Magdalene College


Magdalene college, Cambridge University. Quayside view with punts moored on the bank of the River Cam

Radek Sturgolewski/Shutterstock

Riverside Magdalene often catches people out – the college name is properly pronounced 'Maud-lyn'. This former Benedictine hostel's greatest asset is the Pepys Library, housing 3000 books bequeathed by the mid-17th-century diarist to his old college. This idiosyncratic collection of beautifully bound tomes is ordered by height. Treasures include vivid medieval manuscripts and the Anthony Roll, a 1540s depiction of the Royal Navy's ships.

Magdalene was the last college to let women study there; when they were finally admitted in 1988, some male students wore black armbands and flew the college flag at half mast.