Half way up a tower in the middle of the University town of Oxford hangs a door.
Not unusual, you might say. All towers need doors. Or the pigeons get in and create havoc.
But this door doesn’t go anywhere. It hangs on the ancient wall, half way up the bell-tower of the church of St Michael at the North gate.
It is famous because three men once walked through it to their deaths.
The ancient door once hung on a cell in the Bocardo Prison, a gatehouse prison which could be entered from the tower of St Michael back in 1555. And they were victims of Mary Tudor, burnt at the stake because they would not convert to the Catholic faith.
Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley: the three Oxford Martyrs, who, some say, gave rise to the nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice.”
It is well labelled, with a brass plate. We paused, in the stairwell, to look at this memento mori: a memory of a savage time in England’s history.
A memento of a not particularly nice mori.