Magdalene College (pronounced 'Maudlin') was founded in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel before being refounded in 1542 as the College of St. Mary Magdalene, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The refoundation was largely the work of Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII. Audley also gave the College its motto - 'garde ta foy' - keep your faith. Audley's successors in the Mastership and as benefactors of the College were however prone to dire ends; several benefactors were arraigned at various stages on charges of high treason and executed.
The College's most famous son is Samuel Pepys, whose papers and books were donated to the College upon his death, and are now housed in the Pepys Library, the most beautiful building within the College. Magdalene is both famous and notorious for its 'traditional' style, boasting both a well-regarded formal hall (held every evening) and the unfortunate distinction of having been the last previously all-male College in Oxford or Cambridge to admit women in 1988 (Oriel College was the last in Oxford, opening its doors to equality in 1984).
Aesthetically Magdalene's old College buildings are beautiful if representative of the College's ramshackle growth from a monks' foundation into a centre of education. It's also distinctive in that most of the old buildings are in brick rather than stone (save for the frontage of the Pepys Library).
Magdalene remains, despite expansion in the twentieth century, one of the smaller colleges within the University, at last count numbering 311 undergraduates and a small but vibrant postgraduate community.
Notable Old Members:
Samuel Pepys (diarist), Sir Michael Redgrave (actor), George Mallory (mountaineer), John Simpson (journalist), Bamber Gascoigne (TV presenter, University Challenge), Alan Rusbridger (editor, The Guardian), Gavin Hastings OBE (rugby international), Charles Stewart Parnell (Irish nationalist), Sir Anthony Jay (author, Yes, Minister), C.S. Lewis (author and theologian), Henry Dunster (first President of Harvard University).