Hi, this is Raffa and today I’d like to transport you to the centre of Oxford to get a glimpse of the May Day celebrations and to explore Magdalen Tower – one of the best-loved members of Oxford’s iconic skyline. I hope your child will feel inspired and ready to draw their ‘May Day’ tower using the fun sheets below. Ready? Let’s dive in…
It’s very early morning and, as you approach Oxford city centre, the sky has just turned pink and the birds are twitting. It’s May Day in the city of dreaming spires and today will be a truly exciting and special experience.
The first stop is Magdalen Tower. Many people like you are at the bottom of the tower, holding their breath, in silence, so as to hear the college choir singing Hymnus Eucharisticus, as the clock turns 6.00am. The ethereal sound reverberates throughout the city and all seems calm during the few minutes of exquisite singing. After the singing the bells of Magdalen Tower ring out for 20 minutes: Spring has finally arrived!
During your time at the bottom of the tower, you cannot avoid looking at it and admiring its beauty.
The Magdalen tower is the tallest structure in Oxford and from such a height, you could get a distinctive impression of how cosy Oxford is, with the city flanked by the gently rolling hills of the Cotswolds on the west, and the sharp incline of Headington Hill to the east. The tower is part of Magdalen College, which is situated in the High Street.
It’s a stone tower with four storeys. Octagonal turrets with pinnacles encase the corners; the slightly larger turret encloses the spiral stair. The ground floor of the tower is windowless, the second and third have small windows on three sides; the fourth has a double window on each face of the tower. The tower contains a peal of ten bells hung for English change ringing.
Towers are tall structures, and they are taller than their width, often by a significant factor. Towers can be habitable or not, but they are built to serve other functions using their height. For example, they increase the visibility of their surroundings to the people at the top, or increase the sound of bells. Over the centuries towers were built all around the world and inspired artists from all disciplines: composers, poets, painters and architects! And now it’s your turn to design your ‘May Day’ tower.