e-Matters 29th April 2021

Dear Members and Friends, welcome to another edition of e-Matters.

News from the House

Library Journal 2020-2021From the Library...

Volume 12, Issue 1 (2020-2021) of the Christ Church Library journal has just been published.
The latest issue consists of 48 pages of articles and studies on a wide range of topics, highlighting the depth and variety of very recent research conducted on the Christ Church collections.
For details about the latest issue and to access all issues of the journal,  please see:https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/library-and-archives/christ-church-library-newsletter

Photo of Rahel FondaDr Rahel Fronda, Hebrew Antiquarian Cataloguer of Christ Church Library, writes below about Eliezer ben Elijah Ashkenazi (1512-1585), a fascinating sixteenth century Jewish scholar.

Rahel is one of a number of people who have been working on cataloguing, conserving and digitising the Morris Collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts. The Library urgently requires funds to ensure the work may be completed on time, and to match generous grants from the Hanadiv and Polonsky Foundations.

"Ashkenazi’s most important work is his commentary on the historical parts of the Pentateuch, called Ma’ase ha-Shem (The Works of God), which he wrote for his son Elijah. The first edition of the book was printed by Giovanni di Gara in Venice; it has four parts: the creation story, the story of the patriarchs, the story of Egypt, including the Passover haggadah, and the following events. This is outlined on the title page of the editio princeps of the book which features an impressive architectural gate (because of the common use of the symbol of a gate in Hebrew books, the Hebrew word sha’ar, ‘gate’, later in modern Hebrew came to mean also ‘title page’). The date is presented as a biblical quote from the book of Malachi 3:23 ‘I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day’, whose numerical value adds up to 343, that corresponds to the Gregorian calendar year 1583."

Click here to read full article.

In her latest research post about important holdings in the Library Hebrew collection, Rahel discusses heaven and hell, and its significance in medieval Hebrew poetry, as well as unexplored haskalah literature.

"As the year 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the distinguished Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), it is only appropriate to ponder heaven and hell. Indeed, what is yet to come for us: is it going to be heaven or hell? This question is also relevant to Jewish self-perception. After all, the Hebrew Bible places the first man and woman in the garden of Eden, that became known as paradise - παράδεισος - through its Greek translation of the Septuagint; and later, due to their sins, Adam and Eve were expelled from that exotic garden. Several Jewish rabbinic authorities and scholars consider the central concept of paradise to be either terrestrial or celestial; on the other hand, what came to represent later, in rabbinic literature a destination of punishment of the wicked (hell, of sorts), was originally a mere small valley in Jerusalem, called gehenna in the Hebrew Bible."

Click here to read full article.

Christ Church students win sustainable investing challenge

Christ Church students win the Kellogg Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge 2021

Graduate students from the University of Oxford proposed financing to help beekeepers scale and expand practices which drives biodiversity conservation, securing the top prize in the 2021 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge.

A team of Christ Church students designed the BeeBank & Brokerage financial instrument to address Sustainable Impact Challenges for the Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Challenge.

The team’s strength lies in their interdisciplinary skillset, as they come from financial, agtech, public health, and sustainability practice backgrounds, with a shared interest in making the future more sustainable.

Click here to read full article.


Photo of Yun Kei ChowChrist Church student Yun Kei Chow wins prestigious international law prize

Yun Kei Chow, a second-year Law student at Christ Church, was on the winning team from Oxford that triumphed at this year’s prestigious International Roman Law Moot Court competition.

The Competition is held annually between eight European universities, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, the Universität Wien, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, the Université de Liège, the Universität Trier and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Hosted by the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, the 14th International Roman Law Moot Court was held online from 7th - 9th April 2021. This year the competition was set in the former Roman province of Raetia and centred around an expatriate horse breeder’s quarrels with the local population.

Click here to read full article.



Spring flowers in the MeadowSpring Flowers in Christ Church Meadow

John James, Head Gardener of Christ Church, writes about the flowers you can see in Christ Church Meadow during the lovely time of spring:

"Two of our most notable successes in re-introducing lost plant species in Christ Church Meadow have been the establishment of colonies of Cowslips (Primula veris) and Snake’s Head Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) in the lightly wooded and previously barren area to  the west of New Walk at the river end.

The Cowslips were re-introduced in a seed mix sown in the autumn of 2014 and they are now firmly established and spreading well with more and more coming up every year. Equally positive is the area of Cowslips that have established in the north-west corner of the main Meadow fields near the Broad Walk, which are also spreading well across the field."

Click here to continue reading John's blog.
Follow John on Instagram for the latest updates on the Meadow and College Gardens.


From Christ Church Cathedral Music Trust...

Elizabeth HarrisonThe Christ Church Cathedral Music Trust is pleased to report that one of our colleagues and Honorary Secretary of the Friends of the Cathedral, Elizabeth Harrison, was a recipient, this year, of Maundy coins from the Queen. This was a fitting tribute to Elizabeth's years of faithful service to the Cathedral. 

Congratulations to Elizabeth!










Steven Grahl directing a concert.Christ Church Music Connections

The Covid-19 Pandemic has had a devastating effect on the arts, and has seen musical alumni of the House struggling to find work, and suffering from the consequences of continuing uncertainty. In celebration of the talents of the Christ Church Community, we are setting up a webpage to enable musicians who studied at Christ Church to provide links to their own websites and other on-line resources. We hope to provide a means of making connections to provide enjoyment to those who look at the materials available on-line, and possibilities for artists to gather extra support. 

If you would like to feature on our Christ Church Musical Connections webpage then please email Micah Mackay (music.trust@chch.ox.ac.uk) with a short biography, any relevant links to your work, and any relevant images or video material. 


Women's 40th Online Celebrations

Photo of Joanna SmithThe fourth in our series of films featuring Christ Church Women is on The Honourable Mrs Justice Joanna Smith DBE who read Jurisprudence, and matriculated in 1986.

Joanna grew up in a family of medics and spent much of her childhood moving around, following her father’s work as an RAF Doctor. Before coming up to Christ Church, Joanna's passion was in theatre and she wanted to become an actress. During her time at the House, she was taught by Teddy Burn and John Cartwright; they both gave her the confidence to pursue her career as a barrister.

Called to the Bar in 1990, Joanna went on to specialise in professional negligence, commercial litigation and construction. She was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2009. Joanna qualified as a mediator and in recent years has sat as an arbitrator. She was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2017 and High Court Judge in 2020.

In the film, Joanna discusses how she climbed the legal career ladder in this male-oriented industry and describes her journey from Jurisprudence to Judge alongside her companions at the House.

If you enjoyed this film on Joanna Smith, don't forget you can find the series of films on the Christ Church website.


Women of the House, We Need You!

Ladies' Hockey 1986You will be aware that 2020 marked 40 years since women were admitted to study at Christ Church. As part of our celebrations, albeit postponed, we are creating a collage to showcase our alumnae and their experiences through the years; thank you to those of you who have contributed already. We want to hear from everyone, whether it is a reflection of how gender played a role in your time at Christ Church, or simply a memory of studying and living here. Please send us your anecdotes, recollections and photographs.

This is an important milestone for the House and we want to do it justice. Our collage will be displayed digitally and physically in September, added to the archives and, eventually, the history books. Whether you were in the first intake of women in 1980 or you graduated just this year, we want to hear from you!

Please send your submissions to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk, and note that by sending in photographs and writing, you consent to being featured in the collage. For GDPR reasons, anyone appearing in photographs you submit will also need to have consented to being featured. As a token of our thanks, we will send you a 40 Years of Women at the House commemorative pin badge. We look forward to hearing from you!

40th Anniversary Silk Scarves

A reminder that our limited-edition 40th Anniversary silk scarf (photo below) can be ordered through the new online shop. To visit the shop please click here. 

Mandy with scarf

Christ Church Virtual Tours – Alumni special offer

Screenshot of Virtual tourTake a trip down memory lane and return to Christ Church this Trinity Term from the comfort of your own home. Although restrictions continue to remain in place for onsite visits to the House, we are excited to offer you the opportunity to join us for one of our live guided tours of the College and Cathedral.

Our bespoke and immersive online experiences are an unparalleled opportunity to see all the most famous parts of Christ Church, hear about the history and current life of the institution, look at the beautiful buildings and interiors and meet some of the people who live and work here. You can also enjoy a live question and answer session with your guides at the end of the tour.

We have been trialling our virtual tours over the last few weeks and held a special version for Christ Church alumni as part of the University’s Meeting Minds Global event. If you attended this session we’d love to receive your feedback and possibly feature this on our website. Comments can be sent to helen.camunas-lopez@chch.ox.ac.uk.

A number of attendees expressed an interest in their friends and family watching one of our tours and we are pleased to let you know that we have now set a selection of dates for May and June. Full details of our range of Virtual Tours can be found on our website and bookings can also be made online (Events | Christ Church, Oxford University). Tickets start from £8 (plus a small booking fee), however, a special discount code has been set up for Christ Church alumni to use on tours taking place this term. To receive 20% off your virtual tour tickets, please enter the code Trinity20 in your cart.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch with Helen.   


Christ Church's Meeting Minds Global Week

Butcher's ShopThe Development Office held a series of online events during the University’s Meeting Minds Global week from 12th to 17th April. Many of our Members and Friends participated in the events across the globe and we have been receiving positive responses. Thank you so much for joining us in the virtual events!

In case you missed our events, or if you would like to catch up on what happened during the week, click on the links below to revisit the Lay Clerks of the Cathedral Choir Concert and the talk in the Library.

The Lay Clerks of the Cathedral Choir Concert

Treasures of Christ Church Library: New Research on Old Collections

Live Q&A Session with Dr Cristina Neagu, Keeper of Special Collections and Ms Gabriel Sewell, new College Librarian

Emily's Wine Blog

Wine Collections
Photo of Emily RobothamIt was lovely to open a few wines with some of you last week for the Meeting Minds Global Christ Church wine tasting. A few people have asked me subsequently if the cellars are open to alumni who fancy buying a bottle (or a case) of wine from the House. They certainly are if you are passing through Oxford; we cannot currently ship. If you do find yourself in the vicinity, then you can find our current releases here: https://chchwinecellar.creventa.app/menu, and can choose a collection time and date to collect from the Porters Lodge. If you are after something specific and don't see it on the menu, do drop me a line at bars@chch.ox.ac.uk and I'll see what we can do.

For those of you who could not join us for the tasting on Friday, we had:
Cremant de Bourgogne NV, Cave de Lugny: traditional method sparkling wine from Burgundy, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay from vines averaging 30-35 years of age.
Laurus Viognier, Gabriel Meffre 2018: Languedoc Viognier from a traditional Rhône producer with ripe, plush flavours yet still a lot of freshness and zing. Perfect Spring wine.
Chateau Greysac, cru Bourgeois 2009: lovely mature Claret with a harmony of flavours and structure. What a treat to drink this wine in its prime at twelve years old!

I hope you all have something tasty open this weekend.


OX1 Demo Day

Banner of OX1 Demo DayOX1 is Oxford's only start-up incubator focused on ideation and supporting students via equity-free grants. 

This year, OX1 is run by three Members of the House: Jack Chong, ‘19, PPE; Ethan Andrews, ‘19, English Language and Literature; Ollie Branston, ‘19, PPL. 

OX1 guides students from problem-spotting and building prototypes with workshops and mentorship. Since 2018, OX1 has awarded £50,000+ in equity-free grants and worked with 80+ student founders. They are an integral part of the start-up ecosystem in Oxford, working with a diverse community of undergraduate, Masters, DPhil, and MBA students.

The OX1 2021 Demo Day is happening on the 3rd of May. This year, 7 teams will pitch to a panel of investors who are also Oxford alumni. The panel will decide the winners who will receive £20,000+ in grants. At the end, there will be a networking session with judges, guests, and start-up teams.

Christ Church and alumni have been generous supporters of OX1 Incubator. On the 3rd of May, judges will award the S.S. Chang Memorial Prize and The Byrne Award for Entrepreneurship sponsored by the Rutland Foundation and Christ Church. 

The judging panel includes Patrick Chung, founder of Xfund ($120M+ seed fund based in Harvard), Mathias Pastor (Director at the Family, Europe's YC), and Oxford Angel Fund. 

Sign up here via Hopin.


News from Alumni

Photo of Kate BinghamKate Bingham's Interview in Financial Times

In this in-depth interview with the Financial Times, Kate Bingham (1983), discusses her time working as Former Head of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, during which she ‘calls AstraZeneca “heroes” for the way the UK-Swedish company picked up an experimental vaccine invented at Oxford university and — with help from the VTF — worked out how to test, manufacture and distribute it at low cost around the world.'

Click here to read Kate's full interview article in the Financial Times. (Please note that this is subscribers-only content.)


Professor Alf Coles (1989)

Photo of Professor Alf ColesCongratulations to Professor Alf Coles (1989), who was promoted to Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Bristol earlier this year.

A thread through Alf’s research has been a focus on teacher development and learning. His work has been in three overlapping phases. Initially, while working in a secondary school in Bristol, Alf helped to establish and research an innovative mathematics curriculum which focused on developing skills of mathematical thinking and emphasised possibilities for student creativity within the subject. His doctoral research investigated the development of cultures of learning, both in the classroom and across the group of mathematics teachers in the department. This research included findings related to the effective use of video with teachers, work for which Alf is well known internationally.
A second phase of work developed out of Alf’s research with primary teachers, looking again, initially, at creativity and mathematics. His work led to involvement with the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics. Alf was educational consultant on a series of Professional Development materials for teachers, materials which are now widely used in primary schools across England. His research has pointed to ways in which teachers can provoke engagement by setting up tasks and environments in which actions and relations can be symbolised mathematically. 
The third and most recent strand of work has involved the linking the mathematics curriculum to current global precarity, notably around climate change. Alf is leading a network of scholars across five continents, exploring curriculum innovation in schools and higher education institutions. One project is currently supporting the teachers in schools in a marginalised community in Mexico, which takes its water from a highly polluted river. Alf’s view is that the future is not what it was and the mathematics curriculum needs to catch up.
Alf is currently Deputy Head of School, at the School of Education. He will be giving an inaugural lecture via Zoom on 16th June at 5pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. Click here to register for the lecture.



Photo of Jasper Reid

Jasper Reid: Update on India's Covid Crisis

Members and Friends may remember Jaspar Reid’s (1991) previous articles for e-Matters. Back in September, he wrote a piece about India Coronavirus Campaign update.

We spotted this article about Indian black market oxygen in the Evening Standard written by Jasper earlier in the week.




Thomas Urquhart: Up for Grabs! Timber Pirates, Lumber Barons, and the Battles Over Maine's Public Lands

Photo of Thomas UrquhartFormer Maine Audubon director Thomas Urquhart (1964) will be publishing his latest book "Up for Grabs: Timber Pirates, Lumber Barons, and the Battles Over Maine's Public Lands".

Book cover of Up For GrabsEach year thousands of men and women and families recreate on Maine's Public Reserved Lands. Most of these visitors know only that the large green areas on the map promise them access to some of the state's most magnificent places. Very few have any idea how Maine acquired them. Or that, as a conservation success, their acquisition (600,000 acres) rivals the celebrated purchase and gift to Maine people of Baxter State Park (210,000 acres) by Governor Percival Baxter. Maine's two hundredth anniversary is an appropriate moment to celebrate the largest land conservation triumph in its history. The story of the state's Public Reserved Lands and how we got them speak to the very essence of Maine's identity.

Up for Grabs tells the story of Maine’s Public Reserved Lands from colonial times to statehood in 1820 to the present. (It is one of the Maine Historical Society’s Bicentennial publications.) With dramatic moments and colourful characters, it provides an engaging and informative history of Maine’s wildlands from exploitation to conservation and sustainable use.

Up for Grabs will be released in June 2021 in USA and August 2021 in the UK. Click here to pre-order Up for Grabs.

Gerald Lees: The Negotiator

Photo of Gerald LeesBook cover of The NegotiatorGerald Lees (1971) introduces The Negotiator, which he has translated and is recently published:
"Few people reading languages under the guidance of AJ Krailsheimer will have escaped the French Wars of Religion! In 1958, a Belgian soldier and diplomat called Francis Walder chose that period, and specifically the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1570, as the context for his “portrait of the negotiator”. A curious work, at once historical novel and a masterclass in negotiation, it won the Prix Goncourt. Not bad for a first novel!
I came across this book forty years ago, and was charmed by its atmosphere, the gentle wit, and the insight into the minds and manoeuvres of the negotiators. Finally, in retirement and lockdown, I set about the long-intended translation (though rather late for Brexit, I’m afraid). I’m pleased that this classic work on negotiation is once again, for the first time in sixty years, available in English.
How could I have taken so long to get it done? It’s a slim volume, and comparing it to the achievement of translating Rabelais, Pascal and Flaubert, I marvel at AJK’s productivity!"
“The Negotiator: a masterclass in Negotiation” by Francis Walder is available from unicornpublishing.org, Amazon, and bookshop.org.


Jason Waite: Don't Follow the Wind

Photo of Jason WaiteBook cover of Don't Follow the WindCongratulations to Jason Waite (2016), co-editor of the recently published book Don’t Follow the Wind.

On the 10th anniversary of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, the book Don't Follow the Wind co-edited by Jason Waite, DPhil in Contemporary Art Theory & History, was released. Waite is part of the eponymous collective of artists and curators working with residents displaced by the disaster that has commissioned and continued to care for twelve new artworks by contemporary artists such as Meiro Koizumi, Ai Weiwei, and Trevor Paglen, installed in the former homes of the residents inside the closed radioactive zone surrounding the power station. The project takes the form of an art exhibition which is “open” but inaccessible as the zone is closed to the public. The artworks function as a mnemonic of the durational disaster. The unique challenges of maintaining an exhibition inside an uninhabited radioactive area have led to the collective and former residents developing new modes of understanding how art can confront a crisis and work to build translocal durational relations.

The book functions as a placeholder for the ongoing exhibition with contributions by all of the artists Ai Weiwei, Chim↑Pom, Nikolaus Hirsch & Jorge Otero-Pailos, Meiro Koizumi, Eva & Franco Mattes, Grand Guignol Mirai, Aiko Miyanaga, Ahmet Öğüt, Trevor Paglen, Taryn Simon, Nobuaki Takekawa, and Kota Takeuchi. The volume includes new texts by feminist theorist Silvia Federici, art historians Noi Sawaragi and Sven Lütticken, and political philosopher Jodi Dean that address the question: What can art do in a continuing catastrophe when destruction and contamination have made living impossible?

Click here to order Don't Follow the Wind.


Anthony Thwaite OBE: 23 June 1930 – 22 April 2021

Photo of Anthony Thwaite OBEIt is with great sadness that we announce the death of Anthony Thwaite OBE (1953).

Anthony Thwaite, who has died aged 90, was a ‘mover and shaker in postwar English literary life’. Anthony read English at the House and came to early prominence as a poet. During his time at the House, he published a pamphlet with the Fantasy Press in a series that included the early work of Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jennings.

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Home Truths (1957); The Owl in the Tree (1963); The Stones of Emptiness: Poems 1963–66 (1967), which won a Richard Hillary Prize; New Confessions (1974); Letter from Tokyo (1987); Poems 1953–1988 (1989); Selected Poems 1956–1996 (1997); and Collected Poems (2008).

Anthony was the literary editor of the Listener and the New Statesman, and co-editor of Encounter. He worked as a producer at the BBC, and was a prolific author, reviewer and lecturer, travelling across the world for the British Council. In 1990 he was awarded an OBE for services to poetry.

Click here to read Anthony Thwaite’s obituary in the Guardian.


Other News


Photo of Prince LeopoldPrince Leopold, Duke of Albany: the sickly fourth son of Victoria and Albert

Prince Leopold, alumnus of Christ Church, was portrayed in Netflix's new series The Irregulars.

Leopold CupLeopold George Duncan Albert was the youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Born on the 7th of April, 1853 at Buckingham Palace, London, his birth brought about the sanction to use anesthesia in childbirth by the Queen, who herself used the recently developed chloroform during labor. Prince Leopold was named after King Leopold I of Belgium.

Prince Leopold was a student at Christ Church in the 1870's, where he studied a variety of subjects. During his Oxford days, Prince Leopold was initiated in the Apollo University Lodge and became an active Freemason. Prince Leopold’s interests in intellectual reasoning kindled his love for chess, and he soon rose to become the President of the Oxford University Chess Club, as well as being an important member of the Loder’s Club.

Click here to read Jim Godfrey's article on Prince Leopold on the Christ Church website.

Read more about Prince Leopold in Salon Prive Magazine and History Extra.



Christchurch Cathedral, New ZealandChrist Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project

The Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, an iconic heritage building located in the heart of Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, was severely damaged by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

The Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project Team is reinstating the Cathedral using a combination of repair, restoration, reconstruction/rebuild and seismic strengthening.

Click here to read their Easter newsletter and find out the latest updates on the project.


Alumni Poetry

The Bonfire
By Anthony Thwaite (1953)

Day by day, day after day, we fed it
With straw, mown grass, shavings, shaken weeds,
The huge flat leaves of umbrella plants, old spoil
Left by the builders, combustible; yet it
Coughed fitfully at the touch of a match,
Flared briefly, spat flame through a few dry seeds
Like a chain of fireworks, then slumped back to the soil
Smouldering and smoky, leaving us to watch

Only a heavy grey mantle without fire.
This glum construction seemed choked at heart,
The coils of newspaper burrowed into its hulk
Led our small flames into the middle of nowhere,
Never touching its centre, sodden with rot.
Ritual petrol sprinklings wouldn’t make it start
But swerved and vanished over its squat brown bulk,
Still heavily sullen, grimly determined not

To do away with itself. A whiff of smoke
Hung over it as over a volcano.
Until one night, late, when we heard outside
A crackling roar, and saw the far field look
Like a Gehenna claiming its due dead.
The beacon beckoned, fierily aglow
With days of waiting, hiding deep inside
Its bided time, ravenous to be fed.


Alumni Photography

We encourage all alumni and friends to submit photographs to us inspired by the poems featured on our Alumni Poetry Page. Poems and photographs will be collected together in the coming months and will eventually form an online exhibition celebrating alumni creative work. 

To submit your photograph please: