Monday, October 9, 2017

OXFORD OPEN DAY | Selling the Colleges, 2017

1. Jesus College on Turl Street flaunts its
 green color, attributed to its Welsh and
Celtic appeal or its revised arms.
 Oxford is continuing to seek applications  from the broadest possible pool of secondary school students.

This is good for Oxford and good for secondary schools.

Students have to apply to one of Oxford's 38 colleges or six Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

So every year the colleges open their doors about two weeks before Michaelmas term opens, and then a week and a half after the Trinity term ends (in 2018, the Open Days are June 27-28).
2. Exeter College, also on the Turl, has
the Welcome banner out.

The Michaelmas term is so named because term starts soon after the feast of St Michael the Archangel, on September 29. The colleges then open their doors to students and it is inconvenient for there to be an Open Day.

The colleges and halls are becoming more competitive about Open Day. 
3. Trinity College is central, next to the
White Horse, Blackwell's, and the Bodleian.

For that day, the college gates are opened wide. The Keep Out signs are replaced by welcoming  banners and balloons.  

Some colleges take it a little bit further, to get an edge. Unfairly? You be the judge. Here are some Open Day stories from five colleges. 

We start our walking tour going north on Turl Street. We pass Lincoln College on our right, visit Jesus on our left, then Exeter on our right. We now face Trinity College. We turn left to the corner, intending to head for St Regent's College in St Giles. 

However, as we pass Boswell's, we are hijacked. We are offered a free ride akin to that in Midnight in Paris, to a place called LMH, with the promise of free ice cream at the destination. Read on.
4. Regent's Park College makes its presence known
in front of the Sheldonian, perhaps to prevent
hijacking of young students on their way to St Giles. 

1. Jesus College. As one walks on The Turl north from High Street, Jesus is on the left. I was advised by Paul Walton, who knows a thing or two about Wales, that the green color of Jesus is related to its Welsh affiliation, because its foundation was promoted by Welshman Dr Hugh Price of St David's Cathedral, in 1571. However, the original field of Price's coat of arms was azure (blue). The field was later revised to vert (green), perhaps in honor of the Green family, or in homage to Price's Welsh heritage.  Queen Elizabeth is the founder of Jesus College; it is the only college she founded, and the only one founded during her long reign. Its Celtic Studies library is special. Its most famous alumnus is surely Welshman T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"). Its student body is 15 percent Welsh.

2. Exeter College. Exeter College's color is purple, referencing the fact that it was founded in 1315 by Walter de Stapeldon, a Devon man who rose to become Bishop of Exeter and Treasurer of England under Edward II. Purple is the color of bishops. The eight pairs of golden keys in the Exeter coat of arms reflect the episcopal origin of the college, as  St Peter, the first bishop, was given "the keys to the kingdom of heaven". Exeter was originally called Stapeldon Hall; it is considered the fourth-oldest college at Oxford.

3. Trinity College. Trinity's arms are those of its Founder, Sir Thomas Pope. The tincture on his  arms is azure (blue), with the metal or (gold). The college colors are blue and white. Pope was a Catholic entrusted with the task of dissolving and emptying out church-owned colleges. Durham College was a seminary established by the Bishop Prince of Durham. After Catholicism was reinstated by Mary I, Pope established a new Catholic college on the spot.


Offering a Free Ride to LMH.
4. Regent's Park College. Things are not always what they seem. Regent's Park College is not a college, but is the smallest of the six Permanent Private Halls. The PPHs are increasingly being given similar status as the full colleges, but because of their governing are presumed to be less independent of their religious origins as the colleges. 

Regent's Park College sells itself as a quiet place near the center of Oxford. Its origins go back to a Baptist conference in 1752. The original institution was founded in 1810 and moved to Pusey Street, off St Giles, in 1927. It is near to St Cross College, which shares an entrance with Pusey House. Regent's Park College welcomes students in the arts, humanities and social sciences. A few study to be Baptist ministers. The Library includes a special focus on the history of dissenters. In fact, because of its history of religious dissent, members of Regent's Park College are discouraged from using Latin! The college Grace is recited in English by the Principal: For the gifts of your grace and the community of this college, we praise your name, O God. Amen. At the end of Formal Hall the Principal signals the departure of senior members (there is usually no High Table) with the words: "The grace and peace of God be with us all. Amen." Amen to that.

5. Lady Margaret Hall (LMH). Just as Regent's Park College is a hall, so Lady Margaret Hill is a college, as is St Edmund Hall.


LMH is located at the end of Norham Gardens, with property extending to a wide frontage on the River Cherwell. 

Since this is a bit of a hike from central Oxford, the offer of a lift with ice cream waiting at the end is a clever way of attracting the interest of potential applicants.While the lure of free ice cream may seem to be unfair competition, how else expose impressionable students to the glory of the Banks of the Cherwell, where this 1918 photo of three LMHers (two Saunders sisters at left and someone at right identified as named C.S.L. who is clearly not C.S. Lewis).
Picnic at LMH by the Cherwell, 1918. Two Saunders sister (L) and C.S.L.

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