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5th July 2012

Olympic Rings

Posted in: LASSCO News

We’ve been rummaging around in Magdalen Tower, Oxford and we emerged with the oak bell wheels – now surplus to requirements after the re-hanging of the bells there in the Spring. We bought them, not really knowing what we were going to do with them.

Olympic Rings Architectural Salvage
Olympic Rings from Architectural Salvage

Having got them back to The Three Pigeons (we are only 9miles from Oxford) we re-assembled them…. and, well …. we got a bit carried away!

There is an art to making these wheels: oak for strength in the spokes, ash for its flexibility in the rim and elm for the shrouds to guard against splitting. With this provenance they are fantastic and even quite decorative relics of old Oxford.

From Wikipedia: “Magdalen Tower is one of the oldest parts of Magdalen College, Oxford, situated directly in the High Street. Built of stone from 1492, when the foundation stone was laid, its bells hung ready for use in 1505, and completed by 1509, it is an important element of the Oxford skyline. At 144 feet (44 m) high, it is the tallest building in Oxford. It dominates the eastern entrance to the city, towering over Magdalen Bridge and with good views from the Botanic Garden opposite.

The tower, joined to the south range of college buildings, is built in four storeys unequal in height. Octagonal turrets encase the corners; the slightly larger northwest turret encloses the spiral stair, lit by slit windows. The basement is windowless; the second and third stages have small windows in three sides; the fourth, principal storey is loftier, with a double window on each face divided by a buttress rising through the panelled frieze and mock battlements, where it is surmounted by a figure in a niche crowned by a pinnacle slightly smaller that the four pinnacles that crown the corners.

Magdalen Tower, Oxford
Magdalen Tower, Oxford

The tower contains a peal of ten bells hung for English change ringing. They were cast at a number of different foundries and the heaviest, weighing 17 cwt, was cast in 1623. The bells are rung on many occasions during the year by the Oxford Society of Change Ringers at the invitation of the college. Such occasions include significant royal and college anniversaries, and after some religious ceremonies in the College Chapel. The bells received their last major overhaul in 2012, being returned to the tower in March.”

Please contact for more information about the Magdalen Tower bell wheels. They will be catalogued shortly.