Magdalen College

Items from the library at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Founded in 1458 by Bishop William Waynflete, Magdalen College has amassed an impressive collection of manuscripts, rare books and archive material throughout its history. The basis of the library and archive collection was formed from a donation of 800 volumes sent by Waynflete himself, but this collection has naturally expanded substantially throughout the subsequent centuries.

Today, the college libraries and archive house a collection of around 20,000 rare books and several hundred manuscripts. As would be expected, these items reflect the diverse nature of study at the college and cover a range of different subjects, from theology and botany to astronomy and classics.

Many of the most interesting items in the Magdalen collection are available to view in Digital Bodleian. Of particular note is the Foundation Deed of the college from the Archives (MC: CRC/81), Cardinal Wolsey’s beautifully decorated Gospel Lectionary from 1529 (MS Lat 223), and the early fragments of the Gospel of St Matthew (MS Gr 17). These fragments may be the earliest known fragments of the New Testament and one of the earliest codices in existence.