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Magdalen College Visit

Monday 16th January a small group of history loving children from Years 4, 5 and 6 visited Magdalen College Oxford. We were there to look at some historic documents of Basingstoke, as part of the Basingstoke Has History Schools Project. We were joined by Helen, from Hampshire Cultural Trust, who set up the Schools Project. 


Magdalen College was founded by William Waynflete, the Bishop of Winchester in 1458. Waynflete provided the college with lands to help fund the building and scholars. Large parts of Basingstoke were gifted to, and then owned by the College. 

We were invited to explore the archives and some of the documents related to the town.


Richard, the archivist, planned a lovely morning. We walked through the college grounds, past the herd of deer, to drop our bags in the library. Splitting into two groups, we spent the morning having a tour of the college with Emily (Richard's colleague) and climbing the spiral staircase the the Muniment Room. 


The Muniment Room was built in the 1480's as a space to store charters and other official documents - and it still does! containing the original cupboards, floor tiles and chests, the room was very atmospheric. Richard explained how the documents are organised and stored, including the modern technology that controls the atmosphere in the room. 


He showed us the box documents about Basingstoke are stored and picked one at random to show the group. The second group up the stairs were very lucky - Richard selected a document with the Seal of Henry II. 

We joined together at the 15th century library (re furnished in the Victorian period) to look at more documents of our town. The documents ranged from the 1200s to the 20th century. We had fun trying to find the name 'Basingstoke' on all of them - make tricky by the different spelling and intricate styles of handwriting. 


We all enjoyed looking at the documents, seeing what we could read and looking at the various seals. We all ahd a favourite but the most voted for was the map. 


The children also enjoyed being shown through the secret door and discovering what lay beyond... (a meeting room)

In the library we also learning about the development of organising and storing books, as-well-as some fun stories about Magdalen and it's famous students. 


After we collected our lunch, we went to central Oxford and found somewhere to warm up (old buildings can be very cold, even inside). We ended our day with a walk along some roads to look at the Bodleian Library and other colleges, We ended our walk outside the decorated gates on Magdalen College. 

We would like to thank Richard, Emily and Magdalen College for a wonderful day. The children and adults loved learning about the college and handling evidence of Basingstoke's history. We would also like to thank Alexy, the Outreach Fellow, for joining us in the library and offering financial support to make the trip happen. 


We look forward to sharing our work towards the Basingstoke History Project with Richard, Emily, Alexy and all our families in the Summer Term.