Following the success of the Martyrs’ Memorial at Oxford, Sir George Gilbert Scott and Moffatt were commissioned, in 1842, to provide a new north aisle to the chancel of St. Mary Magdalene to give the Memorial an appropriate background, at the cost of £8,000. This is a very sophisticated design in late thirteenth century style to match the Memorial, with alternating geometric and flowing tracery to the windows. The Norman chancel arch was removed and replaced by Perpendicular style piers, with two stained glass windows inserted. Pevsner claims that it has considerable historical importance, as ‘the earliest piece of archaeologically respectful Gothic at Oxford. It proves that Scott was in this not simply Pugin’s successor but that he had reached the same standards, concurrently with, and independently of, Pugin’.

The New Library (as it was called) was formerly the Magdalen College School that originally opened in 1851 and was later converted to library use in the early 1930s by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The New Library was opened by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, in 1932. It sits right on the corner of the High Street and Longwall Street, looking to the untutored eye exactly like a college chapel, with its tall, nod-to-gothic steeply gabled roof and ecclesiastical windows.

Pevsner, N. and Sherwood, J., Oxfordshire, Buildings of England (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1974), p. 294.