BADA Summer Intern Saira Khan shares some of her discoveries about the historical Magdalen College which hosts the Midsummer in Oxford program.



Because it reminds us of Hogwarts, which was full of secrets… So Magdalen must be too, right? You may think you know the college inside and out, but prepare to be WOWED by these little known facts.


1. In one of the biggest plot twists of my life, Magdalen College is actually not pronounced phonetically! Rather than mahg-duh-len, this school is actually referred to as maud-lyn… How that works, I’m not entirely sure, but knowing that should get me into Oxford now, right? To the many of you who have been strutting around Oxford claiming your residence at mahg-duh-len, please find comfort in knowing that I have been doing the exact same thing, and I’m only slightly embarrassed by the fact.


2. Magdalen boasts a host of successful alumni, but the name that might ring the loudest bell to any of you theatre folks is Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webber composed the music for many award-winning musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, The Wizard of Oz, and the more recent hit on Broadway, School of Rock. Webber has received Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy Awards, Olivier Awards, and Tony Awards in multitudes. You’re tracing the steps of a theatre legend!


3. Magdalen College has a very bizarre May Day tradition amongst its students. Students pull an all nighter (as do local bars and pubs) for parties and celebrations. At 5am on the morning of May 1st, thousands of students, and locals, gather on Magdalen Bridge for music, dancing, and general debauchery while the college choir sings from the top of Magdalen Tower. Many students even jump from the bridge into the water!


4. As we all know, Oscar Wilde studied at Magdalen College (and there are classes in a room dedicated to him!). While at Magdalen, Wilde developed a bit of a reputation for himself. Students and faculty alike knew him for his decadent aesthetic choices. His hair was very long, he actively spoke of his scorn for “manly sports”, and he used peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, and blue china to decorate his room. “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china,” he said to his friends. I think he ultimately did!


5. During the reign of James II in 1687, Magdalen’s President died, prompting a dramatic period in their history. James attempted to force the college Fellows to take in a President of his choice, but the fellows were not having it. James, the clearly self-righteous King, was so frustrated that he didn’t get his way that he demanded every Fellow who rejected him be immediately expelled. The whole debacle caused national attention and outrage – everybody applauded the bravery of the Fellows while criticizing the King! Finally, James dropped his stubborn attitude, and reinstated the expelled Fellows. Too late, James! He was removed from power just a few weeks later. So, in short, Magdalen got a King deposed… And I think that’s pretty big.

By BADA Summer Intern Saira Khan