Amidst the streets of Oxford, bustling with locals on their way to work and tourists pulled by their maps, stands Oxford’s Magdalen College (pronounced “Maudlin” by locals and savvier travelers.) Founded in 1458, the college has provided education for many notable alumni, from great writers to kings- including: Edward VIII, Oscar Wilde and journalist Nicholas Kristof. Behind the sculptural door frame stands grand towers in pale stone, glowing in sunlight and teeming with history and a fair share of beautiful gardens. “It’s different to what you see in London,” says South London resident Ash Robertson.
In London, she explains, most centers of history were created for military purposes. Robertson appreciates the value of “buildings erected for a reason other than religious and political power.” There is something sacred, she feels, about a place that was built for and remains dedicated to learning.
Her friend, Amanda Galvin, of Worcester, who has come to Oxford to explore the sights as well as to catch up with Ash. The two meet up regularly to reconnect among the great literary sites of England. “We’ve done Shakespeare in Stratford, Jane Austen in Bath,” said Galvin.
There is no shortage of literary minds that can be connected to Oxford. “Oscar Wilde or C.S. Lewis?” we asked. “Inspector Morse, actually,” Galvin responded with a laugh.
The most spectacular thing about Magdalen, past its rich and long history, the two agree, is in the details. Each individual gargoyle takes a different form. The intricate designs, Galvin and Robertson say, build a cohesive and breathtaking picture.
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