Monday, September 18, 2017

WOMEN AT OXFORD | Rhodes, Trinity, St Benet's

On the Trinity wall: Lady Elizabeth Pope (L)
and Anna Thompson. Photos by JT Marlin.
Oxford University has a brief note on its web site about the history of women at Oxford.

Here are three reports on the inclusion of women, among (1) Rhodes Scholars, (2) at Trinity College and (3) at St Benet's Hall.

1. Rhodes Scholars.This year is the 40th anniversary of the first women Rhodes Scholars.

Some have already made their mark. One of the 13 women listed attended Trinity College – Bonnie St John.

Clare Booth (top) and Roma
2. Trinity College. Trinity has replaced for a year all but two of its paintings with photographs of women – the exceptions being the painting of its founder, Sir Thomas Pope, and self-styled foundress, Lady Elizabeth Pope (Sir Thomas's second wife). 

Founded in 1555, Trinity College dates back several centuries more to the beginnings of its predecessor college, Durham, which was on the site for several centuries before Sir Thomas Pope first dissolved it.

Having closed Durham under Henry VIII, Sir Thomas purchased the land. He was a Roman Catholic, and repented of having closed Durham. Under Mary I, of whom he was a mentor, he founded a new college on the emptied Durham property.

Emily Boswell (top) and Kate Mavor.
He called it Trinity College and required its members to pray for his conscience-stricken soul every day, a commitment that the College still adheres to.

Clare Hopkins, the Trinity Archivist, reports that the first women's colleges at Oxford opened in 1879 but women were not allowed to take degrees until the 1920s.

(That is why American suffragist Inez Milholland, when she applied in 1909 to Oxford to study law, was rejected. Instead, she went to New York University, received her degree and became a lawyer.) 

Dame Frances Ashcroft (far left) and Georgia
Queenly, both to the left of Trinity's Founder
 (top) and Foundress.

Hopkins says that the first woman to study at Trinity was Frances Rich of Somerville, in 1885-86, sitting beside the Lecturer's wife. 

Somerville and Lady Margaret Hall were created in 1879. A full century later, in 1979, the first women were admitted, 17 undergraduates and six postgraduates.

The first female Fellow at Trinity was biochemist Sue Kingsman, who was a member of the Governing Body in 1884-97.

The first female President, Hilary Boulding, took up her position during the summer, succeeding Sir Ivor Roberts, who wrote the Foreword to the booklet entitled, with a nod to the past, "Feminae Trinitatis".

The paintings have been replaced by photos of recent alumnae.

The 16 featured women are shown in the 4x4 poster and samples of them on the wall are shown here.

The 16 women are, in alphabetical order: Dame Frances Ashcroft, Siân Berry, Claire Booth, Emily Boswell, Dame Sally Davies, Louise Hardwick, Olivia Hetreed, Zoe King, Kate Mavor, Sarah Oakley, Georgia Quenby, Emily Reynolds, Rosemarie Jordan Shore, Bonnie St John, Roma Tearne, and Anna Thompson.

3. St Benet's Hall. The City of Oxford reports on its web site's "Fun Facts" that Oxford did not admit women until 1878 and did not award degrees to them until 1920, and did not finish the coeducation program for the 38 Oxford colleges until 1974.

Actually, some Permanent Private Halls, which have religious affiliations but otherwise operate like the colleges, continued to exclude women until 2016.

A year ago, my wife Alice Tepper Marlin and I were privileged to flank the Master of St Benet's, Dr. Werner Jeanrond, at the first Sunday luncheon of the members of the newly coeducational St Benet's Hall, the last of the 38 colleges and six permanent private halls at Oxford to become coeducational.

St Benet's is one of six remaining Permanent Private Halls at Oxford, although one of them (St Regent's College) is called a college, and two of the colleges (St Edmund Hall and Lady Margaret Hall) still have the word "hall" after their names.

My connection to St Benet's is that for three years I attended Ampleforth College, of which St Benet's is a foundation. Ampleforth became coeducational long before St Benet's.

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