Wednesday, April 18, 2018

OXFORD & CAMBRIDGE COLLEGES' ARMS: Two Talks in London

L to R: Your blogger (Trinity, Oxon.) and Cheryl-Lisa Hearne-
McGuiness, Hon. Sec. of the Oxford University Society's London
Branch. Photo by branding expert Paul Walton (Jesus, Oxon.).
Oxford, U.K., Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Yesterday, and the day before, Alice and I were staying at the fine Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.

On Monday I spoke to 70 members of the Oxford University Society, London Branch, about the 38 coats of arms of the Oxford colleges and the six Permanent Private Halls.

On Tuesday I was speaker at a "Discussion Supper" of the Oxford and Cambridge Club and I added in most of the 31 Cambridge colleges.

My objective was to make the college coats of arms more accessible to students, alumni, tourists and anyone else curious about Oxford and Cambridge.

Avoiding the baggage of the usual list of the tinctures, furs, metals, ordinaries, subordinaries and so forth, I also dispensed with an explanation of the history of arms, how they were brought over by the Normans with William the Conqueror and became widespread through the growth of tournaments among the knights in the 12th century, etc.

Instead, I dove right in to the Oxford (and Cambridge) coats of arms by selecting two or more college shields at a time that have a device in common, such as a cross or a species of bird (big or small).

I used each set of shields as a prompt to tell stories about how the devices relate to the history of the colleges. Along the way I slipped in a few comments about relevant heraldic conventions.

To illustrate my approach, 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 because it is a brisure, a mark of cadency on a coat of arms indicating that it is being carried by a fourth son of the owner of the arms. The discussion below is amplified, and a few references added, from my remarks yesterday.
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 Anglo-Saxon kings, whose death in 1066 precipitated a war of succession that culminated in William I's victory, the influx of French nobles and knights, and the advent of English heraldry. Univ has claimed the arms imputed 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 the original Westminster Abbey. When Edward the Confessor built the original Benedictine Abbey and Church, he decided that English monarchs should be crowned there [all but two subsequent monarch 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.

Pembroke College, Cambridge is the owner of the third shield. The five red (gules) martlets look dissimilar from the martlets in the previous two shields, 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.

Worcester College, represented by the fourth 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 Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, whose bequest 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.] 

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. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

NYC DINNER: 85th Annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner

The Program, Thursday, April 5, University Club (click on each page to enlarge)



Photos of the 2018 NYC Dinner, via Cambridge in America

Stephen Hawking at 21
Moment of Silence for Professor Stephen Hawking
John Tepper Marlin, Trinity College, Oxford 

It is an honor to rise in memory of Stephen Hawking, who died three weeks ago at 76 years of age. He was born in Oxford, because his parents believed that even Hitler would not bomb Oxford… which turned out to have been true. 

Soon after his 21st birthday, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, known in this country as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was given few years to live. He actually lived for 55 more years, and became the Number One Celebrity Scientist as well as the Poster Child for battling disease and disability. He wrote a book called “A Brief History of Time” that sold 25 million copies.

He set out to finish Einstein’s quest for a general theory of everything. He wanted to understand the universe, “why it is as it is and why it exists at all,” and he focused on Black Holes.

Hawking as Cox of the Univ 2nd Eight
Hawking’s life revolved around Oxford and Cambridge. At Oxford, he coxed the Univ 2nd Eight, and reportedly steered with as little effort or propriety as he studied physics and chemistry. Getting into the water-borne shell helped him get out of his own. At Cambridge, he taught for more than 50 years. He said: "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

Hawking also said: "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special."

Ladies and gentlemen, may we have a minute of silence in memory of this very special inspirational force, Stephen Hawking, whose happiest moments might have been in the stern of the Univ 2nd eight. (284 words, 2 minutes)

Other Posts on Stephen Hawking
Obituaries

The Committee
Committee (R to L): Dhaval Patel (MC), Hervé Gouraige (Chair), John Tepper Marlin,
Lee Li, Andrew Cunningham, Daniel Vasquez Sally Fan, Jack Carlson, Cassie
Llewellyn-Smith, Seth Lesser.


The Newark Boys Chorus

Previous Boat Race Dinners
2017 2016 2015 2014 & Earlier . History of the Boat Race

Alumni Boat Races and Other Reunions
Boat Races 2017 .  Branches Reunion 2012

Other Events
Talk on Oxford Colleges' Coats of Arms,  Oxford-Cambridge Club, April 16, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

BLOG VIEWS: 250K, Top 10 in March

This blog has just passed the 250,000-views mark. Thank you for reading. The views of all of the blogs I maintain is over two million.

The most-read post over the lifetime of the blog is the second one below, on Hitler's not having bombed Oxford.

That was a reason that the late Stephen Hawking (see memorial comments below) advanced, at the opening of his book of essays (Black Holes and Baby Universes, 1994), for his parents' having moved from London to Oxford just before he was born. He said:  
I was born in Oxford, even though my parents were living in London. This was because Oxford was a good place to be born during World War II: The Germans had an agreement that they would not bomb Oxford and Cambridge, in return for the British not bombing Heidelberg and Göttingen.
Here are the ten most-read posts in this blog during the past month.

Entry
ARMS: Lincoln College, Oxford (Updated March 28, 2018)
Apr 9, 2017
HITLER: Why Didn't He Bomb Oxford? (25K Views, Mar...
Jun 8, 2013, 3 comments
OXFORD IN FICTION: Top Six Fictional Colleges (Upd...
Jul 2, 2016
NEWARK BOYS CHORUS | Will Sing on April 5, 2018
Mar 18, 2018
HERALDRY: OXFORD SUPERLINK
Nov 22, 2015
OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE DINNER | New York City's 85th, April 5, 2018
Mar 15, 2018
BIRTHDAYS | Oxonians, April 2018
Mar 17, 2018
STEPHEN HAWKING, R.I.P. | Selected Obituaries, Lin...
Mar 15, 2018
COLLEGE ARMS: Oxford Shop (Updated Sept. 24, 2016)...
May 13, 2016
COATS OF ARMS | Talk to OUS London on Monday, April 5, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

COATS OF ARMS | Talk to OUS London on April 16, 2018


THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY SOCIETY

LONDON BRANCH

Coats of Arms of the Oxford Colleges
by
John Tepper Marlin
on
Monday 16th April 2018
at
The Oxford and Cambridge Club, Pall Mall

Dear OUS-London member,   
  
JT Marlin’s fascination with coats of arms started when he was sent to Ampleforth College and took his meals in a Yorkshire castle dining room surrounded by marvellous stained-glass windows featuring these curious shields with stylized symbols and fantastical creatures. It has remained a life-long interest.

John has been in the business of writing since a student at Harvard, where in 1961 he wrote and edited the first edition of The Let's Go Guide to Europe. He read PPE at Trinity, Oxford, and whilst earning a Ph.D. in economics in the US, he served as a Federal Government economist in Washington, D.C. and then was appointed Chief Economist for the New York City Comptroller. Heading the Council on Municipal Performance for 20 years, he wrote eight books comparing U.S. and international cities. He is now a full-time writer on historical subjects.

In 2015, John wrote an article on coats of arms for the alumni publication Oxford Today which attracted valuable comment and insight from readers. Based on the feedback and further research, he commenced work on a new book investigating, explaining and illustrating college coats of arms. 

This evening John will delve into the coats of arms of our Oxford colleges, drawing comparisons between paired coats of arms, highlighting examples of shared heritage, some interesting curiosities and the key to understanding their symbolism and conventions.  

We very much hope that you will be able to join us in the suitably august and stately surrounds of the Oxford and Cambridge Club. Following the talk, drinks and canapés will be served providing the customary OUS-London opportunity to meet with fellow alumni and guests. Your non-Oxonian friends and family are welcome.
Coats of Arms of the Oxford Colleges
Monday 16th April 2018
Tickets : £35      6:30pm : Arrival  7:00pm : Talk followed by Reception  Dress : Lounge Suit

PLEASE NOTE    1) In the event that your application is unsuccessful, please enclose a S.A.E. IF YOU REQUIRE NOTIFICATION that you will NOT be receiving tickets, and for return of your cheque (otherwise cheques will be destroyed).
2) Sorry, refunds cannot be made after the closing date (April 9).
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PLEASE COMPLETE  &  RETURN THE BELOW APPLICATION FORM c/o Cheryl-Lisa Hearne-McGuiness,  PO Box 44137, London,  SW6 4WH. ( Tel : 07976 706152 )
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PLEASE NOTE : E-TICKETS will be E-mailed by the 10th April 2018
** CLOSING DATE for APPLICATIONS  -  MONDAY 9th April  **
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name   ________________________   College ______________________Year _________
E-mail  ___________________________________________________________  
Address  _________________________________________________________________________
Telephone No  ___________________________  (please provide in case of ticket emergencies!)
Please send me …………….…. tickets at £35 each for Oxford Colleges - Coats of Arms on 16th April 2018
I enclose a cheque for £……, made payable to   “Oxford University Society – London Branch”.
My guest(s) will be : (use below/ separate sheet for additional guest details)

First Name …………… Last Name ……...….........…..  [College …….……..… Year …..…... ]                

First Name …………..... Last Name …….….....…...… [College …….……...... Year …..….... ] 

For a taste of the issues: Heraldry, Oxford Superlink.     

Sunday, March 18, 2018

NEWARK BOYS CHORUS | Will Sing on April 5

Newark Boys Chorus, 2018
The Newark Boys Chorus (NBC) will sing at the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner in New York City on April 5.

Here is a YouTube sample of their singing back in 2009. The Chorus is trained at its School (NBCS).

The tradition of starting a Boat Race Dinner with the American and British national anthems was begun at the Washington, D.C. dinner (the only one that competes in size with that of the New York City dinner), and is now a fixture. 

The NBC team will sing one other song besides the two anthems.

More details on the dinner, including a link to registration, are here.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BIRTHDAYS | Oxonians, March 2018


85th New York City Boat Race Dinner, April 5, 2018.

01 John Tepper Marlin (Trinity), 1942 😉
02 Dr Seuss (Lincoln), 1904
11 Rupert Murdoch, 1931
14 Stephen Hawking (Univ), death, 2018 (born in April)
24 William Morris (Exeter), 1834
26 Robert Frost, 1926
26 A. E. Housman, 1859
31 Rachel Maddow (Lincoln), 1973

Other Months: February . January
Year's worth of birthdays (in process of being compiled)
To add a name, write to the compiler – jtmarlin@post.harvard.edu.

BIRTHDAYS | Oxonians, April 2018



03 Jane Goodall, 1934
05 NYC Boat Race Dinner, University Club
13 Frederick Lord North (Trinity), 1732
13 Christopher Hitchens, 1949
14 Michael Maclagan (Ch.Ch. and Trinity), 1914
April 23. St George's
Day
15 Emma Watson, 1990
15 Joseph Lister, 1827
19 Dudley Moore, 1935
23 St George's Day
28 Harper Lee, 1926
28 Elena Kagan, 1960

March .  February . January
Year's Worth of Birthdays
To add a name, write to the compiler – jtmarlin@post.harvard.edu.
Heraldry, Oxford index.