Already surfeited with the unique views afforded us by our gracious host we little knew what still awaited us before we “fell into the arms of Morpheus”.
Passing through the august portal of Magdalen we turned right instead of left and up a winding stair and out onto a peculiar walk along the top of the cloister where apparently it is the custom for the academic fellows to emerge at certain times in the year to parade up and down in their academic gowns. From below I am sure they must look like a murder of crows and the whole thing sounds like some unsettling scene from “Gormanghast” and probably was the inspiration for the same. A secret door, let into the panelling into the astonishing Elizabethan dining hall provides egress and our port induced flights of fancy ran wild as we imagined the scene.
Another door then led us into what was known as the “smoking room” and are never open to the public. It is impossible to do justice to these 2 rooms which were gems of medieval architecture and epitomised everything that is luxurious and beautiful. The finest panelling, the best furniture, porcelain and assorted object de vertu were arranged with perfect taste and although each item was worth a fortune they were all used daily by the fortunate few who had access to this perfect haven of ease and beauty.
Resisting the temptation to start ladling quantities of priceless treasures into my man bag, I attempted to appear nonchalant while The Don showed us the collection of photographs of notable fellows, the betting book and a Nobel prize for Chemistry which we handled with due reverence.
Alas, I do this but scant justice as nothing can describe it. Unfortunately I did not have my camera handy so unless you can become a fellow at Magdalen it is unlikely that you will ever know what we saw that night.
It was undoubtedly one of the best evenings I have ever spent and yet another reason to remain every grateful to The Don for the wonderful experiences he has given to the most humbled writer of these little memoirs.
Chapter the 8th – a synopsis
Papa Bouiloire Goes to Stonehenge and Bath!
Wherein is recorded how I trod in a cow pat.
All of Papa Bouilloire’s adventures can be found below for those whose constitutions are sufficiently strong to cope with tales filled with thrills and adventure.