The Ivory Towers of All Souls College in Oxford

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The College of All Souls of the Faithful Departed was founded by Henry VI and Henry Chichele (Archbishop of Canterbury) in 1438. Unlike other Oxford colleges this one accepts only PhD Fellows and not undergraduate students.

It is famous for being extremely selective, until 2010 candidates were given only one word with which they had to write an essay for three hours, it was considered the most difficult exam in the world. Now the entrance exam has changed, but it remains extremely selective. After two days of exams about 5 finalists are invited to dinner and they have to take an oral test.

When you visit it, you cannot fail to notice the two towers of All Souls College, Hawksmoor Towers (it is said that the term Ivory Tower, used to describe the place where very academic people who have no contact with reality discuss problems, comes from these towers. Others say the term comes from the tower of Magdalen College).

You can also see the sundial built by Christopher Wren, the architect who planned London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. If you look closely, especially in the buildings to the north, you will see a series of terrifying gargoyles. Between the buildings to the north and those to the south is the chapel, unfortunately the original statues were destroyed in 1600 by some puritans and what you see are replicas of the 1800s.

The window, which you see in the western wall is called The Royal Window and dates back to to 1400 but obviously it has been changed several times. 

This college can only be visited from 2 to 4 pm on weekdays when the college is open, admission is free. A visit to Oxford could be a pleasant day trip from London.

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