Restoration Project Underway for Historic Bodley and Garner Gate

a 19th century photograph of the bodley garner gate. The gates are open, and you can clearly see the intricate stone work and statuary all over the gate.

10 June 2024

Restorations are currently under way to restore the Bodley Garner Gate – what’s now the main gate into College from the High – as its has become very weathered over time. Magdalen is well known for its stunning medieval buildings, and especially its façade along the High Street, including the iconic Magdalen Tower from which the choir sings every May Morning.

You would be forgiven for thinking that all the College buildings facing onto the high are medieval. However, this entrance gate designed by the acclaimed architects George Frederick Bodley and Thomas Garner, was actually erected in 1885, long after the college’s founding in 1458. The gate’s plain Gothic style, complete with gables and intricate stone carvings of significant college figures, is an incredible piece of stone work and craftmanship that we would like to restore and preserve for as long as possible.

In light of this, we’ve been granted Listed Building Consent to conserve the 1885 Bodley and Garner Gate. The works, which are estimated to take around two years, are necessary to restore lost detailing, and keep the stone from further deterioration. In areas the limestone has weathered significantly and the decorative detailing or original designs have been lost, and the deterioration has been further compounded by cement repairs undertaken during the 1950s.

The most recent phase of work on the gate involves the detailed recording of the existing stonework and the temporary removal of the three sculptures for restoration, so if you come to College over the next few years you may notice that the gate is looking a little bare. Over the next year the replacement stone will be carved by a local stone carver ready for installation in 2025, at which time the gate will be restored to its former glory.