All Soul’s College is 5 minutes away from Oxford city centre. This does not take in under-graduate or graduate students but only the research Fellows can join this college as students. All Soul’s College was established in 1438 as war memorial between Britain and France . The students in this college are known to be one of the Geekieststudents in Oxford University . However, one of the students of All Soul’s College use to stand up every time when porridge was served. When he was asked that why he stands up when porridge was served then he replied that “no Scots man sits down to eat porridge”.
Lawrence of Arabia joined this college and devised a plan that all deer from Magdalene College should be driven toAll Souls College in Oxford City. This plan never prevailed but his works in destroying the Ottoman Empire and leading the establishment of Modern Middle East was successful.
All Souls College also celebrates an ancient tradition ceremony, Hunting the Mallard. The legend says that while digging the foundations of college a Mallard was found and after that a tradition started of celebrating that day a Mallard or Gaudy Night. In this tradition, the Fellows elect a Lord Mallard and six officers. All of them wear a medal which depicts the duck. The tradition kicks off with all the involved members having white staffs, flaming torches and lanterns forming a procession. While performing this tradition Fellows sing a special song called“Mallard Song”.
Mallard Song is one of the top quirky Oxford University Traditions
It goes like this,
The Griffin , Bustard , Turkey , Capon,
Let others hungry mortals gape on,
And on their bones with stomach’s fall hard,
But let All Souls Men have their Mallard.
While singing the Mallard Hunting song, Fellows will search through the cellar,
all the rooms for students, knock on every door, in the kitchen and under the dining table, until morning.
This extreme tradition has extended out the college and entered Oxford City . So, locals and tourist you may hear loud sounds of the Mallard King and roughly 40 Fellows with lanterns who walk around the city and knock the doors of innocent people, while looking for a giant bird that is non-existence.
Some of the courageous people of Oxford City has raised their voices against this another silly Oxford traditionand recommended that “gentlemen should not undertake such task of hunting a giant Mallard which does not exists”. But these traditions are not given-up easily by Oxford University Fellows, specially if locals are annoyed by them.
As a visiting tourist you can take a sigh of relief because this tradition is only performed on 14th January every 100 years!
All Souls College can be visited on week days by tourist after 2 pm from High Street. While visiting this beautiful college, every visitor should carefully look for the Wren’s Sundial which also can be seen from St Mary’s passage when entering though the High street and going towards the Radcliffe Camera.
By the way, the sundial is at a wrong place. A dying Fellow of All Soul’s college wanted to donate near to a million pound to All Souls College if they would have agreed to move the Wren’s sundial to the correct place where it ought to be.
Guess what. All Souls College Fellows did what any other Oxford college would have done in regards of decisions making. The refused it and the money went to the Bodleain Library, which was also not complaining after getting close to a million pounds as donation.