Monday, May 21, 2018

HERALDRY | Martlets

Under Worcester, that should be Crookes.
Consider a little footless bird on the arms of three colleges and one permanent private hall – three of them at Oxford and one at Cambridge.

The bird is the Martlet, which is important in heraldry. One reason is that it is a brisure, mark of cadency on a coat of arms indicating that it is being carried by a fourth son of the owner of the arms.

University College's shield shows four (on its website) or often five golden martlets around a cross on a blue (azure) field. The St Benet's shield includes an almost identical coat of arms on its top right (the sinister side in chief). The difference between the two crosses (Univ's is a cross patonce, while St Benet's is a cross fleury) is not significant, as both crosses have been used interchangeably in the posthumously attributed arms of Edward the Confessor. Edward was of course the last of the great Anglo-Saxon kings, whose death in 1066 precipitated a nine-month succession battle that culminated in the death of Harold Godwinson and victory of William, Duke of Normandy at Hastings. With the accession of William I, Norman nobles arrived with their knights and heraldry. Univ has claimed the arms attributed to Edward the Confessor, although the founding in 1249 was by William of Durham, long after Edward the Confessor. As the Univ website explains, "a legend grew up in the 1380s that we were actually founded even earlier, by King Alfred in 872, and, understandably enough, this became widely accepted as the truth." (The Univ martlets are a possible origin of the four martlets in the St Peter's College coat of arms.)

St Benet’s Hall seems to have more claim to the arms of Edward the Confessor than Univ because the Hall is a foundation of Ampleforth College [full disclosure: I was a pupil there in 1952-55], which was created by the same English Benedictines who occupied Westminster Abbey at its inception. When Edward the Confessor built the original Benedictine Abbey and Church, he decided that English monarchs should be crowned there [all but two subsequent monarchs have been]. The other half of the top of the shield (the chief) shows the imputed coat of arms of St Peter, to whom Westminster Abbey is dedicated; the bottom of the shield is from the original Abbey. Henry III built the Gothic Abbey Church in honor of Edward, who by then had been canonized.

Worcester College, represented by the other Oxford shield, has two chevrons and six martlets, which are blazoned as black (sable) or sometimes red (gules). The coat of arms is that of Sir Thomas Crookes [should be Crookes below the shield, as someone pointed out at the meeting at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, but I can't easily edit that any more], a Worcestershire baronet, whose bequest of £10,000 back in 1698, when a pound sterling was really worth something, founded the college. The Worcester College shield is almost always shown, as here, with black (sablemartlets, but the blazon often calls for red (gules) as in the Pembroke arms. [Sir Thomas also founded Bromsgrove School, which uses the arms with red (gules) martlets, corresponding to its blazon.]

All of the martlets in the Oxford coats of arms look the same, i.e., like swallows without feet. But Pembroke College, Cambridge has martlets that look different. They are streamlined. But they are meant to be the same bird, in that they have no feet. Pembroke was founded by Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, a man of importance in the reigns of Edwards I and II. The left side (dexter to the bearer) of the shield is half of his arms, which are split (impaled or dimidiated) with his wife Mary de St Pol, who came from Brittany. 

MEANING: So what does the martlet signify? All sources I have consulted agree that the lack of feet means that they can't land, so they are always aloft. This suggests that the martlets are always searching and is a good symbol for the search for knowledge. A lovely idea – although when you think about it, it makes the intellectual life sound tiring. (Tiring, but surely not as discouraging as the fates of Sisyphus or Tantalus.)

Another interpretation is that the martlet is a symbol of the self-made man, someone without foundation. But to impute such arms to a King like Edward the Confessor would hardly be appropriate with that interpretation, unless one was imputing modesty.

Link to the first use of this post: https://bit.ly/2qTCxnw

Sunday, May 20, 2018

HERALDRY | All Souls. (May 20, 2018)

All Souls College.
Blazon Or a chevron between three pierced cinquefoils gules.  Gold field, red chevron (upside-down V) separating three red five-petaled flowers, two above and one below.

Authority Granted or ancient arms [to specify]. 
~Burkes. 1884, 13.
~Brooke-Little. 1951.

Founded 1438. The College of All Souls of the Faithful Departed is the ninth-oldest college at Oxford. It was planned in 1436 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury In 1438 King Henry VI was added as co-founder. The foundation-stone was laid on St Scholastica's Day (10 February) 1438. In 1443, its first buildings were effectively complete and it received its final statutes, modelled on those of New College, of which Chichele had once been a Fellow.

Nominee The arms are those of the founder, Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414.

Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury
Meaning The chevron, a device used in the arms of 13 Oxford colleges, represents a rafter joining the top of the roof, symbolizing protection and shelter. The three cinquefoils (five-leaf flowers) are from the arms of Chichele and signify hope and joy. The cinquefoils should be pierced.[https://bit.ly/2JfJat1]

Where Arms Posted The arms may be seen on the wrought-iron gates of the college on Catte Street opposite the Radcliffe Camera, and in the front of the college on the High Street next to Catte Street.

Warden Sir John Vickers, elected 2008.

Special Features Uniquely at Oxford, all members of the College are Fellows. On St Hilary's Day (14 January) 2001, a once-in-a-hundred-year ceremony took place. After a commemorative feast, the Fellows of All Souls paraded around the College with flaming torches, singing the Mallard Song (also sung at Gaudies), led by a "Lord Mallard" carried in a chair. The Fellows ceremonially seek a mallard that by legend flew out of the foundations of the college when first built. The Lord Mallard is preceded by a man bearing a pole to which a mallard is tied – originally a live bird, then a dead one (1901), and most recently a wooden mallard totem (2001). Warden Richard Astley (regnat 1618-36), referred to the ceremony (in 1601?) as leading to "barbarously unbeseeming conduct" involving doors or gates. The ceremony occurred also on schedule in 1701 and 1801.

[Where Other Arms in the College Are Visible Through the college gates may be seen the arms of various donors to the college other than the founder, i.e., General William Steuart, 1st Viscount Simon, Henry Godolphin, and Marshall Bridges. Next to the college arms on the High Street are those of Henry VI, who was king at the time of the college’s foundation. The arms on the gateway next door are believed to be those of ? Kemp.]

HERALDRY | Wolfson. (May 21, 2018)

Wolfson College Arms.
Blazon Per pale Gules and Or on a chevron between three roses two pears all counterchanged the roses barbed and seeded proper. 

[From college website: ARMS: Per pale Gules and Or on a chevron between three roses two pears all counterchanged the roses barbed and seeded proper. CREST (in full achievement, not shown): On a wreath of the colours in front of a representation of an arch in Iffley Church two rods of Aesculapius in saltire proper surmounted by a torch or inflamed proper. MOTTO: Humani nil alienum.] [Aesculapius has one snake; Mercury has two.]

Authority College granted? Wolfson personal arms granted?

Nominee The college is named after Sir Isaac Wolfson and the college arms are similar to those of his personal arms, which he adopted upon being named a Baronet in 1962. In his obituary in the Daily Telegraph, he is cited as the first man since Jesus to have colleges named after him at both Oxford and Cambridge.

Meaning Sir Isaac was the son of an immigrant to Glasgow from Bialystock, the town made famous by Fiddler on the Roof. He built up Great Universal Stores to be the largest mail order company in Europe. He was made Baronet in 1962 and founded the graduate college in 1965. The pears are also in his personal arms, blazoned: Per pale dovetailed Vert and Or on a Chevron counterchanged between two Roses also Or and Gules respectively and in base an Ancient Hand Bell proper two Pears Sable and Or. Pears in heraldry commonly indicate the fruits of labor and peace; one source suggests it is for gratitude for the ending of World War II. (There are pears also in the Nuffield arms, but they are both black and are for the City of Worcester, birthplace of Lord Nuffield.) In the full achievement of arms, above the shield is a knightly helmet, and the crest above its red and yellow banded wreath symbolises the College’s origins and aspirations. The Norman arch of the west door of Iffley Church stands for Iffley College which Wolfson College took over. The crossed staffs with serpent represent the Greco-Roman god of healing for Sir Isaac’s gifts to medical research, and a yellow torch with natural-coloured flame represents the pursuit of knowledge. The Latin motto expresses the College’s ideal of intellectual curiosity, from the Roman playwright Terence: Homo sum; humani nil alienum a me puto.

Founded 1965 as Iffley College, Oxford. Sir Isaiah Berlin was invited to be the College's first President. Graduate students were first admitted in 1968. The buildings were opened in 1974. The College received its Royal Charter in 1981.

President Tim Hitchens, former Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit. Previously Director-General, Economic and Consular at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is a Cambridge graduate.

First President Sir Isaiah Berlin OM (1909–1997) was a learned man who tried never to used his wit as a hostile weapon. (When I was up, he told me once that he was “not a replier” meaning that he did not rise to the bait of a hostile published note.) He raised the large sums needed to build the College and to provide its endowment. He knew what kind of institution he wanted: Open and democratic; multicultural and multidisciplinary; and free of unnecessary hierarchy.  Born in Riga, he lived for part of his childhood in Russia, where he witnessed the 1917 Revolutions in Petrograd. He came to England in 1921 and referred to himself as a "Russian Jew". Famed as thinker, essayist and lecturer, he is also remembered as an inspiring tutor. He made significant contributions to the history of ideas, including nineteenth-century Russian thinkers to whom one of his books is devoted. His biography of Karl Marx is still read, and his 1958 lecture on “Two Concepts of Liberty” is required reading for many courses.

History In 1965, the University of Oxford founded Iffley College. Later the same year Sir Isaiah Berlin was invited to be the College's first President. Through his efforts, generous benefactions were received from the Wolfson Foundation and the Ford Foundation, which enabled the College to include graduate students. The first of these were admitted in October 1968. The College's buildings, designed by architects Powell and Moya, were ready for occupation in 1974 and the College received its Royal Charter in 1981.

Special Features Wolfson is the largest graduate college in the University of Oxford, with over 600 students and thriving research clusters. It is a diverse and engaged scholarly community. The College provides academic and pastoral support for 650 graduate students, recognised internationally as being of the highest standard. Students develop academically, advance their leadership qualities and communication skills and prepare to play full and effective roles in society. Early career support for developing academics is also provided.

Wolfson College has a dedicated archive with a variety of photographs, documents and other materials relating to the history of the College.

References 
John Penney and Roger Tomlin, Wolfson College Oxford – The First Fifty Years

Other references (online)
Isaiah Berlin Bio . Robbins Report
Iffley College founded . Creation of College: Ford £4.5m, Berlin President
First Junior Research Fellow elected . Laying of the Foundation Stone
First Summer VIIIs . First Wolfson lecture series . Royal Charter
First women's Summer VIIIs . Sir Henry Fisher becomes second President
Sir Raymond Hoffenberg becomes third President . Annual Berlin lecture created
Twenty-fifth anniversary of College . Sir David Smith becomes fourth President
Wolfson men win Christ Church Novice regatta . Sir Gareth Roberts fifth President

Professor Hermione Lee sixth President . Centenary of Sir Isaiah Berlin's birth

THE GREAT GATSBY | What His Days at Trinity Would Have Been Like

Ian Flintoff on what Gatsby would have found in 1919
 at Trinity College, Oxford – Gatsby's alleged alma mater.
The face is that of Princetonian F. Scott Fitzgerald. 
Ian Flintoff, Trinity Oxon. '57,  has written a sort-of Prequel to Jay Gatsby's putative time at Oxford in his recently published book Gatsby at Trinity.

The 120-page book takes you through Gatsby's time in France in the Great War and then his years at Oxford, arriving at Trinity College when the notorious Herbert Blakiston was President.

The book uses clues left by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, to reconstruct the time when Jay Gatsby would have been at Trinity.

We are introduced to the people Gatsby would have met at Oxford in about 1919. Flintoff consulted with Trinity's famed archivist, Clare Hopkins, to get the details just right.

The style is in Nick Carraway's voice. When I looked up the reviews, the Kindle version had five stars. Amazon also offers a peek at the book – the opening chapter. The Kindle version can be downloaded immediately and costs $3.99. You can order through Amazon or from the College or directly from the publisher. Instructions for ordering the printed book direct are at the end of this post.

About 50 years ago I spoke to a fellow alumnus of Trinity who was up in the post-Great War era when Blakiston headed the college. He said that when he came in for his beginning-of-term interview, Blakiston looked up from his notes and said: "I see you are an Amedican. ... Ek-chewalleh, I prefer South Africans."

My alumnus friend told me that he was flustered by the comment. What happened next is that Blakiston made clear that the beginning-of-term "interview" was over. This was voicelessly communicated, but the mode of dismissal reminds me of another famous Oxonian, who said to his students: "It is time for my tea. You will be wanting to leave." Fair enough.

Here is the review by Ian Senior, Trinity Oxon. '58, reposted by permission. The links don't work because I used a screenshot to capture the newsletter. I have retyped the link at the very end.


Here is the link retyped: ian.flintoff@trinity.oxon.org.

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

St John's Arms. Note
correct estoiles
and canton.
Blazon Gules on a Bordure Sable, eight Estoiles Or on a Canton Ermine, a Lion Rampant of the second in chief an Annulet of the third.  Brooke-Little.

Authority Granted to Sir Thomas White. Assumed by St John's.

Meaning Sir Thomas White had served as Lord Mayor of London. His arms as blazoned in The General Armory (Burkes) are exactly as used by St John's, although incorrect forms of the arms abound.

Issues Canton sometimes shown argent instead of ermine. Estoiles sometimes shown with straight arms. Annulet shown sometimes as a mark of cadency at the top of the shield below the bordure, and sometimes as a charge in the center of the shield. Bordure sometimes shown incorrectly.





Founded On 1 May 1555, Sir Thomas White obtained a Royal Patent of Foundation to create a charitable institution for the education of students within the University of Oxford.

Nominee The nominee of St John's College is St John the Baptist. He was selected because the founder was a Merchant Tailor and St John came to be the patron saint of tailors because he made his own garments. His garb is described in the Bible as that of the prophets, a rough camel's-hair outer garment, secured at the waist with a leather belt (Matt 3:4, Mark 1:6).

Example of poor heraldry.
No ermine in the canton.
Estoiles not wavy. Not
a bordure.
Founder Sir Thomas was a Roman Catholic. He intended that St John's would provide a source of educated Roman Catholic clerics to support the Counter-Reformation under Queen Mary. Edmund Campion, the Roman Catholic martyr, studied at St John's.

White was born in Reading, Berkshire, in 1492, son of a clothier. He was brought up in London and apprenticed, in 1504, to Hugh Acton, a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company. Acton left him £100 upon his death, enabling  Thomas to begin business for himself in 1523. He became master of the Merchant Taylor's Company c. 1535.

Within a decade he became Alderman of the City of London and contributed £300 to King Henry VIII for his war against Scotland. By 1547 he was Sheriff of London and sat on the commission for the trial of the Nine Day Queen, Lady Jane Grey, and her adherents. White’s loyalties lay with the Roman (Marian) side. His effective actions on behalf of Queen Mary I were repaid by his election as the Lord Mayor of London on 29 October, less than a month after being knighted by the Queen.

In 1555, inspired by the example of his friend and fellow Roman Catholic Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford, he obtained a royal license to found St. John's College, Oxford, which he endowed with £3,000 at his death. The College is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Merchant Tailors, and was established in the buildings of the dissolved Cistercian College of St Bernard. In 1559 he purchased Gloucester Hall, Oxford, which he opened a year later as a hall of residence for a hundred scholars.

In 1562 he suffered greatly from a recession in the cloth trade, but the provisions of his will were astutely managed by his executor, the Master of the Rolls, Sir William Cordell. The legacy was invested in land. He died on 12 February 1567 a poor man. He is buried in St. John's College chapel, and although twice married to Avicia (died 1558) and Joan he left no issue.

Several portraits of Sir Thomas White are in existence, but none was painted from life. The one in St. John's College is said to be similar to those belonging to the Merchant Taylors' Company, to Leicester and to nearly all the towns to which he left benefactions.

History Initially St John's College had a small endowment. White acquired buildings that had belonged to the former College of St Bernard, a dissolved Cistercian monastery and house of study. They were on the east side of St Giles’, north of Balliol and Trinity Colleges.

During the reign of Elizabeth I the fellows lectured narrowly in dialectic, Greek and rhetoric, and not directly in theology. During the twenty years after its foundation, additional gifts were made and St John's became well endowed with properties. In the second half of the nineteenth century it benefited from the development of the city of Oxford. The St John’s endowment today is said to be the largest of the Oxford colleges. For example, it owns the Oxford Playhouse building and the Millwall Football Club training ground.

The boathouse shared by St John's (R) and Corpus Christi (L) Boat Clubs.
As Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, White established a number of educational foundations that facilitated the flow of students from favored  schools to the College, in the same way that Winchester School was a feeder school for New College. Closed scholarships for students from the Merchant Taylors' School persisted until the late 20th century, and scholarships were also in place for students from five other schools.
With the failure of the Counter-Reformation, St John's became primarily a  producer of Anglican clergymen in the earlier period of its history. The College also gained a reputation for degrees in law, medicine and PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

Female students were first admitted in 1979, after more than four centuries of the college as an institution for men only. Elizabeth Fallaize was appointed as the first female fellow in 1990.

References (more to come)
http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/twhite.html

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 ch√Ęteau 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.

HERALDRY | St Hilda's~ (May 19, 2018)

St Hilda's
Blazon. Azure on a Fesse Or between in chief two Unicorn’s heads couped and in base a coiled Serpent Argent three Estoiles Gules. 

Authority. Granted 1960. [College website.] 

Nominee of College. Saint Hilda (sometimes spelled Hild) of Whitby, Yorkshire, England 614-680; feast day November 17, founder of Streaneshalch (later Whitby) Abbey and a prominent abbess. With Bishops Sts Colman of Lindisfarne and Cedd of the East Saxons, she led the Celtic party at the Synod of Whitby (663/664). She was entrusted with the upbringing of the King Oswiu’s daughter, St Aelfflaed. The King gave Hilda land on which she founded (c. 657) a monastery of monks and nuns at Streaneshalch that became a major religious centre. Among its members was Caedmon, the earliest English Christian poet. In 663/664 Streaneshalch hosted the Synod of Whitby, which settled the dispute over the date of Easter (Celtic or Roman). Hilda supported the Celtic date and opposed the Roman party led by Northumbrian Bishop St. Wilfrid. Unlike Colman, Hilda accepted Oswiu’s decision in favour of the Roman date.

Dorothea Beale
Meaning. St Hilda’s has three estoiles, correctly shown as wavy six-pointed stars. Clearly not a knight's spurs! The estoiles and two unicorns were used by the founder of St Hilda's, Dorothea Beale, a mathematician and suffragist. Although no evidence has been found of granted arms, many members of the Beale family have used arms incorporating estoiles and a unicorn's head. 

The silver coiled snake at the base of the coat of arms represents the name and reputation of St Hilda, who by legend successfully prayed to God to turn local snakes into stones (language is updated):
In that monastery of Whitby, there was such an abundance of serpents, in the thick bushes and wilderness of the woods, that the virgins durst not peep out of their Cells or go to draw water. But by her prayers she (Hilda) obtained of God, that they might be turned into stones, yet so as the shape of serpents still remained. Which to this day, the stones of that place do declare.
The College also still uses the earliest symbol of St Hilda's Hall, the ammonite fossil, consisting of whorled chambered shells, once supposed to be coiled snakes petrified.The use of the ammonite with the motto non frustra vixi or "I lived not in vain" has continued throughout St Hilda's history. When the College was incorporated in 1926 it could not afford a coat of arms, so a seal was designed by Edmund New, with a bookplate, note paper and blazer badge based upon it. This was the College emblem until the coat of arms was granted in 1960. The motto was not included in the grant of arms, but is occasionally used.

Principal: Since 2014–Professor Sir Gordon Duff.

History. Founded in 1893, St Hilda’s was the last of the women’s colleges established in Oxford to give women the right and opportunity to higher education. St Hilda’s College celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2018 and its 10th anniversary as a "mixed" college that accepts both male and female students.

In 2009, one year after the College had gone mixed, the College held a vote across the entire College community to establish whether the college's Senior Members should  be referred to in the plural as Alumnae or change to the more traditional masculine Alumni. Following the precedent set in 1979 by St Anne’s College, the majority voted to continue to use the feminine plural, both to honour its history and recognize that it will be many decades before the Senior Members’ community is equally split between men and women.

Dorothea Beale (1831-1906) was the Founder. She was formerly Principal of Cheltenham Ladies College. In 1892, she purchased Cowley House in Cowley Place, for ladies wishing to attend college lectures and the following year, 1893 the Hall, renamed St Hilda’s, opened with seven female students.

Previous Principals: 
1893–1910 Esther Burrows (1847–1935) served as Principal, which was at first strictly an administrative, not an academic role. 
1910–1919 Christine Burrows (1872–1959), formerly a student at Lady Margaret Hall, assisted her mother in the foundation of St Hilda's while still a student and became a tutor after completing her studies and then Principal.
1919–1928 Winifred Moberly (1875–1928), former scholar of Lady Margaret Hall, oversaw the move to the South Building, but her health deteriorated and she died less than a week after the move.  
1928–1955 Julia Mann (1891–1985), after studying at Somerville and the London School of Economics, ran the College during her predecessor's illness and was soon elected Principal. She oversaw considerable growth at St. Hilda's, and was herself a benefactor.
1955–1965 Kathleen Major (1906–2000) was elected President of the JCR as an undergraduate. She went on to be Librarian and Lecturer at the College. As Principal she improved the administrative systems of the College and presided over a major building programme. 
 1965–1980 Mary Bennett (1913–2005), the first Principal with a husband, John, broke new ground, encouraging students in the Lodgings and leading the musical life of the College. 
1980–1990 Mary Moore (1930–2017), after reading History at Lady Margaret Hall, made her early career in the diplomatic service, from which she was obliged to resign when she married fellow-diplomat A.R. Moore in 1963. Mary became Principal in 1980, and she and her husband, Tony, presided over a sociable era in the Principal's Lodgings. Although the centenary of the College in 1993 fell during her successor's time as Principal, Mary helped raise more than £2 million.
1990–2001 Elizabeth Llewellyn-Smith 
2001–2007 Lady English 
2007–2014 Sheila Forbes