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Oxford Scholar Leaves College a Bequest That Depends on Time

June 12, 2006

A fellow of the University of Oxford’s All Souls College, a graduate institution founded in 1438 that chooses only the top scholars as fellows, once said, “We may elect cranks but we don’t elect fools.” The author of that observation, John Simmons, a Slavonic scholar, has given it a fresh meaning. According to today’s Daily Telegraph, Mr. Simmons, who died last September at 90, has bequeathed a share of his £888,000 estate to the college on condition that it restore a sundial to its original location in an All Souls quadrangle. The sundial, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1658, was moved in 1870. Mr. Simmons argued for the return of the sundial during his decades on the faculty. College officials are considering what to do.