Saturday, May 19, 2018

HERALDRY | St Hugh's. (May 21, 2018)

St Hugh's College
Blazon Azure a Saltire Ermine between four Fleurs-de-lys Or.

Authority Brooke-Little, Heraldry Society, 1951 (Assumed arms?).

Meaning The Fleurs-de-lys refer to France, because the college is named for the 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh of Avalon, who was originally from Avalon in Burgundy, France. The ermine probably references Henry II's patronage of Hugh. The saltire may reference the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, for which Henry II of England was required by the Pope to go on crusade or establish a Carthusian Charterhouse in Withan to be settled by monks from the Grande Chartreuse. Henry II complied and invited Hugh to become prior of this monastery. Oxford at that time was in the diocese of Lincoln. 

Founded 1886 by Elizabeth Wordsworth, great-niece of the poet William Wordsworth, for women who could not pay the charges of existing colleges. She established the college with money left to her by her father, who had been, like St Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln.

Nominee Known as Hugh of Lincoln, Hugh of Avalon and St Hugh, he has been described as the best-known English saint after Thomas Becket. Hugh was born in the château of Avalon in 1140. At 15, he became a novice in a Benedictine monastery. At 25 he opted for a strict religious life and joined the Carthusian monks at Grande Chartreuse. Ten years later the King of England, Henry II invited him to be prior of the first Carthusian house in England. He was still there in 1168 when appointed Bishop of Lincoln, then the largest diocese in England. Hugh brought great energy and rigor to the post. He quickly brought efficiency and stability to the flourishing diocese. He also saw to it that the local Jewish community was spared from ridicule and persecution. Hugh devoted his special attention to the outcast and oppressed, such as lepers or other sick people, and the poor, as described by his biographer, Adam, a Benedictine monk of Eynsham who was his chaplain and constant associate; the manuscript is in the Bodleian Library. 

Though Hugh maintained his friendship with Henry II, he often disagreed with him and other leaders, particularly the king's chief forester, whom Hugh excommunicated. He also refused to seat one of Henry's courtly nominees as a prebendary of Lincoln; he softened the king's anger with his diplomatic charm. Lincoln Cathedral had been badly damaged by an earthquake in 1185, and Hugh set about rebuilding it in the new Gothic style. In 1194, he expanded St Mary Magdalen's Church, Oxford. 

Along with Bishop Herbert of Salisbury, Hugh resisted King Richard I’s demand for 300 knights for a year's service in his French wars; the entire revenue of both men's offices was then seized by royal agents. As one of the premier bishops of the Kingdom of England Hugh more than once accepted the role of diplomat to France for Richard I and then for King John in 1199, a trip that ruined his health. He consecrated St Giles' Church, Oxford, in 1200. Also in commemoration of the consecration, St Giles' Fair was established and continues to this day each September. While attending a national council in London, a few months later, he was stricken with an unnamed ailment and died two months later on 16 November 1200. He was buried in Lincoln Cathedral. Hugh was canonised by Pope Honorius III on 17 February 1220, and is the patron saint of sick people, shoemakers and swans. St Hugh's feast day is 16 November in the Catholic Church and 17 November in the Anglican Churches.

St Hugh, Bishop
of Lincoln
The Swan of Stow:  A 1926 statue of St Hugh stands on the stairs of the Howard Piper Library; in his right hand, he holds an effigy of Lincoln Cathedral, and his left hand rests on the head of a swan. Hugh's primary emblem is a white swan, in reference to the story of the swan of Stow which had a deep and lasting friendship with the saint, even guarding him while he slept. The swan would follow him about, and was his constant companion while he was at Lincoln. Hugh loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about. The swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh..

History: St Hugh's accepted its first male students in its centenary year, 1986. In its 125th anniversary year, the college became a registered charity under the name 'The Principal and Fellows of St Hugh's College in the University of Oxford'.

The college was initially accommodated in properties in Norham Road, Norham Gardens and Fyfield Road. Its first six students were Annie Moberly, Jessie Annie Emmerson, Charlotte Jourdain, Constance E. Ashburner, Wilhemina J. de Lorna Mitchell and Grace J. Parsons. Students were required to ask the Principal before accepting invitations to visit friends, and the college gates were locked at 9pm. Records show that rent was between £18 and £21 a term depending on the size of the room, with fires being charged extra.

The Main Building of the college was constructed between 1914 and 1916, thanks to a gift from Clara Evelyn Mordan; the college's new library was named Mordan Hall in her honour.
The college soon took over other properties nearby. No. 89 Banbury Road was purchased from Lincoln College  in 1927. The college obtained the land for the main site in 1927 and a year later the first stage of the Mary Gray Allen building was constructed. courts. The properties at 1-4 St Margaret's Road and 74-82 Woodstock Road were purchased from St John's College in 1931 and 1932. The college received a Royal Charter in 1926.

A new boathouse was constructed (jointly with St Anne's and Wadham Colleges) in 1989- 1990. Statues are in place of both St Hugh and Elizabeth Wordsworth on the library stairs, gifts for its Jubilee in 1936. St Hugh carries a model of Lincoln Cathedral, which would have been very familiar to Elizabeth Wordsworth. His other hand rests the head of a swan, probably the famed swan of Stow. Elizabeth Wordsworth is depicted wearing her doctoral robes. St Hugh's celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011; a summer garden party was attended by over 1,200 guests.

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