e-Matters 15th October 2021

Dear Members and Friends,

This edition of e-Matters comes to you at the end of First Week, with freshers settling in and the college having a much greater sense of normality than last term. 

Since the last edition, we have welcomed over 800 alumni and friends back to the House at Gaudies for 1971-75 and 1976-80, the Board of Benefactors Gaudy, our celebrations of 40 years of women at Christ Church, and importantly, a leavers’ dinner for the students that went down in 2020 without the chance to celebrate.    Thank you to all of you who joined us at one or more of these events.  It’s been a pleasure to meet more members of the House and to witness many happy reunions. Next year’s gaudies will be on 24th June for 1981-85 and 30th September for 1986-1989, and next year’s Reunion Dinners will be on 19th March for the 1960/61/70/71/80/81/90/91 cohorts who missed out in the last two years, and 25th March for the 1962/72/82 and 92 years. Do put the dates in your diaries. A full calendar of events for 2022 will be sent out later this term.  

Those who have been back to the college at recent events will have noticed the scaffolding around Canterbury and the Old Library and this edition of E-Matters features a fascinating article by the House Archaeologist on discoveries found during the renovation work.  We also have pleasure in sharing a recent concert by the Christ Church Cathedral girls’ choir, Frideswide Voices, as well as news from members of the SCR and alumni.  

Please do get in touch if you would like to contribute to the next edition.

Very best wishes,
Philippa Roberts
Development Director


News from the House

Women's 40th Weekend

The 40 Years of Women at the House weekend took place in September and was a wonderful occasion as alum from 1979 through to 2021 attended a myriad of events.
Women's weekend group photo

The weekend began with a Friday buffet supper in the Freind Room, allowing attendees to connect with friends old and new, and previous women JCR and GCR Presidents, joined by the current Presidents, Anjali Ramanathan (2020) and Linnea Drexhage (2019), met for drinks and discussed the trials and joys of leading Christ Church’s diverse student bodies.

Women's weekend Attendees had a plethora of choice on the Saturday, beginning with a welcome talk from Professor Judith Pallot, the first woman Official Student, and included: a discussion by the Women Curators of the Picture Gallery; a lecture entitled "A Very Short History of Reading", by Dr Belinda Jack; garden and cathedral tours; a library exhibition; an academic panel on current research; a stunning piano recital in the Chapter House; an art workshop, and a wine tasting. The day was a celebration of the work, knowledge, and achievements of women at the House. Following Evensong, and drinks in Tom Quad, there was a formal dinner in Hall, which started with a poetry reading by Dr. Vahni Capildeo, which included impressive speeches from Dame Emma Walmsley, and Professor Geraldine Johnson.
The weekend was rounded off on the Sunday with a family BBQ day, filling the sports ground and college with noise and laughter after many months of quiet—thank you to all who attended!

A special thanks to Emily Robotham for launching Christ Church's English Sparkling Wine over the weekend—as all who had a glass can attest, it tastes marvellous.
We would also like to extend our thanks to all who made the weekend possible, including Jacqueline Thalmann, Professor Catherine Whistler, Dr Joanna Woodall, Lucy Whitaker, Professor Emanuela Tandello, Gabriel Sewell, Cristina Neagu, Judith Curthoys, Dr Belinda Jack, Professor Jennifer Yee, Dr Sarah Mortimer, Dr Lucy Parker, Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones, Dr Lucy Taylor, Emily Robotham, John James, Revd Clare Hayns, Judith Valerie Engel, Ellie Thompson, all the Hall staff, the Student Ambassadors, and Matilda Hadcock.


Professor Sarah Gilbert: Vaxxers

Photo of Sarah GilbertIn their recently published book Vaxxers, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology and Senior Associate Research Fellow at Christ Church, and her colleague Dr Catherine Green, who led on the manufacturing of the vaccine, share the heart-stopping moments in the eye of the storm. They separate fact from fiction and explain how they made a highly safe vaccine in record time with the eyes of the world watching.

Vaxxers Book CoverThe Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the UK’s leading coronavirus vaccines and the government has ordered 100 million doses (enough for 50 million people, many of whom have already received it). The vaccine is both cheaper and easier to distribute than some other vaccines as it can be stored at fridge temperatures. As this life-saving, cutting-edge science releases us from lockdown and gives hope for the future, Vaxxers invites us into the lab and, with vivid and compelling detail, shines light on exactly how the vaccine was designed and manufactured at huge scale and at rapid speed (it took just 65 days to go from DNA construct to clinical trial), without compromising on safety.

Sarah and Cath share the major milestones of the story from their own unique perspectives, and the sheer hard work and personal pressures they faced along the way, from the day in January 2020 when they first heard the news of the virus in China, to the day the vaccine efficacy was revealed, and then rolled out around the world.

They explore the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy, how science is communicated in the media, and how science and politics collide. They also look to the future and ask what lessons can be learned from this pandemic to prepare us for the inevitable next time.

Click here to order Vaxxers.


Concert by Frideswide Voices

The Christ Church Cathedral Music Trust is delighted to share a special concert with you, given by the Christ Church Cathedral girls' choir, Frideswide Voices

Frideswide Voices are an important part of our music provision at Christ Church and sing in the Cathedral each week alongside the Lay and Academical Clerks. The Choir is directed by conductor and organist, Helen Smee, who has given this short statement about the recording of the concert: 

"Recording the concert has been an invigorating start to the academic year; a full concert programme to learn alongside preparing for our usual round of services has meant that the girls have had to hit the ground running! Much of the preparation took place at our Summer 'boot camp': one of our bi-annual 3-day courses held before term starts. Away from the pressures of term, when the girls' time on site at Christ Church is limited and tightly timetabled, girls and staff were glad to have time to explore the themes of the programme - what it means to be 'at home', what we look for in a community, and how and why composers and poets are so often drawn back to defining this key human experience.

The girls were particularly entranced by Benjamin Britten's folksong arrangements, which form the backbone of the programme. Britten, perhaps above any of his contemporaries, was supremely gifted at presenting seemingly 'simple' music in a manner simultaneously rich and yet never over-composed; like so many of their predecessors, the choristers love singing Britten's music and somehow inhabit it almost without encouragement. Having learnt much of Britten's A ceremony of carols online, via Zoom, during lockdown, I'm very much looking forward to working through the rest of the set with them this year. - perhaps we will even manage to squeeze in a performance over the festive season. 

As I write this, the girls are well into the swing of the new academic year. Having had a very challenging year - either at home and singing only online, or singing services socially-distanced in half-choir groups - it has been a relief and joy to be back in the choir stalls and able to return to some normality. Having begun the year with this concert, and a chance to reach out to so many supporters of music and the arts in the wider Christ Church community, I hope that we'll have the opportunity to share much more music - both from the choir stalls and the concert platform - in the coming months"

The concert can be accessed here.

We hope you enjoy the concert!

Old Library Renovation Work

TBlocked windowhe Coronavirus pandemic has impacted on all areas of life at Christ Church, but one unexpected, and beneficial, side-effect has been that necessary work to upgrade student and staff accommodation could be brought forward because buildings have stood empty for so long. The programme, which started in Peckwater Quad, has thus progressed to the Old Library earlier than expected. It is now shrouded with scaffolding, and outdated built-in furniture from the 1970s has already been removed.

Painted VaultThe building’s name refers to its use a Christ Church’s first formal library from the late 16th to the late 18th century – but it has an even more interesting origin than this: it was built as the Fratry (refectory) of St Fridewide’s Priory. The surviving medieval architecture – especially four windows high on the north side and one on the east – suggests a 15th-century date. This also tallies well with the Old Library’s most remarkable (but barely known) feature – the pulpit, built into a buttress on its south side. This was used for readings from the Bible during the friars’ mealtimes. It is remarkably intact, with a painted miniature fan vault supported on delicate wall-shafts. Seeing inside it has been a rare privilege – but one more people will be able to enjoy: the pulpit will no longer be hidden behind a locked door, East Windowbut opened to view once the refurbishment is complete. Meanwhile, a 3D model of this beautiful medieval feature can be seen at https://p3d.in/YQBDN. Elsewhere we have also found that the interior had a continuous set of blank arches (known as blind arcading) around its north, east and south sides. At the moment we don’t know whether this continued on the west side as well, but there was a massive window here – blocked up after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

South window

For an archaeologist like me, the project has been great to work on in many other ways – it’s very rare to have such a chance to unveil a building’s history down the ages. Probably the biggest surprise (so far!) is that the Fratry is actually 200 years older than we thought: we have found clusters of circular shafts typical of the mid-13th century in each of its four corners on the top floor. Strangely, these had been seen before but went unrecorded: we know this because the shafts had been boxed in with plywood, presumably in the 1970s, concealing them. Sadly all four clusters were badly damaged when the floors for student rooms were installed in the late 18th century – this is probably when the late medieval blind arcading was mutilated as well, so that flat wall faces of lath and plaster could be built.

Recording work continues, and a full report on the results will be available when the work is complete.
Graham Keevill
House Archaeologist
October 2021  


Wedding at the House

Lucy and Alex with Clare HaynsCongratulations to Lucy Pearce (2014) and Alex Trafford (2014) who met during Freshers' Week and got married in the Cathedral this Summer!

Lucy and Alex share with us their experience of getting married at the House:

"While considering venues for our marriage, Christ Church stood out as the most meaningful and magical option. Christ Church means a great deal to both of us, considering that it is where we met and our relationship started. It seemed only natural that almost seven years after meeting on the first day of fresher’s week, we came back to Christ Church to get married.

Wedding in the CathedralChrist Church is important to us in a greater capacity than just as a place we studied. It was where we formed lasting friendship groups (most of whom were also at the wedding!), it was the first place we lived together as a couple and the place where we grew into adults. That’s why it felt more than anything like coming home to get married. The perfect place to end that first chapter of our lives, before embarking upon our next adventure as a couple.

The cathedral was an excellent venue, not just for its stunning picturesque looks, but thanks to all the staff who helped ensure that the day ran smoothly and provided suggestions on how to best enjoy what the college has to offer. Many of our guests who had also studied at the House, mentioned how nice it was to come back and see everybody after a few years away and it really was a magical day for all involved. We wanted to give a special thanks to Clare Hayns, the chaplain, who was fantastic throughout the whole process in organising our marriage in the cathedral. Having been a great support and friend to Lucy during her undergraduate studies, it was a wonderful opportunity to be married by someone we were close to, making the ceremony incredibly personal and meaningful."

Current members, regular congregants and Old Members graduating within ten years can get married at the House. For more information, please contact Clare Hayns, College Chaplain, at clare.hayns@chch.ox.ac.uk..


James Potter's Article in Organists' Review

Organist ReviewJames Potter, Director of Cathedral Singers, published an article about former Christ Church Dean Henry Aldrich for the September edition of the periodical Organists' Review. Co-authored with Dr Dean Jobin-Bevans of Lakehead University, Canada, the article focuses on what the organ-books from Henry Aldrich's collection in the Library can tell us about musical performance in the College and Cathedral after the Restoration.

See below for the summary of the article:

Henry Aldrich arrived at Christ Church in 1662 as a King’s Scholar from Westminster School. Only two years earlier, the monarchy had been restored, leaving, Samuel Pepys observed, ‘all the world in a merry mood because of the King’s coming’. Aldrich arrived in Oxford at a propitious moment, and would go on to be instrumental in rebuilding the College’s traditions, including its musical traditions – something he did with extraordinary zeal. The scope of his interests was wide-ranging, including publications on architecture and design, logic and mathematics, heraldry, and musical composition. Aldrich was a driving force in the latter field, and his activities shaped the music programme in the Cathedral at Christ Church during a period of tremendous flux and reform.

Aldrich’s legacy to Christ Church is considerable, and includes numerous pieces relating to the design and construction of the Peckwater Quadrangle. Additionally, the Henry Aldrich Music Manuscript Collection at Christ Church is a unique and significant collection of music source materials. Research on the manuscript collection continues to shed light on many aspects of the Christ Church Cathedral music programme during the 17th century, including the complementary relationship between the choral vocal partbooks and organ-books, the possible dating of individual entries into the manuscripts, the determination of a standard repertoire for services at Christ Church Cathedral in the post-Restoration era, and the legacy of the organists in the Cathedral and the instruments they played.

Please click here to access full article on the Organists' Review website.


From the Library

Dante ExhibitionTo honour the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, Christ Church hosts a small and focused display of books and drawings from the Renaissance period. Two early printed editions of Dante’s Comedy, describing the poet’s vision of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, show the impact of the new technology on the appearance of the poem and its illustration. Three fine drawings from the late 16th century by Jacopo Ligozzi, the principal surviving evidence of a larger project to create engravings to accompany the entire poem, give the visitor a dramatic introduction to the narrative of the poet who is lost in the forest, assailed by wild beasts, and helped towards salvation by the poet Virgil.

This small exhibition in collaboration with Christ Church Library - Special Collections opens in the Picture Gallery from 1 October to 19 December 2021.

Click here to read more about the Library exhibition.


News from Alumni

Picture of Anthony ReesAnthony Rees:  A New History of Vaccines for Infectious Diseases: Chance and Necessity for Immunization

A New History of Vaccines for Infectious DiseasesProfessor Anthony R. Rees, Student in Biochemistry from 1980 to 1990, introduces his new book, A New History of Vaccines for Infectious Diseases: Chance and Necessity for Immunization, which will be released in February 2022:

The concept for this book was rather simple. Read the medical and social literature for the last few thousand years, review the analyses of expert vaccine historians, and then produce a narrative that is accessible to a wide range of readers, by focusing as much on the people involved in the science as the science itself. To be honest, as I got started the wide range idea condensed a little into ‘scientists and those who teach science’. But when I started researching the history two years ago the world had not yet met COVID19. Since January 2020 the language of vaccines, how they work, the immune defenders they induce and the symptomatology of a seriously infectious respiratory virus, have all been launched into a lingua franca at an extraordinary pace, and at a level that I hope now opens up this history of a complex, multidisciplinary scientific area to much of that original wide audience I wanted. The past experiences in vaccine development have much to teach us. Sadly, advocates of historical revisionism may focus their attention on the scientific failures and clinical cul-de-sacs as evidence of vaccine ineffectiveness. I hope that at the very least this book leaves the reader in awe at the phenomenal scientific advances that have led to this most important medical treatment for the prevention of infectious diseases.

Click here to pre-order A New History of Vaccines for Infectious Diseases: Chance and Necessity for Immunization.


Dr Ross Cole (2006): The Folk

Picture of Ross ColeThe FolkDr Ross Cole (2006), a Fellow of Homerton College Cambridge and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Music, has recently published his book The Folk: Music, Modernity, and the Political Imagination.

Dr Cole sets out to answer the question who are 'the folk' in folk music? Using a broad, interdisciplinary approach, Cole traces the musical culture of the elusive 'folk' in Britain and the US during a crucial period of industrialization from 1870 to 1930, and beyond to the contemporary alt-right. The Folk examines the political dimensions of a recurrent longing for folk culture, and how it was called upon for radical and reactionary ends at the apex of empire. 

"A gracefully written compelling account of the relationship between music and ideological constructions of ‘the folk’ in the UK and the US. A confident and illuminating book."—Sarah Hill, author of San Francisco and the Long 60

The Folk is available on Amazon, Waterstones, and Foyles.

More information can be found here: Ross Cole


Hugh Sockett (1956): The Estella Trilogy

Cover of Pip and Estella by Professor Hugh SockettProfessor Hugh Sockett (1956) has recently published two of his books in The Estella Triology: Pip and Estella, and Better Expectations.

Pip and Estella is a sequel to Great Expectations that continues themes of shame, guilt, love, religion, war, murder and the wealth gap, developed within a quasi-feminist stance.  Estella is reconciled with her natural mother, a working-class murderer, who brings her away from the Havisham curse and to Pip whom she marries following the death of his wife.  Pip is recruited as a lawyer by Jaggers, whose will create a Trust for the Relief and Education of the Poor.  Estella creates for herself a role promoting the Trust as an agency for the welfare of prostitutes, an interest stimulated by a close loving friendship with Nellie, a former whore in the navy town of Chatham in Kent.

Cover of Better Expectations by Professor Hugh SockettBetter Expectations explores Estella’s evolving life as a recent widow committed to the pursuit of philanthropic endeavours, specifically in confronting social problems such as prostitution in the years 1870-1874.

Her numerous friends come to see her as a fount of wisdom and good advice. Throughout the book Victorian strictures on sexual behavior crop up in terms of religious and social attitudes, and the legal prohibitions, punishments and obstacles in place. The book’s portrayal of powerful women leads to their persistent examination of the limits on their freedom and independence, on all of which Estella takes a tolerant and active view.

The third book of the Triology, Estella, The Star That Would Not Dim, will be released in November.

Both books are available on Amazon and Kindle.

More information can be found on https://www.hughsockett.com/


Sir Antony Acland: 12 March 1930 – 08 September 2021

Photo of Sir Antony AclandSir Antony Acland (1949), alumnus of Christ Church, passed away on 8th September 2021.

Sir Antony Acland, who has passed away aged 91, read PPE at Christ Church from 1949 to 1953. Having joined the Royal Artillery with a post-war 'emergency commission,' Acland began his career in the Foreign Office upon graduating, where he would remain for nearly 40 years. 

Acland's career included positions as the UK Mission to the UN and Head of the Diplomatic Service, and he served as the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, Spain, and the United States. Upon leaving the Foreign Office, Acland served as Provost of Eton College, between 1991-2000. In 2001 Acland helped to found the Rothermere American Institute, which aims to promote 'greater public and academic understanding of the history, culture and politics of the United States,' within Oxford and beyond. 

Acland was given the rare honour of appointment as a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 2001. He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer McGougan, and three children. 

Click here to read Sir Anthony's obituary in The Telegraph. Please note that this obituary is behind a paywall.


Other News

OXFIDOxford Forum for International Development

OxFID (Oxford Forum for International Development) is looking for professionals, organisations and interested individuals with experience and expertise in the field of International Development to collaborate with the 2022 committee in organising the 15th edition of their conference. Opportunities for engagement include sponsorship, the mentorship programme and speaking at the conference within our range of panels or keynote addresses.

OxFID are one of the largest student-run international development conferences in Europe. Past speakers have included UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Tawakkol Karman and Malala Yousafzai. The next edition of their conference will take place in February 2022, and is project to host more than 500 students from across the world. The conference theme  is “Aurora: redefining progress and navigating transition.” 

OxFID 2022 will take place in hybrid format to facilitate increased accessibility during the latter half of February.

For more information about the conference please contact: 

For queries about specific forms of engagement please contact: 


Picture of Kenneth BellKenneth Bell MBE: 3 May 1927 – 29 July 2021

Members of a certain age might remember the famous Restaurant Elizabeth, just opposite the House at 82, St Aldate’s. The original owner, the legendary Kenneth Bell, MBE, has died. He ran the restaurant from 1958 to 1966, when he sold it to his Head waiter, Antonio Lopez, who himself sold it in 2002, the year he died.
Members can find Bell's obituaries from the Guardian and the Telegraph. Please note that this obituary in Telegraph is behind a paywall.



Alumni Poetry

Glen Etive 
By Professor David Parker (1974)


 Solitude is not a lonely word, 

 When you breathe in slow motion,

 Not a whisper to be heard, 

 Where ancient mountains meet the ocean. 

 Splashes and ripples catch my eye, 

 Swimming home to spawn 

 The Atlantic bounty I espy 

 Return to create a new dawn.   


  The Shepherds’ crags guard this glen, 

  Ancient caldera scoured by ice, 

  Winter playground for fearless men, 

  Don’t let exposure load your dice. 


  Here I am healed, my greetings I send, 

  I found the path that has no end.