annual mission events.

We’re fully aware that we’re unfit to tie the shoelaces of our illustrious evangelical forebears. But we serve the same God. And we believe that he has business yet to do for the extension of his kingdom through this place that has been so greatly used of him in the past.

Support the project

To the best of our knowledge, the North Gate Hall restoration – bringing a church back from secular use to its original function as a place of worship, is the only project of its kind in the UK. Will you join with us to help bring this mammoth gospel undertaking to completion and point the way for others to follow?


Contact Andy to sign up for regular prayer updates on the North Gate Hall Restoration.

+44 (0) 1865 238307


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