|Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by Bishop Waynflete, LordChancellor of England, for the study of theology and philosophy. The site was originally occupied by the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, parts of which are incorporated in the college buildings. St. John’s Quad is named after this hospital. The original approach to the college was via the Gravel Walk and through a gateway into an open forecourt which became St John’s Quad. The quad, recently re-paved, provides access to the President’s Lodgings, the Grammar Hall and the Founder’s Tower.
The Bell Tower is one of the finest examples of Perpendicular gothic style. The tower was started in 1492, the same year Columbus discovered America. At 44 metres high and originally intended to be free-standing, its ornate top storey has eight crocketed pinnacles, octagonal corner buttresses and a fretwork balustrade. The figures in the niches of the pinnacles are St. John the Baptist and Mary Magdalen. The Bell Tower contains a ring of ten bells. The oldest bell was cast in about 1410. In 1505 the bell tower of the Hospital was demolished and this bell was moved to the new tower. A sixth bell was added by 1643. In 1712 two more bells were added and a further two added in 1740. At 6am on May Morning the Magdalen Choir sings Hymnus Eucharisticus from the tower.