Saturday, October 29, 2016

HERALDRY: Chavasse Coat of Arms

Martlets sable (St Peter's
The St Peter's College arms are impaled with the St Peter's Church arms dexter and the Chavasse arms sinister. The arms of the church are straightforward – keys for St Peter and a building for the church.

The arms of Chavasse include a four martlets (shown sometimes in outline as at left and sometimes as sable as at right) around a cross of St George, with a miter or at center. The miter is explained by the bishopric of Francis James Chavasse. But where do the martlets come from?

University College. One possible source of the martlets is the Univ coat of arms, which includes five martlets sable. The Chavasse family has had an association with Univ at least since May 1880, when after a bump supper an undergraduate played a practical joke on Fellow Albert Sidney Chavasse, cousin of Francis James Chavasse, by screwing tight the door to his room. Since Chavasse, who was a Univ. Fellow from 1864 to 1902, had recently been appointed Senior Proctor, both the university and College were angered at this affront to their authority. After a vote by the Univ Fellows, the Master (George Bradley) responded by sending down ("rusticating") the entire Univ student body unless the guilty person(s) came forward. Chavasse was the sole Fellow who was good-humored about the prank and who voted against the proposal. The undergraduates who knew the name of the perpetrator refused to squeal (snitch, peach) and the others refused to engage in a witch-hunt among their members. So they all left en masse that day. In any case, the perpetrator – one Samuel Sandbach – had already gone down to a yeomanry camp. When he was informed what had happened he confessed immediately and the undergraduates were permitted to return after a week's involuntary absence. The incident attracted newspaper comment to the effect that while the prank was ill conceived, the scope of the College's punishment was excessive. A large number of cartoons appeared about the incident, one of them with Chavasse climbing into his bedroom on a ladder. Possibly the Chavasse family takes special pride in the incident because Albert Chavasse, the victim, took the incident in his stride and did not overreact like his colleagues.

Sutton Coldfield. Bishop Chavasse was born in Sutton Coldfield and his arms may incorporate the birds in the Sutton Coldfield arms, which were in turn derived from the arms of bishop John Vesey. However, these birds are not martlets because they have feet, like the birds of the arms of Thomas More–or the choughs in the arms of Thomas à Becket. The Chavasse arms may hark back to the attributed arms of Edward the Confessor, the blazon for which is "Azure a cross flory between five martlets or."

Liverpool. Bishop Chavasse was the second Bishop of Liverpool, and the Liver Bird is a symbol of the city. However, this bird looks like a cormorant, with a beak, long neck and feet. The martlets of the Chavasse family don't look like liver birds. (Paul McCartney adopted a singing liver bird with guitar for his coat of arms.)

Bottom Line. My best guess right now is that the martlets sable in the Chavasse arms reference the arms of Univ. or those of Edward the Confessor. However, I continue to be puzzled about this and would welcome alternative hypotheses or evidence.

Chavasse, Albert S. Undergraduate Diary, 1865-68.
Darwall-Smith, Robin, A History of Univ. College Oxford (Oxford, 2008), 402-6.   
Mitchell, L.G. "The Screwing up of the Dean", Univ. College Record, XI:4 (1996), 69-81.
Sutton Coldfield. Town website.
Univ. Library. UC:P45/MS/1, originally sent to Wild by the son of Sir Michael Sadler.
Univ. website: The Sending Down of 1880. Further Sources on the Sending Down of 1880. (Both catalogued Jan. 1996.)
Univ. website: Cartoons about the Sending Down of 1880. (Catalogued June 2013)
Wild, J.H.S. Collection, Univ. Muniment Room, Aug. 1951.

Other Posts on the Arms of Oxford Colleges and PPHs: Original Article in Oxford Today . Heraldry as Branding . Heraldry as Fun .  Coat of Arms vs. Crest . Sinister Questions . Visit to the College of Arms . Windsor Herald Talks to New Yorkers . Shaming of Harvard Law Shield :: Rapid Expansion of Oxford's Colleges and Halls . Oxford Stars . HERALDRY SUPERLINK . Harris Manchester College . Linacre College . St Catherine's . St Cross College . St Edmund Hall . St Peter's College . Trinity College :: Regent's Park College . St Benet's Hall

Other Related Posts: Douglas Arms in France

Thursday, October 27, 2016

HERALDRY: St. Peter's College and the Chavasse Arms

Arms of St Peter's College.
Blazon: Per pale Vert and Argent dexter two Keys in saltire Or surmounted by a triple towered Castle of the second masoned Sable sinister a Cross Gules surmounted by a Mitre of the third between four Martlets Sable the whole within a bordure Or. 

Authority: St. Peter's Hall was granted arms the year it was founded, on 19 Dec 1929. In 1947 St. Peter's Hall was given the full privileges of a College as a "New Foundation" and the name has been St Peter’s College since 1961.

Meaning: The St Peter's shield incorporates devices representing: (1) On the right (green) half as seen from the perspective of the shield-holder are the arms of the church of St Peter-le-Bailey, i.e., the crossed keys of St Peter and the superimposed bailey or castle fortification. (2) On the left half, the four birds around the English St George's red cross and the bishop's miter signify the arms of the founder Bishop Francis James Chavasse,

History: St Peter’s College was founded as St Peter's Hall in 1929 by Bishop Francis James Chavasse (1846-1928) and his son Christopher Maude Chavasse (1884-1962), later bishop of Rochester. Bishop Francis Chavasse's dreamed of a new Oxford hall that would seek out eligible young men from poor circumstances. It was realized the year after the Bishop's death. Bishop Chavasse's son Christopher became the first Master of St Peter's. Christopher Chavasse was awarded the Military Cross in World War I.
Noel Chavasse.

Christopher's twin brother Noel Chavasse won the only Victoria Cross with bar in World War I. Noel Chavasse has been described as the "Oxford's greatest military hero in the 20th century" by David Horan, author of Oxford: A Cultural and Literary Companion.

Noel and his twin brother Francis matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford in 1904 or 1905 and competed in sports (rugby and athletics) for the University; both ran for Britain in the Olympics. The 1920 Oxford University Roll of Service included the names of 820 Trinity men who served in the Great War. Of them, 153 or nearly one-fifth, died while serving their country.

Here are the names of the four Chavasse men, two of whom were killed in action in World War I:

Capt Noel Chavasse was in the medical corps, treating injured soldiers, and for his bravery in August 1916 in Guillemot, Noel was awarded his first Victoria Cross, the highest military honor. He won a second VC in a battle in Belgium that killed him in 1917. He is the only soldier in World War I who won the VC a second time ("with Bar"). He is also only one of three soldiers ever to have won the VC with bar and the only Oxford alumnus. He is buried in Belgium.

Christopher Chavasse was an Army chaplain wounded at Cambrai in 1917, and, as mentioned, was awarded the MC.

Capt Francis Bernard Chavasse, also a medic with the RAMC, was wounded at Hooge and was awarded the MC. Francis became the first Master of St Peter's in 1929 and co-founder with his father of St. Peter's Hall (later College), Oxford.

Lt Aidan Chavasse, the youngest brother, also served with the 11th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool regiment, renowned as volunteering for dangerous missions and was judged by his Brigade-Major to be the bravest man under his command. He was wounded on a mission to inspect German wire near Sanctuary Wood in July 17. He sent his patrol back to safety and took cover in a shell-hole. His body was never found.

In total, the Chavasse boys were awarded 21 medals for their actions during WWI. Their two sisters, Marjorie and May, served as volunteer nurses at soldiers’ hospitals.

Memorials, 2016-2017

Several centennial events celebrate the bravery of the Chavasse family, and Noel in particular, along with an exhibition at the west end of the St Peter's College Chapel:

May 2016. General Sir Nicholas Houghton, then Chief of the Defence Staff, and a St Peter’s alumnus and Honorary Fellow, spoke about Noel Chavasse.

Oct. 13, 2016.  Award-winning broadcaster and author Jeremy Paxman delivered the second Chavasse memorial lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre before an audience of hundreds, including descendants of the Chavasse family. He spoke on "World War I: The War to End War", reminding his audience of the daily horrors of trench warfare and the sequence of events that led to it. He answered questions from the Master, Mark Damazer CBE, and members of the audience.

Memorial to Noel Chavasse at Trinity
College. Photo by JT Marlin.
Oct. 23, 2016. A ceremony at St Peter's College Chapel commemorated Noel Chavasse's two Victoria Crosses. The Chapel, originally the church of St Peter-le-Bailey, was where the twins were both baptized. The service was conducted by the chaplains of St Peter’s and Trinity and the two chapel choirs combined to number about 40 producing what is reported as "a glorious sound". The service concluded with the famous quatrain of Laurence Binyon (Trinity 1888) from his poem, “They shall not grow old” set to music by 13-year-old Zachary Roberts.

Feb. 2, 2017. A Trinity College lecture to commemorate Noel Chavasse will be delivered by Professor Mark Harrison, Professor of the History of Medicine, Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine. His topic was "Part of the Family–the Medical Officer on the Western Front." A bronze of Noel Chavasse showing him dragging a wounded soldier from no-man’s land is located outside the library entrance. A bust of Chavasse is inside the library and a portrait of Chavasse in the Chavasse Suite on Staircase 16.

Sources: David Horan, Oxford: A Cultural and Literary Companion. Websites of St Peter's and Trinity College. Ian Senior, Trinity College Newsletter.

Other Posts on the Arms of Oxford Colleges and PPHs: In Alphabetical Order . 
Chavasse Coat of Arms . Original Article in Oxford Today . Heraldry as Branding . Heraldry as Fun .  Coat of Arms vs. Crest . Sinister Questions . Visit to the College of Arms . Windsor Herald Talks to New Yorkers . Shaming of Harvard Law Shield :: Rapid Expansion of Oxford's Colleges and Halls . Oxford Stars . HERALDRY SUPERLINK . Harris Manchester College . Linacre College . St Catherine's . St Cross College . St Edmund Hall . St Peter's College . Trinity College :: Regent's Park College . St Benet's Hall . 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

BLOG VIEWS: Oct. 26, 150K Views, Top Posts

Cantabridgia Fools the Waves. Cambridge women's blue
boat appears to sinking under water. What seems to be a
periscope behind the cox is actually a movie camera.
This blog just passed 150,000 page views! 

Thank you for reading. 

Comments are welcomed.

See 2016
Men's Race and Women's Race tapes here.

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Monday, October 17, 2016


Oxford-Cambridge alumni are invited to visit the Alumni Tent at the 2016 Head of the Charles event.

It will be in the Reunion Village  on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass.

Be there or be square. Sunday, Oct 23rd, noon-4pm. More details:

Other posts about rowing: 2015 Boat Race Dinners .

Sunday, October 16, 2016

OXFORD: Punting

Punting in Oxford, c. 1985.
Photo by C. G. Oakley.
Alice and I recently had the pleasure of joining my nephew Chris and some friends on a punting trip on the Cherwell. 

Picking a punt
at Salter's.
We hired a punt for a couple of hours from Salter's at Folly Bridge.

Chris is an experienced punter (at top is a photo he took 30 years ago of a punt outing arranged by the Oxford Vl'Hurg Society) and took us on the outward trip. 
Visit to Trinity boathouse.

We went down the row of college boathouses and stopped in at the Trinity College boathouse.

Jane and Blake view college boathouses.
The Trinity shield looked a bit worn.
Jane and Alice and ducks.

We were assured by the Trinity boatman (who shares his time with four other colleges) that the faded Trinity shield was in the process of being redone in a slightly larger size to match other fields, which were larger.

After the boathouse visit, Blake was given a few tips on punting by Chris. 

Blake then took over the pole and we punted around the Cherwell by Christ Church Meadow.

Unlike the Venetian gondolier, who sculls with an oar using the famous upright on the bow, the Oxford punter pushes along the bottom with a long hollow aluminum (used to be wooden) pole. 

Punting 2016. Selfie by JT Marlin,
with Blake Fleetwood on the pole.
A book on punting shows the eight steps of the technique of punting.

The first four figures are pulling the pole forward in a hand-over-hand movement. 

The second four show the pole going down and back.

Here is a selfie photo of Blake at work pushing me, Chris and our two ladies.

Other boating posts: Head of the Charles . Boat Race Dinners 2015

LIBRARIES: Why Anglophones Are Tops

Bodleian, Oxford (Weston Library). Reader goes to
desk, then admissions at right. Card admits to stacks via
 readers' door at left. Easy-peasy. Photos by JT Marlin.
I have previously noted that four of the five  great libraries in the world are in the UK or USA:
  • Oxford's Bodleian (the only university library).
  • The British Library in London near St. Pancras Station.
  • The Library of Congress on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
  • The New York Public Library in Mid-Manhattan, branches throughout NYC.
The rest of the world is represented by one library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris.

Why might it be that four of the five great libraries are in anglophone countries?

I think Gutenberg's moveable-type printing press was especially adapted to the heirs to the Greco-Roman language because the European languages are phonetic and based on a relatively small number of component letters. Chinese characters are more complicated and were harder to convert to mechanical printing (computers have made it much easier). Korean and Japanese phonetic characters were relatively late arrivals.

Within Europe, Italy and Germany had common languages but were not unified until the 19th century and therefore didn't have a strong national center for storing and making accessible books.

Bottom line, the major factor seems to be the high degree of literacy and the policy decisions made in the USA and UK to make available free libraries, following the success of philanthropic initiatives along these lines.

I'm a big user of the four USA and UK libraries. A month rarely goes by when I am not in one of them or consulting their resources online. Only one is a university library, the Bodleian. It and the British library receive registration copies of all new published books (as do other UK libraries). The Library of Congress is the singular depository of copyrighted books in the USA, but in usage the NY Public Library has nearly ten times the number of visitors of any other library in the world.

Bibliothèque nationale. Line up. Be ready to wait, then walk,
a lot. Allow a day for orientation. Rely on staff; don't dare to try to
figure anything out on your own because you can't, as you will find
out within a few minutes. Don't expect fast delivery of books.
My main comment on the difference between the four US and UK libraries and the Bibliothèque Nationale is that one could go into any of the four anglo libraries and generally find something on one's own, without requiring high-level support.

The BnF, however, is built like a fortress to protect its books and without help from the skilled staff  one could be lost inside forever.

I have provided at top a photo of what one faces on one's first visit to Oxford's Bodleian Library (Weston building). The inquiry desk is designed essentially to shuttle you into Admissions at right or admit you to the stacks at left. End of story.

At right is my photo of what one faces as ones first introduction to the BnF. The nice murals and indirect lighting don't veil the message that one is in the hands of bureaucracy from here on, and get used to it. One is given chairs to wait in and you take a number. Then you fill out paperwork. Then you are given instructions for your long walks to the vestiaire, the place where you will sit, the place where your books are, and the place where you order them. These places in my case were widely scattered:
Daily tickets.
  • When I first arrived, I walked through several doors that were like submarine or space ship interlocks, and then down a cavernous escalator. The books I needed were at the other end of the huge BnF plaza, a walk I feel sure was a quarter-mile long.
  • I had to go back to the admission office because somehow I as a reader had been misclassified by the Bureau of Accréditation. I still have no clue what the problem was but the classification is a matter of highest importance to everyone in the library and the fact that I didn't care was of zero interest to anyone.
  • So on my first day at the library, I must have walked a full mile inside the library, from one office to another and back again. As Gen. Pierre Bosquet said of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava: "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."
  • I was looking for books on French heraldry and found a gap in the books on the shelves. There was no explanation on the shelf for the gap. I went to the desk and they advised me that all the heraldry books were filed together in the middle of the aisle, some distance from the shelves where the number order would suggest they would be located. I started to point out the difficulty posed to a visitor so that it could be fixed, until, as I talked, it dawned on me that the difficulty was built into the library. I was simply exposing to ridicule my simple Anglo-Saxon peasant mind, which tries to make things efficient and ignores the impact on the work place, the Code du Travail []. So I interrupted myself 🙊and decided to go with the flow. Just don't expect things to be in the right order and instead appreciate the ancient régime way the BnF provides special status for their armes.
  • I think you need to buy a new ticket every day you enter the BnF. They provide three of them gratuits. I don't pretend to understand where or when you produce these tickets. I hope I never have to find out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WOODSTOCK: Ancient Oxford Suburb

Alice Tepper Marlin (L) and your
blogger. Photo by Chris Oakley.
Last week Alice and I visited the original Woodstock north of Oxford last week with my nephew Chris.

The first Woodstock a New Yorker would think of is the original site of the famed 1969 Festival in New York State where many cultural rebels settled (Berkeley East?). Here are 81 photos if you have forgotten this. Our friends Cinnamon and Curry Rinzler live there.

For a skier, Woodstock in Vermont is where people risk a trip down Suicide Six. Alice broke her leg there, before I met her in 1971. Her nephew Max Comins bought the Kedron Valley Inn in Woodstock and ran it with his wife for many years.

But for a students or staff of Oxford University, it's the town eight miles north of Oxford, reached by Woodstock Road, where 'The Bear" beckons and Blenheim Palace calls for a visit.

Blenheim Palace is both a visual treat ("England's best view") and has a unique history as the only non-bishop non-royal palace in England.

It used to be in a Royal Forest. Woodstock means "Clearing in a Wood". The town was a staging area for travelers by coach or on horseback.

In the midst of the stabling of horses, accommodation of riders and coachmen, and their related food and beverage needs grew up  "The Bear", an inn and revered tavern and restaurant.

Alice at Woodstock Pharmacy, Oxon.
This and next photo by JT Marlin.
Another revered institution, but one that no longer exists, was the Woodstock Palace, which catered to royal visitors. Woodstock had the honor of an early (1179) royal charter from Henry II.

Here in the Palace in 1361 was married Mary Plantagenet, daughter of Edward III of England, to John V, Duke of Brittany.

Woodstock Palace was destroyed during England's civil war. Its loss created a hole that was filled by the First Duke of Marlborough after he defeated Louis XIV in battle and rescued Britain from a new subjection to the French.
Craft Fair on in Woodstock, Oxon.

The First Duke's achievement is compared with his descendant Winston Churchill's key role in leading his country in resisting attacks by Hitler's Germany. (Winston S. [for Spencer] Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace two months prematurely when his parents were visiting their cousin the Duke of Marlborough.)

Today, Woodstock, Oxon. shares a few characteristics with the Woodstocks in New York and Vermont. All three have a tourist trade, good dining, famous residents, a care for the environment and a focus on arts and crafts activities.

Woodstock, NY and Woodstock, Oxon. share a connection with the pharmaceutical industry–the British town had one of the oldest pharmacies in the country.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

OXFORD: Looking at Maps at the Bodleian (Tips)

I am researching the maps of the planned German invasion of Britain and was disappointed not to see all the maps at the Bodleian Library that I wanted to during my current visit to Oxford.

I discovered that maps are not usually kept on site and are stored outside of Oxford.

A lesson for the New York Public Library is that its plan to move everything off site creates problems for researchers that may not be fully foreseen. I am therefore glad that this project was abandoned after widespread protest from users. The Bodleian is the world's greatest university library, but the New York Public Library is the world's most heavily used library–by far!

My request for the Oxford invasion maps was interpreted as a request for the maps in East Anglia (where Cambridge is located). Oxford is in the Midlands. If I had understood that there might be this problem, I would have been more careful in specifying which maps I wanted. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered the problem, I had to return to the USA. Mission not accomplished.

There are ways to shorten the time it takes to see maps. The following is from the Bodleian web site, in a place that one would consult once one knows there might be an issue.
The vast majority of the Bodleian's collection– including its maps–is stored off-site in closed stacks. Items are retrieved by request.  
Most orders are available by the next working day (the Library is closed Sundays) for consultation in the Weston Library. Requested maps may be retrieved from the reserve desk in the Mackerras Room on the First Floor. 
Readers who are travelling in from outside of Oxford are kindly requested to contact us by telephone or email a few days in advance to arrange the retrieval of items from storage. 
Readers may enquire about maps by email (, by telephone at +44 (0) 1865 287300, or in person at any of the enquiry desks in the Weston Library. The staff are as helpful as they can be given their separation from the books that they are trying to get for their users.

Where possible, enquiries for maps should specify:
  • The geographic area(s) of interest
  • The date(s) of publication
  • The map's content, i.e. topography, geology, hydrography, transport ...
  • The publisher / creator

Saturday, October 8, 2016

OXFORD: #1 in "Times" Uni Rankings

Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson.
The (London) Times Higher Education (THEWorld University Rankings rates Oxford in first place this year.

Oxford displaces CalTech, which has dominated the list in the last five years and before but is now is second place. The next three were Stanford, Cambridge and MIT.

THE Rankings are the only audited global inter-university comparisons. Audit of THE Rankings was by PwC. 

The ranking is based on the following factors, with their weights:
  • teaching 30% (based on reputation, staff-student ratio etc.),
  • research 30%,
  • citations 30%,
  • international outlook 7.5%,
  • industry income 2.5%.
Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, who has taken over since January 2016 as Oxford's CEO,  welcomed the news and said in a recent speech:
The ranking is even more impressive when one realises that we are far less wealthy than most of our global competitors. The endowment of the entire university–colleges and university together–is less than one-sixth of Harvard’s  [$38 billion in 2015] and a quarter of Stanford’s, Yale’s, and Princeton’s.
The rankings are dominated by U.S. universities, which account for 63 of the top 200. Asian universities improved their rankings, with 19 now in the top 200.