Friday, May 18, 2018

HERALDRY | Balliol. (May 29, 2018)

John de Balliol's arms, with
his wife's royal arms in the
dexter position.
. Founded by John de Balliol as penance for arguing with the Bishop of Durham.
. Balliol's royal wife, Dervorguilla de Galloway, takes the prominent dexter pale.
. Balliol was never King of Scotland, but his son and grandson were.
. The feud with neighboring Trinity has taken some bizarre turns.

Arms, Blazon Azure a Lion rampant Argent crowned Or (for Galloway) impaling Gules and Orle Argent (for Balliol). 

Arms, Authority The arms are ancient, recorded in Lee’s 1574 Visitation. Burkes, 1884, 43 and 971. Brooke-Little, 1951. Tauté & Squire, 1990.

Arms, Meaning Balliol College's rampant lion indicates Scottish royalty. Balliol was founded by John de Balliol, challenger to Robert the Bruce to become king of Scotland. His widow, Dervorguilla de Galloway, who carried her late husband’s skull with her in a case, completed his foundation of the college with statutes. Their third son John and their grandson Edward became Kings of Scotland, as her father Alan Lord of Galloway was Regent of Scotland. The rampant lion comes from her Galloway ancestors and is unusually impaled dexter, the senior position, because she was in the royal line of succession. 

Founded 1263. Statutes adopted 1282.

Head of House The Master is Dame Helen Ghosh, former Director-General of the National Trust and Home Office Permanent Secretary, and an alumna of St Hugh's and Hertford Colleges. She is the first woman Master of Balliol.

History Balliol was founded to assist 16 poor scholars, a penance imposed on John de Balliol by the Prince Bishop of Durham following a dispute between them in 1255. After John de Balliol’s death in 1269 (1268?), his widow Lady Devorguilla of Galloway carried out his wishes for the college and is considered co-founder. She provided capital and   formulated the college statutes. Under a statute of 1881, New Inn Hall was merged into Balliol College in 1887.

Special Features Since at least 1550, on the feast day of the patron saint of the College, St Catherine of Alexandria (25 November), a formal dinner is held for all final-year students within Balliol. The Snell Dinner is held in memory of John Snell, whose benefaction established exhibitions for students from the University of Glasgow to study at Balliol (the first exhibitioners were matriculated in 1699) one of whom was Adam SmithThe Nepotists carol-singing event organised by the College's Arnold and Brackenbury Society happens on the last Friday of the autumn term each year. On this occasion, Balliol students congregate in the college hall to sing carols and "The Gordouli".

In 1880, seven Balliol undergraduates published The Masque of B-ll--l, a broadsheet of forty quatrains making light of their superiors. Verses of this form are now known as Balliol rhymesThe best known of these rhymes is the one on Benjamin Jowett
First come I. / My name is J-W-TT. / There's no knowledge but I know it. / I am Master of this College, / What I don't know isn't knowledge.
For many years, a traditional rivalry has been shown between the students of Balliol and those of its immediate neighbour to the east, Trinity Collee. It may be seen on the sports field and the river; in songs sung over the dividing walls; in "raids" on the other college; and even in comments heard in movie theaters.

The cross next to Balliol's entrance marks where
three Protestant "Oxford" martyrs were burnt
at the stake in 1555-56. Photo by JT Marlin.
(See also

The rivalry goes back to the late 17th century, when Ralph Bathurst, President of Trinity, was by legend observed throwing stones at Balliol's windows. In a lurid version of the story retold by an incoming student, Balliol students were killed (; no support for this story is in the Trinity archives.

In its modern form, the rivalry appears to date from the late 1890s, when the chant or song known as a "Gordouli" began to be sung from the Balliol side. "Gordoulis" was a locally sold brand of Egyptian cigarette. As "Gordouli", it was used by Balliol men as a nickname for Trinity undergraduate Arthur Galletti. The words run:
Gordouli / Face like a ham, / Bobby Johnson says so / And he should know.
Bobby Johnson was an undergraduate at New College.The shouting of chants over the wall is still known as "a Gordouli", and the tradition continues as the students gather to sing following boat club dinners. The Gordouli is said to have been sung by Balliol and Trinity men in the Mesopotamian trenches in the First World War.
One of the wittier raids from Balliol, during the author's time at Oxford, involved the turfing of the whole of Trinity JCR (complete with daffodils).The last incident suspected to relate to the feud was the vandalisation of Trinity's SCR pond, which led to the death of all but one of the fish.

Balliol's Garden Quad at Balliol was the scene of the well-known limerick that parodies the immaterialist philosophy of Bishop Berkeley:
There was a young man who said,  God / Must think it exceedingly odd / If he finds that this tree / Continues to be / When there's no one about in the Quad
The response by Balliol-educated Catholic theologian and Bible translator Ronald Knox, who became a don at Trinity, more accurately reflects Bishop Berkeley's beliefs:
Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd: / I am always about in the Quad. / And that's why the tree / Will continue to be, / Since observed by, Yours faithfully, GOD.
For more than 700 years Balliol College admitted only men. In 1967 Balliol created a coeducational program with St Anne's. Balliol's appointment of Carol Clark to a Tutorial Fellowship in Modern Languages in 1973 was the first appointment of a female Fellow in any of the ancient all-male Oxford colleges. In 1979, Balliol accepted its first female students. In 2010, the college unveiled a sundial in the Garden Quad commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the admission of women to the college, inscribed with the phrase "About Time". 

From 2010 Balliol joined Lincoln College and SEH in making a redundant church into a library, as St Cross Church became the College's Historic Collections Centre. 

"Balliol Archives - College Arms"
Hiscock, Walter George, "The Balliol rhymes" 
Hopkins, Clare and Bryan Ward-Perkins, "The Trinity/Balliol Feud", Trinity College Oxford Report (1989-90), 45-66. 
Knight, G. Norman, "The Quest for Gordouli", Balliol College Record, 1969; reprinted in Trinity College Oxford Report, 1984-5. 
Segrove, Natalya. "Trinity fish murdered"

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