The colleges and halls: Magdalene

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.

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'The colleges and halls: Magdalene', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959), pp. 450-456. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "The colleges and halls: Magdalene", in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959) 450-456. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "The colleges and halls: Magdalene", A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959). 450-456. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


Magdalene College. Quarterly per pale indented or and azure a bend azure and two eagles or with a fret and two martlets or on the bend.


When Thomas, Lord Audley, Lord Chancellor of England, founded Magdalene College (fn. 1) in 1542 he utilized the site and buildings of an earlier educational establishment. At a general chapter of the Benedictine Order held at Northampton in 1426 the prior of the students of the order in Cambridge, an office which went back to 1343, had complained of the harm which arose from their living in the houses of laymen in the town. It was therefore decided to make special provision for their residence and on 7 July 1428 Abbot Litlyngton of Crowland was granted permission by Henry VI to acquire 2 messuages in the parish of St. Giles. On this land his successor, John de Wisbech, erected in 1476 buildings which form a considerable part of the present First Court of the College. In the construction of this 'Monks' Hostel' other Benedictine houses of East Anglia, Ely, Ramsey, and Walden, took a share, but as late as 1534 the College was still considered a cell of Crowland. In the meantime two Dukes of Buckingham, Henry the second and Edward the third duke, had been benefactors to so great an extent that the College came to bear their name. Henry was possibly responsible for the building of the chapel and Edward almost certainly built the hall (1519), while the attribution of their name to the College goes back as far as 1484, in which year the Abbot of Crowland paid the Borough of Cambridge 14d. 'high-gable rent' on account of the 'hostel called Buckingham College'. The first University mention is in 1514, when Buckingham College appears in the cycle for the appointment of proctors.

It is clear that the College was still in action up to the Dissolution of the Monasteries; the last Prior was appointed in 1535 and the Royal Injunctions of that year included it among the collegiate foundations which were to maintain one Greek and one Latin public lecture daily. But it is no less clear that there was a real crisis in its fortunes a few years later and that it had practically ceased to exist when, in 1542, Lord Audley stepped in and refounded it under its present name. The foundation charter is dated 3 April 1542, but Audley died in 1544 and the statutes were drawn up ten years later by his executors, one of whom was Sir Thomas Pope, the founder of Trinity College, Oxford.


Magdalene was the only College built on the farther, at this point the northern, side of the river Cam until quite recent times. The original site was restricted by having houses both to the south and to the north. The land lying between the First Court and the river was purchased in 1792, although the houses were not completely removed until 80 years later. The land to the north of the College was acquired by stages in the 17th century, but the site of the present Master's Lodge was not bought until 1835 and some houses remained along the north side of Magdalene Street until the rounding-off of the Chesterton Road corner in 1911. The farther side of Magdalene Street was also acquired by degrees, the most important purchases being those of the Pickerel Inn in 1879 and of land between the street and the Bin Brook, completed in 1915. On this site Mallory Court was erected in 1925 and Benson Court was begun five years later, at right angles to the river and immediately overlooking the Brook. (fn. 2)


Magdalene has never been a richly endowed College and to begin with its revenues were indeed slender. Immediately after its refoundation it appeared as the poorest of all the Colleges, with an income of just over £42, but when a royal commission inquired into finances in 1546 it was one of the few whose income was greater than its expenditure. The foundation estate consisted of the lands and buildings of Buckingham College, the impropriate parsonage of St. Catharine Cree, and Lord Audley's 'great garden' in Aldgate. Another very early benefaction came in 1543 when the heirs of Hugh Dennis transferred to the College, with the consent of Parliament, a £20 yearly charge on the manor of Purleigh (Essex), granted originally to the Priory of Sheen: of this endowment 20 nobles were to be for the use of the College and 20 marks for the establishment of two fellows, to be nominated by the king and to be called 'King's Fellows'. These were the first bye-fellowships, and others came from the benefactions of Sir Christopher Wray (1587 and 1592), John Spendluffe (1594), Dr. Goche (1624), the Countess of Warwick, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray (1625), John Smith (1638), Drue Drury (1698), and Dr. Millington (1724). These, including the four foundation fellowships, made eventually eighteen in all, but the bye-fellowships were of little value and changed hands frequently: in 1778 their dividends were supplemented by a fund bequeathed by Mistress Elizabeth Dongworth.

Scholarships, like bye-fellowships, go back to 1543, in which year John Hughes, Chancellor of Bangor, gave lands and tenements in Carnarvonshire for the maintenance of a scholar: gifts and legacies from other benefactors, among whom members of the Wray family were prominent, brought the total up to 49 in 1862, when the special foundations were suppressed and a general fund for open scholarships was established. Two foundations remained distinct, that of Thomas Holmes (1656) for boys from Wisbech School, and that of the Rev. Thomas Milner (1722) for boys educated at the schools of Heversham, Leeds, and Halifax. The Holmes exhibitioners are not now members of the foundation, and the Milner scholarships are thrown open if no candidate from any of the three schools qualifies in the annual competitive examination.

The property thus given for fellowships and scholarships was largely in the town and county of Cambridge and in Lincolnshire and Carnarvonshire. Lands in Huntingdonshire, including the manor of King's Ripton, came from the legacy of Peter Peckard in 1797, giving property for the augmentation of the dividends of the Master and senior fellows, as well as the sum of £400 which was to accumulate for 112 years; when this sum was realized in 1923, a fellowship, called the Peckard Fellowship, was established. The most munificent benefactor in recent times has been Dr. A. C. Benson, Master 1915–25. In addition to many generous gifts made during his lifetime, he bequeathed the sum of over £38,000, out of which a Benson Fellowship was established in 1927. In 1938 a Kipling Fellowship was established through the generosity of Mrs. Caroline Kipling, widow of Rudyard Kipling, honorary fellow. In 1953 the Coulthurst Trustees, having previously established scholarships in agricultural science, made provision for a fellowship, to be called the Coulthurst Fellowship in memory of John William Coulthurst, member of the College.


The College advowsons are: St. Stephen's, Walbrook, in the City of London, alternate presentation, received in exchange for St. Catharine Cree, which was bequeathed by the founder and has now become a 'Guild Church'; Longstanton St. Michael's, bequeathed in 1583 by Dr. Thomas Harvey, Master of Trinity Hall, and in 1923 united with Longstanton All Saints, with the Bishop of Ely as joint patron; Anderby-cum-Cumberworth (Lincs.), given by John Spendluffe, 1584; Grainthorpe (Lincs.), given by Sir Christopher Wray, 1587; Steeple Ashton (Wilts.), left by Drue Drury as endowment for his Norfolk Travelling Fellowship in 1697; Great Fransham (Norf.), bought by the College in 1849 and in 1922 united with Little Fransham, the patronage being shared with Hertford College, Oxford; Ringstead All Saints (Suff.), given by the Rev. A. C. Pearson in 1930; Privett-cum-Froxfield (Hants), given by O. W. Nicholson in 1914. The sinecure of East Aldrington (Suss.), bequeathed by John Citizen in 1750, was sold by the College in 1875. The Master receives the income derived from the sale of the rectory of Ellingham (Norf.), given by the first Lord Braybrooke in 1797 and annexed to the Mastership.

The College was financially unlucky in its early days. It is uncertain to what extent, if at all, the Duke of Norfolk fulfilled the lavish promises made on the occasion of the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Cambridge in 1564; it is certain that bequests for the benefit of the College by Martha Barrett (1584) and Matthew Richardson (1594) failed at an early date, through carelessness, or worse, on the part of the trustees; and the annuity for Dr. Goche's fellowships was paid for only one year, after which they became titular; but they were interesting, as being open to laymen. The greatest tragedy in the financial history of the College was the perpetual alienation of the Aldgate property to the queen in 1574, at a yearly rent of £15. This was an immediate gain, the property having been previously let for only £9, but the ultimate loss was, of course, enormous. The transaction was almost certainly contrary to the statutes as well as to an Act of Parliament passed three years earlier; it led in the next century to a tedious succession of bills, petitions, and lawsuits which ended adversely for the College: part of the annual £15 has since been capitalized and the College now receives only £2 per annum.

Constitution and Statutes.

The most noticeable feature of the constitution of the College has all along been its very close connexion with the heir and successors of Lord Audley, a connexion which became especially intimate in the early 20th century when, for the last two years of his life, the Master was also Visitor. The executors laid down from the beginning the principle of the ultimate authority of the founder's family, and they strengthened the connexion by the great power given to the Master, who was to be appointed by the Visitor and not elected by the fellows. These two points emerge clearly from the history of the statutes; originally drawn up by Lord Audley's executors in 1554, they were revised by the Duke of Norfolk in 1564, at a time when the statutes of most Colleges were overhauled by royal commissioners, and the additions which he made were almost all in the direction of strengthening the Master's authority. So much was this so that it was asserted in 1625 that the duke had made his alterations without consulting the executors, at the prompting of Dr. Kelke, the then Master. This charge of ill faith on the part of the duke was indignantly and solemnly repudiated by the then Visitor in 1631 and again in 1635. But the extra sentences had certainly been written in as additions to the various clauses of the existing statutes, every page of which had been signed in 1554 by the executors; in this way it might appear that the signatories had all assented also to the 1564 additions, whereas some at any rate of them were by that time deceased.

But if there was room for question about the form of the statutes, there was ambiguity also about their content, in particular their interpretation and the possibility of subsequent amendment; this concerned especially the right, on the one hand, of the Master to grant dispensations, as to taking Orders or holding benefices, and, on the other hand, of future Visitors to amend or add to the statutes at their pleasure.

As to the statutes themselves, taking the 1554 and the 1564 clauses together, the opening sentence may seem unusual for so late a foundation: 'omnibus ac singulis Matris Ecclesiae filiis presentibus et futuris salutem'; but it is phrasing appropriate to the reign of Philip and Mary. Sir Thomas Pope, one of the chief executors, was an ardent Catholic, and this fact helps to account for what may be termed the oldfashioned character of many of the statutes. The study of theology was impressed as an obligation on the fellows, whereas for civil law a special dispensation from the Master was required. The foundation fellows were to be by preference 'docti et pauperes' and were only to hold benefices with leave of the Master. There were to be eight of them, but because of the poverty of the endowment the executors cut down the figure to six and took powers to make further reductions if necessary. Internally, the Master had very great authority: he might eject a fellow without any delay or appeal, whereas no provision was made for his own removal, save by the Visitor: he could be married or single, as he chose, nor had he any obligation to reside; he could settle the dates of fellowship elections at which, as at all other business, he had two votes, as well as a casting vote.

These extensive powers were not idle forms and led to a petition (30 December 1595) (fn. 3) by ten fellows to Lord Thomas Howard, 'that so the long blemish of our house (by our weak Statutes referring all to one man's pleasure) may by your Honour be taken away and your lordship's scholars no longer live as servants when they should be fellows'. The trouble had arisen more particularly during the later years of Kelke's Mastership. In 1572 he had deprived Elias Newcommen of his fellowship—'by my power and authority which in that College is considerably great'—and in the following year had ejected two other fellows, subsequently reinstated by Burghley, who had appealed for a regular 'visitation' of the College. Nevile in 1588 deprived a fellow for not having taken Orders even after nine years' tenure of his fellowship, and so late as 1635 and 1736 fellows were deprived for holding benefices without the special leave of the Master. But it was the double vote at elections which caused most discontent. It was petitioned against by Bulkeley and three other fellows in 1576; it led to an alleged 'false and juggling trick' to diminish the Master's authority in 1625, and it nearly lost the College a legacy in 1635 when John Smith, who held that the statutes had been largely faked by Kelke and 'made for tyranny', established by his will the office of bursar on condition that at the election thereto the Master should have only one vote; the fellows, however, afterwards yielded to the Master's demand that this condition should be set aside. One hundred and fifty years later, Dr. Peckard was involved in another controversy over the Master's powers; in the course of a long memorandum he explained his position: 'I greatly dislike the exercise of power, nor will I ever knowingly transgress any power with which I have been invested. But when a certain authority is committed to me in trust for those who shall come after me, I will not suffer it to be dishonoured or torn from me.' To this note he appended what was obviously the copy of a letter addressed to a colleague; it began, 'a former resident, thinking the Master's authority too great, appealed to the Visitor, who confirmed the Master's authority'. The Master's double vote was partially removed by the statutes of 1860 and totally disappeared with those of 1882.

The Visitor's right to nominate the Master has never been challenged. But it produced an unsatisfactory situation in 1774, when George Sandby was called on to resign, in fulfilment of a promise made by him at his appointment in 1760, in order to make room for Barton Wallop, whose qualification was that he was the grandson of the late Lord Portsmouth; his disqualification was his being, according to a contemporary, 'totally illiterate' and, more serious from the point of view of the statutes, only 27 years old. This last defect was, however, covered by the saving clause 'thirty years old or thereabouts', which also allowed the fellows to accept the two appointments of the 19th century, both 'Founder's Kin' and both under 30 years of age. The agequalification has since been made unambiguously 'thirty years'. The Visitor's right of nomination was preserved in the statutes of 1926 but the Visitorship was vested not, as before, in the 'possessor of Audley End' but in the holder for the time being of the barony of Braybrooke, as representing the founder.

Next to the intimate connexion between the founder's family and the Mastership, the most interesting feature of the 19th century was the large number of bye-fellowships and the small number of full fellowships. It appeared at the time of the 1850 commission that there were only four foundation fellowships, fewer than at any other college save one, whereas there were thirteen bye-fellowships, more than at any other college save one. The Rev. E. Warter, President, giving evidence in place of the Master, who was ill, defended the position, 'for although two of them are valueless and others very poor, they are very useful as stepping-stones for those who may not have an immediate chance of being elected into something better'. But it was just this 'stepping-stone' practice which was considered objectionable by the commission, whereas, in view of the few full fellowships, 'the incorporation of the bye-fellows would afford a convenient addition to the present means of administering the affairs of the College'. Consequently, in the statutes of 1860 they disappeared, their revenues being applied to the scholarships fund, and four additional fellowships were created, for the moment only on paper, to bear the names of Wray, Spendluffe, Drury, and Millington; it is curious that the title of 'King's Fellows', commemorating the earliest benefaction other than that of the founder, should have been allowed to disappear. The College undoubtedly gained by the suppression of the bye-fellowships as they had been administered in the 19th century: but it looked back on them with a regret that was more than sentimental and they were called into life again in a modified form in the statutes of 1926, having existed less formally for some years previously. The byefellowships do not now, any more than in earlier times, confer membership of the governing body, but they 'give a certain status', as Mr. Warter had pointed out in 1852, and the research students who hold them gain by their introduction to the life of the high table and the combination-room.

The statutes of 1926 provide for 7 fellowships; in 1956 the actual number was 18, of whom 12 were stipendiary and three professorial and two were held by professors emeriti; there were also in that year two bye-fellows and 51 scholars and exhibitioners.

Buildings. (fn. 4)

The First Court was constructed piecemeal owing to the unusual circumstances of the foundation. Only the chapel, hall, and kitchens were erected corporately, so to speak, and under the direction of the Provincial Order of St. Benedict. The staircases were built, to varying designs, by the Benedictine houses which sent students to the College and the modern coats of arms indicate what is conjectured, though without real evidence, to have been the contribution of each. Two staircases on the north and three on the south side belong to the 15th century, but the court was not completed until the end of the 16th century, and then largely through the generosity of Sir Christopher Wray, who made substantial additions in 1587. (fn. 5)

The building of the Second Court, or Pepysian Building as it is now usually called, was under consideration in 1640 but it was not begun until some time after the Restoration, probably from designs by Robert Hooke in 1677, and not completed until Quadring's Mastership (1690–1713). No further addition to the College buildings was made until 1835, when the present Master's Lodge was built; that portion of the Old Lodge which occupied the north side of the First Court was then turned partly into the library and partly into College rooms. The part on the street, to the north, was made into a small separate house, the connecting gallery being destroyed in order to make the drive up to the new lodge. This building, with additions taken in when the houses at the corner of Chesterton Road were demolished, was converted into College rooms in 1926, and the spacious hall, which Dr. Benson had added in 1912, was fitted up as a room for concerts and the meetings of College clubs.

The 20th century has so far seen five additional blocks of buildings. In 1909 Aston Webb designed new kitchen premises, and two staircases, called Bright's Building, to commemorate the generosity of Mynors Bright. The lecture room on the ground floor of this building was enlarged and turned into a second dining-hall in 1949, the panelling being a memorial to the 130 Magdalene men who fell in the Second World War. In 1926 Mr. H. Redfern completed plans prepared by Dr. Benson for a block on the farther side of Magdalene Street, called Mallory Court in memory of George Mallory, one of the heroes of Everest. In 1930 Benson Court, architect Sir Edwyn Lutyens, was begun, also on the farther side of Magdalene Street, the building commemorating the quincentenary of Monks' Hostel and the name bearing witness to the affection with which the College treasured the memory of Dr. Benson. Between 1952 and 1956 various workshops and garages were converted into undergraduate sets and the upper floors of the old buildings in Magdalene Street, from the river to the entrance to Mallory Court, were made into sets of College rooms with direct access to Benson Court, under the direction of Mr. D. Wyn Roberts. Mr. Wyn Roberts also designed two new buildings, containing between them twentyeight sets, opposite Benson Court. In 1953 a full survey by Mr. S. E. Dykes Bower disclosed that the roof, the battlements, the Roman cement facing, and the stonework of the windows in the First Court were all defective. In 1954 work began on stripping the Roman cement, restoring the court to its original brickwork, and replacing the slate roof, after the battlements had been removed, with tiles.


The fine, but plain, oak roof of the chapel is all that now remains of the 15th-century building, which suffered, with the loss of 'about forty superstitious pictures', at the hands of the notorious Dowsing in 1643, was 'classicized' in 1754, a plaster ceiling having been inserted more than half a century earlier, and re-Gothicized in 1847. An organ was given by Dr. Duport in 1677, but the post of organist, held by the butler of Jesus College, was suppressed for reasons of economy in 1693, and the organ disappeared soon afterwards. No fresh organ was erected, an offer from the then Master being declined by the fellows in 1880, until Dr. Benson gave a small one in 1904; the present organ was the gift of F. McD. C. Turner in 1927 and enlarged by him in 1951. In that year the College started on a comprehensive scheme for the improvement and redecoration of the interior under the guidance of Mr. S. E. Dykes Bower.


The hall dates from 1519 but was greatly altered in 1714, when the walls were rewainscotted and the original timber roof concealed by a plaster ceiling; the gallery, with its double staircase, was constructed, incorporating a good deal of earlier woodwork, and over the dais was painted a remarkable group of heraldic 'achievements' which, having become almost invisible, were brought vividly to life again by a very careful process of cleaning in 1949.


The College library, formerly described as the Foundation Library, is on the ground floor of the north side of the First Court; it consists of two rooms divided by folding doors, in which the manuscripts and older books are kept, and an inner reference library. The chief private donors were Thomas Nevile and Barnaby Goche, while many books were bequeathed by Peter Peckard, through whom also the interesting Ferrar papers came into the possession of the College. Among the manuscripts are a fine illuminated Apocalypse, a 'Wycliffite' New Testament, and a curious collection of private devotions (1518); and among the printed books a copy of each of the two First Editions of Paradise Lost. There is also a small book of manuscript lecture notes, compiled by Thomas Applegarth, an undergraduate of the College, in 1672. Thomas Hardy, honorary fellow of the College, bequeathed the manuscript of his Moments of Vision, and the manuscript of his last published poem, Christmas in the Elgin Room, hangs on one of the walls. In 1937 Mrs. Rudyard Kipling gave the College, in memory of her husband, a scrap-book of manuscripts of his poems.

The Pepysian Library was left to Magdalene by a codicil to Pepys's will dated 12 May 1713. (fn. 6) The College entered into possession of this most valuable and interesting collection, which contains the manuscript of the Diary and the original 'presses', on the death of Pepys's nephew, John Jackson, in 1724. The donor had undoubtedly hoped that the library would occupy all the central part of the new Second Court, but although the whole building now bears his name the library itself occupies only one room in it, having been moved there in 1853.

Historical Sketch.

The most interesting alumni of Buckingham College were Robert Rede, the founder of the University lecture which bears his name, and Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, however, migrated almost immediately to Christ's College and, later, to Pembroke. Cranmer was a lecturer at the College for a year, after he had forfeited his fellowship at Jesus through marriage. It is uncertain whether Sir Christopher Wray, the famous Lord Chief Justice, belonged to the final days of Buckingham College or to the early days of Magdalene.

With its inadequate endowments, unfinished buildings, and internal troubles, Magdalene was at first a struggling and not very happy community. In Roger Kelke's time 'by evil dissensions the College was in such estate as those that served it with victuals would not longer contynue in so doing by reason the Master refused to be answerable for the money'! (fn. 7) The fifth Master, Degory Nicholls, caused still further dissensions; 'at his first coming it was reported he should say he wolde roote out all the Welshmen in the Colledge'. He was as good as his word, for he not only drove out the College butler because of his Celtic origin but for the same reason ousted Mr. Johns, the Greek lecturer. The fellows complained that 'as for the perfectinge of the scholars it seemeth his least care but rather regardeth the feeding of his Keyne which commonlie lie in the Court and often are mylked before the Hall door, his wife standing by'. 'These Keyne', they went on, 'bewraye the Hall and Chappel and now and then at mealltymes come and stand in the Hall.' They also complained of his wife's chiding tongue. (fn. 8)

Barnaby Goche, Master in 1604, was another curious character. He was, somewhat dubiously, a Member of Parliament in 1614 but spent most of the two following years in prison because of the part he played over the Aldgate lawsuit. As M.P., he petitioned for the College in 1621, but any gratitude Magdalene might feel for him over this, and his imprisonment on their behalf, must be slightly discounted by the lack of foresight he showed in refusing an offer of £10,000; at this time, however, the College case seemed strong enough to make a compromise undesirable.

Nor did the College escape the religious and political troubles of the 17th century. Nine fellows were ejected for refusing to swear to the Solemn League and Covenant; the Master, Rainbow, was evicted in 1650 but had his own restoration in 1660 at the expense of his successor, Sadler. The Act of Uniformity (1662) was responsible for the ejection of one fellow, or possibly two, and at the very end of the century yet another fellow lost his position because he was a non-juror. But national and College history most coincided when James II expelled the Master, John Peachell ('my old acquaintance, Mr. Peachell,' says Pepys, 'whose red nose makes me ashamed to be seen with him'). Peachell was ViceChancellor and refused to admit to a degree, at the royal command and without the taking of the proper oath, Albin Francis, a Benedictine monk. For this refusal, Peachell was deprived of the Vice-Chancellorship and suspended from the Mastership.

Among the alumni of the 16th and 17th centuries were Henry Dunster, first President of Harvard; Archbishop Ussher, one of the first students of Trinity College, Dublin; Samuel Pepys; Bishop Cumberland, one of the earliest English students of the Coptic language, and Waterland, the theologian.

Magdalene has never been a big college; in the first 350 years of its existence the greatest number of freshmen was 35, in 1623, and at the beginning of the 18th century only 5 or 6 entered yearly. But in the first 50 years of the Mathematical Tripos the College had 31 wranglers, with senior wranglers in 1752, 1757, and 1778; William Bell, 8th wrangler in 1753, was the founder of the University Bell scholarships.

Under Peckard (1781) and Farish the character of the College underwent a great change, for the Master tolerantly accepted and the Tutor actively encouraged the Evangelical movement of which Magdalene became a great centre. To it, and to Queens' College, the Elland Society sent its protégés to be prepared for ordination, and the Norrisian Divinity Prize went to the College fifteen times in the first 25 years of its foundation. Gretton, Peckard's successor in the mastership, complained that, though he drew his fellows from every College in the University, they all became 'Methodists' after a short time at Magdalene! Gunning comments on the tea-drinking habits of Magdalene men, with an amusing story of the frugal way in which they lived, and the first boat put on the river (1828) won the nickname of 'the Teakettle'. It may have been because of this Evangelical trend that the College took to adding a final e to its name, not merely in order to distinguish it from the Oxford Magdalen but also, perhaps, so as to bring the spelling into line with Biblical usage. But no record survives of any definite resolution and the exact date of the change is uncertain: it was probably some time between 1816 and 1820, since in each of these years the University Almanack contained an engraving of the College, the earlier inscribed Magdalen, the later, Magdalene. But for some little time the two styles seem to have existed concurrently; thus, so late as 1836 a sermon delivered on the occasion of the death of Charles Simeon describes the preacher as fellow and tutor of Magdalen College.

A further change took place during the 19th century. The Evangelical trend did not entirely disappear—Charles Kingsley graduated in 1842—but it was overlaid by a mixture of the scholarly and the aristocratic. Dons as well as undergraduates were affected and the Rev. E. Warter, tutor from 1842 to 1851, may perhaps stand for the type at its best; he is described by one of his pupils as 'most kind and painstaking, and a good rider to hounds'; but he had been 4th classic in 1834 and was an inspiring teacher. F. Gunton was another hunting don; he was 16th classic in 1867, having won Sir Thomas Browne's Medal two years earlier. Even in its most sporting and aristocratic phase the College continued to turn out good scholars, A. G. Peskett (Senior Classic 1875) being the most outstanding. To the earlier 19th century belong C. J. E. Acton, Cardinal Acton; the two Grants, Charles, Lord Glenelg, the Colonial Secretary, and Robert, Governor of Bombay and author of a well-known hymn (fn. 9); F. C. Penrose, the architect, and Mynors Bright, editor of what was for many years the authoritative edition of Pepys's Diary. In the second half of the century there were Arthur Cohen, for many years University Counsel; Alfred Newton, the ornithologist; J. R. Lumby, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and founder of the Early English Text Society; and C. S. Parnell, the true story of whose 'rustication' was told by A. S. Ramsey in the Magdalene Magazine of 1936.

In the middle of the 19th century Magdalene was still small, with an entry varying from 10 to 25, but there were four or five colleges which were smaller. The South African War had the effect of reducing the numbers considerably, but with the appointment of S. A. Donaldson as Master in 1904 they rose again and Magdalene, without losing that individuality which is the pride of every college, became a normal college of the smaller kind. By the inflated standards of two post-war periods of expansion the numbers, 271 in 1956, are still moderate.

Among distinguished Magdalene men still living are Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder, who entered the College as an undergraduate in 1909 and was, in 1950, elected Chancellor of the University; Prof. P. M. S. Blackett, F.R.S., a Nobel Prizewinner; Viscount de L'Isle, V.C., Secretary of State for Air (1951–5); The Right Hon. J. S. B. Lloyd, Foreign Secretary, 1955–; and the Most Rev. A. M. Ramsey, Archbishop of York, 1956– .


The more important pictures are: In the hall, copies of portraits of Lord Audley; Edward, Duke of Buckingham; Sir Christopher Wray; Bishop Rainbow; Bishop Cumberland; Peter Peckard and Mrs. Peckard, both by Ralph; Samuel Pepys, by Lely; Latimer Neville, 6th Lord Braybrooke, and Charles Kingsley, both by Lowes Dickinson; Rudyard Kipling; Thomas Hardy, sketch-portrait by Fuller Maitland; Lord Tedder, by Henry Carr; T. S. Eliot, by Wyndham Lewis.

In the large combination-room: Hezekiah Burton, by Mary Beale; Cardinal C. J. E. Acton; Thomas Kerrich, by J. R. Briggs; A. C. Benson and A. G. Peskett, both by Fuller Maitland; A. B. Ramsay, by James Gunn; Alfred Newton, by Lowes Dickinson; A. S. Ramsey and V. S. Vernon-Jones, both by Francis Dodd.

In the small combination-room, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.

In the Pepysian Library, Samuel Pepys, by Kneller.

In the Master's Lodge, Nicholas Ferrar, Mrs. Ferrar, and Nicholas Ferrar, jun., all by Jansen; the Countess of Portsmouth, by Jervais.

Plate. (fn. 10)

A considerable portion of the College plate was sent to Charles I, but seized on the way by the parliamentary forces. The surviving preRestoration plate consists of four early silver stoups, one of 1567, and the communion plate, a silver-gilt chalice and cover, 1586–7, two silver flagons, 1624, and a small silver paten, c. 1600. The rest of the plate includes a silver two-handled bowl with cover, surmounted by a bird, 1669–70, a silver ewer and rosewater dish, with palindrome, 1679–80, a cylindrical silver beaker, 1744, and four George II silver candlesticks, c. 1755.


(1) Silver, the gift of Benedict Spinola, c. 1575. Figure of St. Mary Magdalene, with, below, a wyvern (the crest of the Audley family). Inscription: SIGILLU COLLEGII S MARIE MAGDALENE IN ALMA ACHADEMIA SATA[sic]BRIGIE.

(2) Silver, the College arms, the seal in official use.

Robert Evans: 1542. (fn. 11)

Richard Carr: 1546.

Roger Kelke: 1559.

Richard Howland: 1576.

Henry Copinger: 1577.

Degory Nicholls: 16 Aug. 1577.

Thomas Nevile: 1582.

Richard Clayton: 1593.

John Palmer: 6 Feb. 1595.

Barnaby Goche: 1604.

Henry Smyth: 1626.

Edward Rainbow: 1642, deprived 1650, restored 1660.

John Sadler: 17 Oct. 1650.

John Howorth: 1664.

James Duport: 1668.

John Peachell: 1679.

Gabriel Quadring: 13 Feb. 1690.

Daniel Waterland: 7 Jan. 1713.

Edward Abbot: 1740.

Thomas Chapman: 9 Jan. 1746.

George Sandby: July (?) 1760.

Barton Wallop: 10 May 1774.

Peter Peckard: 4 Oct. 1781.

Thomas Gretton: 20 Dec. 1797.

George Neville-Grenville: 18 Oct. 1813.

Latimer Neville: 29 Dec. 1853.

Stuart Alexander Donaldson: 9 June 1904.

Arthur Christopher Benson: 9 Dec. 1915.

Allen Beville Ramsay: 14 Dec. 1925.

Henry Urmston Willink: 18 Jan. 1948.


  • 1. Unless otherwise noted, information is taken from Order Bks., Admission Bks., and other College archives.
  • 2. The history of the site to the mid-19th cent. is in Willis and Clark, Archit. Hist. ii. 351–8.
  • 3. Bodl. MS. Carte cxi, f. 465.
  • 4. For full descriptions see; Willis and Clark, Archit. Hist. ii. 359–86; R. Com. on Hist. Mon. Cambs.; Pevsner, Cambs. 94–102.
  • 5. For the buildings of Buckingham College and the 'Monk's Room' see R. W. McDowall in C.A.S. Comm. 1951, and R. W. McDowall and R. F. Bennett in Magdalene Coll. Mag. 1951.
  • 6. F. McD. C. Turner, brochure on the Library and its contents.
  • 7. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1547–80, p. 608; S.P. 12/127/17–18.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. 'O worship the King, all glorious above.'
  • 10. The plate has been described by E. A. Jones, Old Plate of Camb. Colls.; and in Country Life (1928). A photograph of the whole of the College plate is in the Magdalene Magazine, vi (1922).
  • 11. Dates of admission.