e-Matters June 12th 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

Welcome to another lock-down e-Matters. Wherever you are we trust you are safe and well, and are enjoying reading the news we send you.
In the light of recent events, and correspondence we have received, we wanted to address your concerns head on, so we start this edition with a statement from the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson, and Junior Censor, Professor Dirk Aarts:

New Partnership for Christ Church on Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Last week, Christ Church unequivocally condemned deeply offensive remarks made at a recent JCR hustings. In the following days, a great deal of anger and hurt emerged, reactions that mirrored those of so many throughout the country, and around the world, in response to the appalling death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Through our Equality and Diversity Committee, we undertook to engage an external organisation with appropriate expertise to help us start a conversation that will lead not just to words, but also to actions. We are now working with Femi Otitoju, the founder of Challenge Consultancy, to develop a series of listening events in the coming weeks for all students, as well as all staff, both academic and non-academic. 
These sessions will help us reflect respectfully, openly and honestly, and will help us find new ways to talk about race, to listen and learn, and to identify positive steps we can take to address issues around racial equality, diversity, and inclusion. We will then develop a long-term action plan with the aim of making Christ Church a leader within Oxford on this all-important front. 
Finally, for those of you who have written to us individually about these matters, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We have read your messages and will respond to you individually as soon as we can, but ask for your patience while we concentrate on supporting our students in the final weeks of term.

There is further news from the House below, as well as news on the 40th Anniversary of Women joining Christ Church, the opening of the Christ Church On-line shop, and a number of articles by alumni, including a fascinating report from Japan.
Please feel free to join us by following us on social media, posting your own pictures (#ChristChurchTogether), and thus helping us all stay connected at this challenging time. And do send us any news that we might share with everyone, whether to educate, help, or entertain!

With best wishes,
Mark Coote and the Development Team

Archive News from the House: June 12th 2020

New Partnership for Christ Church on Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Last week, Christ Church unequivocally condemned deeply offensive remarks made at a recent JCR hustings. In the following days, a great deal of anger and hurt emerged, reactions that mirrored those of so many throughout the country, and around the world, in response to the appalling death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Through our Equality and Diversity Committee, we undertook to engage an external organisation with appropriate expertise to help us start a conversation that will lead not just to words, but also to actions. We are now working with Femi Otitoju, the founder of Challenge Consultancy, to develop a series of listening events in the coming weeks for all students, as well as all staff, both academic and non-academic. 
These sessions will help us reflect respectfully, openly and honestly, and will help us find new ways to talk about race, to listen and learn, and to identify positive steps we can take to address issues around racial equality, diversity, and inclusion. We will then develop a long-term action plan with the aim of making Christ Church a leader within Oxford on this all-important front. 
Finally, for those of you who have written to us individually about these matters, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We have read your messages and will respond to you individually as soon as we can, but ask for your patience while we concentrate on supporting our students in the final weeks of term.

College Life During Lockdown

Blue Boar self-isolating familyIn the sixth instalment of our College Life Blog on life during lockdown, we hear from first-year PPE student Simon Becke, who is one of a small number of students who have stayed in residence at Christ Church throughout the pandemic.

We are also happy to report that in the all-college exercise competition against Trinity, our sister college in Cambridge, the combined forces of Christ Church’s JCR, GCR, SCR and Staff emerged triumphant.

GCR President Oliver Karnbach rallied the troops who each averaged 4 hr 39 min of exercise in the first week of June as compared to 4 hr 24 min for our counterparts at Trinity. Hopefully this bodes well for the next Sports Exchange we will be able to organise with Trinity once we are back to more-or-less normal times.


From the Library...

The Librarian, Steven ArcherGetting a seat in the Library in Trinity Term in normal times would be almost an impossibility.  But these are not normal times in which we find ourselves, the Library doors have been closed since mid-March and our students have been working and revising from home leaving empty chairs at empty tables.

Books packaged and ready to mail out.The Library team have also been working hard from home trying to ensure that students and tutors have had access to the resources they need.  We have been ordering new copies of books for delivery direct to students’ homes (over 400 so far), purchasing new e-books through the Bodleian, or delivering Kindle books to students.  We have been making use of the National Emergency Library’s bank of scanned texts, and for things not yet available online we have been writing directly to authors to try to obtain copies of chapters or journal articles.  The College Librarian has been able to visit the Library 1-2 times a week to make essential security and conservation checks on the buildings and collections, and at the same time has been parcelling up books to post out to students, with nearly 100 boxes sent out this term.  

We have also been scanning chapters for email delivery, and have participated in an inter-collegiate scanning programme to share the resources we have with our college colleagues.  It has required a lot of changes in our working practices, but from the positive feedback we have received, it seems that even in lockdown, the Library has still managed to be at the heart of the academic life of Christ Church.


Hebrew Treasures from the Christ Church Library

Keeper of Special Collections, Cristina Neagu, and a Hebrew scroll form the collectionsDespite the Library being closed during the lockdown, research on Special Collections is in full swing, and we are more determined than ever to continue creating online tools allowing remote access to the treasures this institution houses.
Among the many things accomplished recently is the digitisation of the Hebrew manuscripts collection. All codices and rolls are now available online, and a copy of high resolution images was sent to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. As the next step, we have now embarked on digitising all incunables and unique holdings in the Hebrew collections. Work on the cataloguing of the early printed books continues despite the current difficulties. Detailed records and digitised documents from the collections become available on SOLO, the Oxford University Libraries’ union catalogue and Christ Church Digital Library, as soon as they are created. Dr Rahel Fronda continues to be in charge of both the online catalogue of Hebrew early printed books and of the catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts collection.
We are all deeply grateful to the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe and The Polonsky Foundation. Their support of the Hebrew project at Christ Church has made everything possible. For the latest updates regarding Dr Fonda's work, please click here.

Dr Cristina Neagu
Keeper of Special Collections


Dr Becky SmethurstDr Rebecca Smethurst Awarded the Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship for 2020

We were pleased to hear that Junior Research Fellow, Dr Rebecca Smethurst, has been awarded the Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship for 2020 by the William Herschel Society with the RAS.

More information on the award can be found by clicking here.

Congratulations to Becky from everyone at the House!





Research: Professor Judith Pallot, Emeritus Student in Geography

In 2019, Christ Church approved a programme of grants to support the research of Governing Body members and emeriti. These grants are quite modest, but they are proving to be invaluable for senior members who need funding to finish a project, to pilot a new idea or to organise research focused workshops.  Fortunately, this scheme which reflects the college’s commitment to the University’s mission to keep Oxford a global leader in  research, is available for its emeriti. I have been one of the early beneficiaries, receiving a grant to revise and extend a mapping project I began a decade ago using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map the data that I had collected for a large ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) project.
I should explain that my longstanding research interest has been on the USSR and the post-Soviet successor states.  For the past decade, I have focused on the historical-geography of the Russian prison system. My first large-scale project involved collaborating with the Russian Prison Service but, unfortunately, the collaboration quickly “went south” when the Russian side withdrew from it and revoked my visa status.  
I filled the pause this caused in my research whilst I reconfigured the project, to create an on-line historical atlas of the Russian prison system.  To help with the project, I recruited a Russian graduate student, Sofya Gavrilova, who had just completed her degree at Moscow State University in what was still then a newly developing field of GIS (geographical information systems).  Sofya subsequently applied to Christ Church to read for a doctorate, which she successfully defended last year. Together, we created numerous original maps of the Soviet GULAG and of the current Russian prison system, at spatial scales from the national to local. The results can be seen on our website www.gulagmaps.org. This project was more than a “mere” technical exercise: the application of the spatial analysis to the historical data about the Gulag and more broadly  to the Soviet repressions, allowed us to advance knowledge about the spatial and temporal aspects of the system of the forced labour. The new questions the visualisation of prison data raised has been important in my subsequent successful applications for research funding, including my current European Research Council Advance Grant investigating, among other things,  ethnic relations and political radicalisation  in communist and post-communist prisons.
The project that the Christ Church research fund is supporting is designed to update the maps from a decade ago and to develop new maps using data which has become available. The grant has again allowed me to draw on the expertise of Sofya Gavrilova to bridge my historical expertise and the GIS. The challenges of creating data bases and finding the geographical coordinates for examining the relationship between the different variables in which we are interested, is a very time-consuming task. This is always the case in historical-geographical GIS analysis.  Alas, the data gathering we had planned has been in suspension since the beginning of March thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have not remained idle. We have been spending our time thinking of the ways that GIS might be used to visualise the spatio-temporal spread of the pandemic.  
Graphic - COVID-19 Responses in Prison Systems Around the WorldFrom the beginning of the pandemic, prisons have been identified as potential epicentres of the disease and for very good reason; like care homes, they contain high concentrations of vulnerable populations living in close proximity to one another. In jurisdictions where prisoner numbers are high, as in the USA, Brazil, the Russian Federation, UK and East Central Europe,  prisoners have historically been a significant vectors for the spread of infectious diseases – older members might remember the fears after the USSR’s collapse of the spread of MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant tuberculosis) and other infectious diseases from Russian prisons into Europe.  How the Covid-19 epidemic is managed in prisons inevitably will affect the spread of the disease in society at large anywhere in the world.  It also raises difficult questions about the health and welfare of prisoners, their human rights and the maintenance of order among what are often volatile populations.
It will be a long time before we have the data that will allow us to look in detail at the role of prisons in the pandemic spread but, in the meantime, we thought it would be interesting to map the measures put in place in different countries that have been adopted to prevent prisons becoming epicentres of the disease.  In most countries a combination of two approaches to containing the virus in prisons have been followed. These are first, measures to reduce the flow of people from outside into prisons which are designed to keep the virus out  and secondly, measures aimed at reducing the size of prisoner populations so physical distance between prisoners can be maintained to control the virus’s spread, if it does get in.  On small scale maps the severity of lock down measures and the precise techniques of distancing prisoners from another cannot be shown, but still it is interesting to see how the broader approaches have been applied at a global scale.

In all jurisdictions, there is a difficult balance to be struck between public safety and prisoners’ rights to life. In Russia, for example, the prohibition on entry of outsiders to facilities in some of its regions has been absolute, applying not just to the relatives of the inmates, but also to defence lawyers and human rights monitors.  In contrast, in the UK lock down has been less severe and arrangements have been put in place for safe, at-a-distance, visits to prisoners. Meanwhile, discussions that have surfaced in the discussions in the press about using alternatives to incarceration to reduce overcrowding in prisons, which can include not detaining suspects on remand, delaying sentences and, most controversially, releasing prisoners, have raised question about public safety.  To date, just 18 countries have temporarily released prisoners and another five announced that they are considering doing so. Graphic - Prison riots and protests around the world (10 March-15 April 2020)Despite overcrowding  being a problem in its remand prisons, Russia continues to resist pressure from human rights activists to release at risk groups. In the UK 55 prisoners had been released by mid-May against a predicted 4000 considered be eligible at the beginning of the crisis.  We have been monitoring a host of other aspect of the management of the virus in prisoners across the post-communist sphere but are not yet in a position to map; these include the provision of testing and tracing, the quality of medical care of prisoners who test positive for the virus, and access to PPE for personnel and prisoners alike.

Whilst analysis of how different prison systems have performed in containing the virus will have to wait until relevant data become available, some consequences of how the pandemic is being managed are already apparent.  In another map, we show the disturbances in prisons across the globe since the beginning of the pandemic. In many cases, the disturbances reflect pre-existing complaints about detention conditions, which have finally boiled over by the emergency measures introduced  to contain the pandemic. Among the issues COVID-19 has thrown into relief is the state of the world’s prisons and the dangers associated with ignoring the rights of people held behind bars.

Click the small map graphics to view larger versions.


Careers Events Report

Photograph of Tony HartMembers will be pleased to hear that despite the lockdown the ChCh Association has succeeded in giving careers advice to the junior members across a number of fields. Special thanks are due to Tony Hart (1973), who worked with the JCR Careers Rep, Ségolène McKinnon, to lay on three sessions with old members, and one Q&A with our rep at the University Careers Service, Damilola Odimayo, who also happens to be an old member (1996).
We also owe a huge thank you to the old members who gave up their time to discuss careers in the Public Sector & Charities, the Civil Service, and Law. Everyone agreed that the Zoom sessions were a surprisingly successful and efficient way of holding the events. But we did miss the face to face contact, dinner in Hall, and wine!
In addition to the on-line careers sessions we thank all those who have offered remote internships, and specific advice to individuals. For example, Rod Dowler, (1962, Physics), who heads the Industry Forum, a small non-profit London business think tank, is offering junior members the chance to work on some research projects.
The Development & Alumni office are pleased to hear from all alumni who can offer careers advice to the current students, or indeed are happy to help old members too.


40 Years of Women Celebrations

 To celebrate 40 years of women at the House we have launched three exciting online initiatives:

1. An Alumnae Book Club: We are running a series of virtual book discussions.  Becky Walsh (Quintavalle) (1992) has kindly agreed to lead on one more book, Adam Bede by George Eliot, which should make for an excellent discussion.

The Book Club is easy to join, and you still have time:

  1.  Please email your intention to read the book by the 12th July to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk and we will send you a Zoom link to join in the discussion.
  2.  The Zoom discussion, this time led by Becky, will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15th July.
  3. Aileen Thomson will lead on Zadie Smith's On Beauty on Wednesday 12th August at 7.30pm for the Zoom chat.
  4.  You will need to have Zoom version 5 on your computer or phone.

If you would like to suggest the next book and lead that discussion, please also email the office.

2. Alumnae Poetry Competition:

We are currently running an Alumnae Poetry Competition. To enter please send your poems to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk
There is a poetry prompt further down this page to help spark the imagination.


1.    The competition is open to all members of the House who identify as women.
2.    Entries must not be longer than 2 x sides of A4.
3.    Entries must be received by the development and alumni office by 12 noon on the 24th July; marking 495 years since Cardinal Wolsey began building on the site of St Frideswide’s.
4.    The judges’ decisions will be made public at the September event, and a pamphlet of the best poems will be produced for the event.
5.    There will be a first prize of a two night stay for two in the best guest room in Christ Church, including full board and lodging.

3. Alumnae Interview Series: We will be releasing a series of interview with women. These will be released monthly. Our first interview will be with Professor Judith Pallot, the first female member of Governing Body.


Silk scarf with Christ Church crest and Cardinal's Hat design40th Anniversary Silk Scarves

Lodge Manager, Mandy Roche modelling the scarfOxfordshire-based Joshua Hale, artist and designer, graduated from the London College of Fashion. He works as a designer for Emma Bridgewater, the British ceramics manufacturer, and has undertaken a number of private commissions in artwork and interior design.

The Cardinal’s Hat, designed and drawn by Joshua to celebrate 40 years of women at Christ Church, is a limited edition silk scarf produced by the leading British Silk Bureau. The inspiration, hand-painted using gouache, comes from the iconic Cardinal’s hat, a recognised moniker of Thomas Wolsey, that adorns the House’s coat of arms. The richly bright red cords and tassels, usually represented in a static form, are given a new lease of life in this representation; they’re fuller, burgeoning, more vivid and on the move. The colours capture the college’s emblematic arms and the natural qualities of silk makes for a striking and lustrous impact.

The scarf can be purchased through the online shop. Further details can be found below.




Christ Church's New Online Shop!

The Thatched Barn, housing the shopThe old shop has been moved from the cloisters to the wonderful Thatched Barn building, thus freeing up the magnificent Chapter House for other uses. The new shop opened at the end of 2019, but for obvious reasons had to close on account of COVID-19. However now members may buy on-line, and the shop itself will reopen next week.

You can virtually visit our shop by clicking here. 

 You will find, amongst other things, the Women’s 40th Anniversary silk scarf, and the House’s own Jabberwocky gin! If you are interested in finding out more about the Thatched Barn building you may enjoy this article.


Wine Blog: Emily Robotham

Buttery Manager, Emily Robotham, with a bottle of Jabberwocky GinBordeaux 2019 – time to buy?
It’s increasingly rare to associate Bordeaux with good value, but this year it really might be true. For the past few years, Bordeaux release season has been the same story: delight at how the wines are tasting after rumours of a difficult vintage, followed by a sharp intake of breath at the steep price of bottles. 2018 Bordeaux was particularly startling: for a vintage that only got modest reviews by the standards of Bordeaux (they are always glowing), prices hit the bar of previous outstanding vintages: sometimes it felt more sensible to ask merchants how much 2005 they had left. However, fine Claret is usually a safe bet for investment: whatever you paid on release is pretty usually the best price you’ll ever see. 2018 Bordeaux was eye-wateringly expensive, but for the collector that’s pretty much par for the course. 2019 is a different matter entirely.

With coronavirus causing massive disruption to tasting, it’s harder than usual to get a grasp on the vintage. Even under normal circumstances, it’s hard to maintain a respectful distance over a spittoon. But major critics’ scores have been favourable. It wasn’t a bumper crop in 2019, but the year was kind to top appellations, especially Pomerol, Margaux and Pauillac.

That doesn’t wholly account for the significant reductions on the release prices for the top houses. The big news is Mouton Rothschild releasing at 30% lower than last year, the last in a flurry of top releases at surprising value. While prices can still be wallet-searing, the excitement of investors was enough to crash the website of fine wine investment analysts Liv-ex this morning.

Wines to look out for:
Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac 2019
Château Cheval Blanc, St Emilion 2019 (also down 30% on last year’s release)
Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien 2019 (tastes amazing)
Château Beychevelle, St Julien 2019 (currently best value vintage on the market, but volumes are much lower in usual, making this likely to rise in value)


Professor Philip Rush: Japan and COVID-19

Professor Philip Rush in front of Mt FujiHow is Japan Getting Away with it?
Living in Japan during this pandemic is rather like living inside one of Japan’s famous computer simulations. To watch the news, it seems that Japan is being decimated by this fearful enemy; but looking at the figures, what is one to think?

(to June 6th) Japan: (twice the population of the UK) – 17,103 cases, 914 deaths. The U.K.: 284,868 cases; 40,465 deaths.
Although I am fortunate to live in what counts in Japan as ‘countryside’ (we can see fewer than 30 houses from our front step) I reside in a prefecture, Aichi, with a population larger than many European countries crammed into an area smaller than Devon. By necessity, we live and move shoulder to shoulder. Personal space is at a premium. Coronavirus seems to relish crowds; so how do we get off so lightly?
Several possibilities come to mind. Japan is a very clean country, civically and socially. Streets and public places are cleaned regularly and with great care. Even before the pandemic, hand sanitizer was often to be found at many entrances, home and work. People bathe and scrub here daily. Personal hygiene is paramount. Although handshakes are becoming more common, bows are the norm. We are not a nation of ‘touchers’. And most tellingly, I believe, Japan has a mask culture.
Japanese citizens wearing face masksAs a European, I can understand an aversion to masks. Our face is us; a covered face has something to hide. Here, all through the cold and allergy seasons, wearing a mask while outside is the norm. It is consideration for others – neither to give nor receive germs. It is often said in Japan that “the nail that sticks out must be hammered down”. Personal desires must be suppressed for the common good. With such a cultural mindset it has been relatively easy to persuade the Japanese public to cooperate with protective measures. The Japanese Constitution, a legacy of the post-war Occupation, does not allow the government to impose sweeping controls over its population. A compulsory lockdown as seen in several European countries is not an option here. The government can only advise and recommend. As soon as a potential health emergency was identified in February this year, they attempted to deal with it. Travel restrictions were imposed; schools closed from March 2nd (they are just now re-opening). The “Three Cs” rule was announced: avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings. Certain areas like Tokyo were considered high-risk, and companies were requested to send employees home. My sons are just now returning to their respective offices after 9 weeks of teleworking. My university is fully staffed with administrators and cleaners, but few teaching staff and no students. All classes are online.
With cases dropping, we are slowly returning to a semblance of normality. Restaurants have re-opened, workers returning. Still, people here are not dropping their guard, and the government is planning for the next waves. Has Japan got something to teach the world about handling a pandemic? Maybe. I just feel grateful to be here and comparatively safe.


Best Loved Englishman in Bulgaria by Simon Kusseff

June 10th 2020 marked the anniversary of Major Thompson’s death. Here we share with you a special article by his official biographer Simon Kusseff (1967), as well as Major Thompson’s poem Polliciti Meliora.
Two photographs of Major Frank ThompsonJune 10th 2020, is the 76th anniversary of the execution of 23-year-old soldier-poet Major Frank Thompson at Litakovo, Bulgaria, along with Bulgarian Partisans from the 2nd Sofia Brigade. Major Thompson was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to pull Bulgaria out of its Axis alliance with Hitler’s Germany and cut off the German forces in Greece.

Major Thompson became a Bulgarophile as a boy.  At his school, Winchester College, he wrote an essay about Apollo’s seasonal migration to Hyperborea, Thracia, Bulgaria, the land of Orpheus. There, he also read Shaw’s “Arms and the Man”, about the Bulgarian victory at Slivnitsa in 1885 under Alexander Battenberg. He had read that his great grandfather, Henry Jessup, an American Missionary in Beirut had taken the Orient Express to Varna for his third honeymoon in 1884.

In 1941, Frank Thompson told his family, it was his dearest wish to be “the best loved Englishman in Bulgaria”; that he was going to make Slavdom his life’s study, perhaps becoming a Historian of the Slavonic Peoples and might start a one-man rose farm in Bulgaria. Like his mentor, Sir Bernard Pares, Director of the School of Slavonic Studies in London, Thompson wanted to achieve a closer understanding and cooperation between the Slav peoples and Great Britain.

To that end, as a Philologist who could read 9 European languages, he intended to do a lot of translation and, at his death, a copy of his translation of a Yovkov short story was found in his rucksack.

Thompson’s father lamented there were so few Brits who knew Slavonic languages, so few could get to the heart of an alien people- his loss was incalculable. One of Thompson’s school friends wrote: “Frank added life wherever he was, he was one of England’s greatest losses in the war and would have been good to have had around after the end of it”. And one of his army friends, who later became British Ambassador to Poland, wrote of Frank: “Not one of the hundreds of officers I’ve served with, aroused such love and affection in his fellows, as everything he did was good humoured and gay. Laughter followed him as closely as his shadow.”

Thompson wrote his vision before going to Bulgaria: “Think only of the Balkans and the beauty, gaiety and courage their peoples have preserved through the last 600 years, which have brought them little but poverty, oppression and fratricide. What a splendid Europe we shall build, when all the vitality and talent of its indomitable peoples can be set free for cooperation and creation”.

To mark the anniversary of his death, we publish a Bulgarian translation of his great poem, Polliciti Meliora, written in 1940, which speaks of the sacrifices of the young men who would be killed in the war and their hopes for a better world afterwards:
As one who, gazing at a vista
Of beauty, sees the clouds close in,
And turns his back in sorrow, hearing
The thunderclouds begin.
So we, whose life was all before us,
Our hearts with sunlight filled,
Left in the hills our books and flowers,
Descended, and were killed.

Write on the stones no words of sadness –
Only the gladness due,
That we, who asked the most of living,
Knew how to give it too.
Frank Thompson
*Latin. “Having promised better things”

Niccolo Pescetelli: The Collective Creative Mind

Photograph of Niccolo PescetelliAlumnus Niccolo Pescetelli was a Clarendon Scholar at Christ Church from 2013 to 2016. With a partner he has recently created an event called Collective Creative Mind. It is an artistic experiment that explores how online interaction during global social distancing fosters collective creativity.

They were supposed to hold the experiment at the Tate Modern in London. However, because of Covid-19 they had to move everything online; with the artists working from their home studios and the collective crowd creating together online. But although the Covid-19 pandemic physically isolated them CCM (heard that somewhere before?!) connected the groups creative minds in a generative aesthetic moment. The process all started with a blank canvas and an online gathering; what happened to the canvas was in the crowd's hands. We had 300 people join us online. Some of the artwork and more information about the project can be found on their website.

Piece from Collective Creative Mind by Niccolo Pescetelli Piece from Collective Creative Mind by Jenny Leonard

Click smaller images to view larger versions.


Dr Tim Schroder: 'A Marvel to Behold'

Photograph of Dr Tim SchroderIllustration depicting elements of Cardinal Wolsey's coat of arms.Dr Tim Schroder (1972) gives us a summary of his new book, 'A Marvel to Behold': Gold and Silver at the Court of Henry VIII:

"As we all know, Christ Church was originally founded by Cardinal Wolsey, as Cardinal College. Had it been completed to his plan - with cloisters around Tom Quad and with a magnificent chapel in place of the surviving medieval abbey church - it would have been far grander than it is. It would also have had a richer endowment than Henry VIII later provided.

Wolsey may not have completed the buildings, but he did provide his college with a rich array of pate, all of which was confiscated when he fell from grace. None of these objects survive, but many of the records do (including a list of some of Wolsey’s plate in the college archives), and this book explores their story as part of an account of Wolsey’s patronage of goldsmiths, which was second only to that of the king himself."

Special publisher's offer on 'A Marvel to Behold'.



Reminder: Event Dates 2020/2021


This note regards news of recent and future events which have been affected by COVID-19. More detailed emails will follow in due course, specifically to those members involved in each event, and information may also be found on the website. However, for now, please accept our apologies that we have had no choice but to make these changes, and our pledge to ensure you are able to visit the House again as soon as possible.
The 1960/70/80 Reunion dinner.
Due to have taken place on 3rd April 2020 these year groups, and their guests, will be invited to join the dinner in Hall planned for the 1961/71/81 year groups on Friday 16th April 2021.
The Christ Church Boat Club Society Dinner.
Due to have taken place on 30th May 2020. The proposal is to replicate the plans for the cancelled 2020 dinner on the Saturday night of Eights Week 2021: Saturday 29th May 2021
The Commemoration Ball.
Postponed from Saturday 20th June 2020 to Saturday 19th June 2021.
The Women’s 40th Anniversary weekend.
This was due to take place on the 18-20th September 2020. However, because of the continued uncertainty, we are proposing to hold a series of online talks, seminars, etc. this year, but ALSO rearrange a similar event to the one planned for 2020 on the same weekend as the Alumni weekend, Friday 17th – Sunday 19th September, 2021. That would thus become the Association weekend for 2021.
The 1971-75 Gaudy, due to have taken place on 26th June 2020, has been postponed to Friday 25th June 2021.
The 1976-80 Gaudy, due to take place on 2nd October 2020, has now been postponed to Friday 1st October 2021.
Gaudies are hugely time consuming for the staff and it is just not feasible to hold four in one year. Governing Body has agreed to move the whole Gaudy cycle back a year, so that nobody will miss out.

A full list of Gaudy dates to the end of the current cycle can be viewed by clicking here.


Poem for the Fortnight


Peter Wellby (1964)
Squadrons wing high above sea-cliffs,
bandits at noon,
a flight of feathered missiles
plummet from a hundred feet
to a geyser of spume-spray;
concussing sea at sixty miles an hour
they dive fathoms coursing sardine and squid.
eyes gimletting through pale blue spectacles,
stare-mad as herons, a focus so intent
they burn a flame with magnifying glare,
until the sea boils at their gaze
flashes white lightning.
Domestic, in their reeking colony
pairs clacket art-deco bills
like amorous castanets;
dumpy, draggled chicks, stinking guano,
the racket of their squabbles and trysts,
ciphers for nests: lumps of seaweed and dung,
like elegant horsewomen, groomed and plumed,
returning home to slattern sluttery.
When I see gannets set astride the wind,
cruising assertively,
I soar with them in their cool mastery
of the invisible mysteries of air,
join in breath-taking plunges from the sun,
chase tigered mackerel through the boisterous sea,
shadow their zig-zags with my poignard bill
and fathoms deep asleep, hunt with them still.

A selection of alumni poetry will soon be available on our website.

If you would like your poetry considered for feedback from the judges of our poetry competition, then please send your poems to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk A poem will be selected every fortnight from St Frideswide's Well and the poet will receive feedback via email. 


Poetry Prompt 

Photo of a beachThe judges of our poetry competition are providing fortnightly poetry prompts to pique your thoughts. 

The House is eager to see the results. Please send poems for possible inclusion in e-Matters to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk

This week's prompt:













The Autism Centre of Excellence - Chair Position: An Appeal from Aileen Thomson

The Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) will be the first national research and clinical centre for autistic people in the UK and will transform the quality of life of autistic people across the spectrum. It aims to showcase what constitutes excellent-quality autism services, and will be a catalyst for much-needed change and reform around autism. It seeks a Chair for its newly-formed Development Board who can represent the charity with influential prospective donors. The time commitment is 1 day per month and occasional meetings with donors.

If you are interested in this role and helping a new charity whose work will change the world for autistic people please contact aileen@autismresearchtrust.org