Magdalene College

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Cambridge University

Magdalene College was founded in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel, in time coming to be known as Buckingham College, before being refounded in 1542 as the College of St Mary Magdalene, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The refoundation was largely the work of Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII. Audley also gave the College its motto: 'garde ta foy' - keep your faith. Audley's successors in the Mastership and as benefactors of the College were however prone to dire ends; several benefactors were arraigned at various stages on charges of high treason and executed.

The College's most famous son is Samuel Pepys, whose papers and books were donated to the College upon his death, and are now housed in the Pepys Library, the most beautiful building within the College. Magdalene is both famous and notorious for its 'traditional' style, boasting both a well-regarded candlelit formal hall (held every evening) and the distinction of having been the last previously all-male College in Oxford or Cambridge to admit women in 1988 (Oriel College was the last in Oxford, admitting women in 1985).

Aesthetically Magdalene's old College buildings are beautiful if representative of the College's ramshackle growth from a monks' foundation into a centre of education. It is also distinctive in that most of the old buildings are in brick rather than stone (save for the frontage of the Pepys Library). Magdalene Street divides the most ancient courts from more recent developments. One of the accommodation blocks in the newer part of the college was built by Edwin Lutyens in the early 1930s.

Magdalene remains, despite this twentieth-century expansion, one of the smaller colleges within the University, at last count numbering over 300 undergraduates and an expanding postgraduate community. Opened in 2005 was Cripps Court, on Chesterton Road, featuring new undergraduate rooms and conference facilities. The current Master is Duncan Robinson.

Oxford University


Magdalen College pronounced "maudlin" is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is also one of the wealthiest, with, in 2003, an estimated financial endowment of £116 million.

Magdalen College was founded as Magdalen Hall in 1448 by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester. It became Magdalen College in 1458. The founder's statutes included provision for a choral foundation of men and boys (a tradition that has continued to the present day) and made reference to how the name of the College should be pronounced.

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, Magdalen is also one of the most visited. It stands next to the River Cherwell and has within its grounds a deer park and Addison's Walk. Magdalen College School also lies nearby. The large, square Magdalen Tower is a famous Oxford landmark, and it is a tradition that the college choir sings from the top of it early on May Morning. The college's current president, Professor David Clary FRS, was earlier a Fellow and Senior Tutor at Magdalene College, Cambridge.


The Great Tower was built between 1492 and 1509, and is an imposing landmark on the eastern approaches to the city centre. The hall and chapel were built at similar times, though both have undergone some changes in the intervening years.

The Cloister was built in the fifteenth century, and has been altered several times since then. In 1822, the north side was in bad shape, and was knocked down while most of the fellows were away from college (only a small group of fellows were in favour of demolishing it). It was rebuilt shortly afterwards. In the early 1900s, renovations were performed, and it was returned to a more mediaeval character. Student rooms were installed in the (very large) roof space in the 1980s, and remain some of the most sought after rooms in the college. The New Building was built in 1733.

The college has a number of other quads. St John's Quad is the first on entering the college, and includes the Outdoor Pulpit. There is Chaplain's Quad, which runs along the side of the Chapel and Hall, to the foot of the Great Tower. St Swithun's Quad and Longwall Quad (which contains the Library) date from the late 19th and early 20th century, and make up the south west corner of the college. The Grove Buildings are the newest (built in the 1990s), and are built in a traditional style.