Friday, August 11, 2017

BIRTH: Laurence Binyon, Who Wrote "For the Fallen"

Laurence Binyon
August 11, 2017 – Today is the birthday of poet and playwright Laurence Binyon, born to a Quaker family in Lancaster, England in 1869.  His 150th birthday will be in 2019.

Binyon studied at St Paul's School, London and came up to Trinity College, Oxford as a Scholar in 1888. He read Classics and published his first book of poems as an undergraduate. He won the Newdigate Prize for poetry in 1891.

His first job after taking his degree in 1893 was working for the Department of Printed Books of the British Museum, writing catalogues for the museum and art monographs. His first book, Dutch Etchers of the Seventeenth Century, was published in 1895. In 1913, he was made the Keeper of the new Sub-Department of Oriental Prints and Drawings.

During the pre-war period in London, he helped form Modernism by bringing East Asian visual art and literature to young Imagist poets such as Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington and H.D.  His group, which often met at the Wiener Café, included Edmund Dulac, Lucien Pissarro, Charles Ricketts, Sir William Rothenstein, and Walter Sickert.

On the death of the Poet Laureate Alfred Austin, in 1913, Binyon was among those mentioned as a likely successor, along with Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and John Masefield. Robert Bridges was the winner of the position.

Moved by the high number of casualties of the British Expeditionary Force in the Great War, in 1914 Laurence Binyon wrote "For the Fallen" when he was visiting the cliffs on the north Cornwall coast. Binyon knew Flanders well and was deeply affected by the losses suffered in the early weeks of the Great War. Written only a surprisingly few weeks after the conflict started, "For the Fallen" was published in The Times on September 21, 1914. His prescient words had an immediate impact on the nation’s feelings about the war, as when the poem was published, Britain was mourning its losses in the Battle of Marne. Unfortunately these feelings did not halt the carnage in the trenches.

Within the poem is the "Ode of Remembrance" – an excerpt from the poem,  either the third and fourth stanzas (out of the seven stanzas in the poem) or simply the fourth, starting "They shall grow not old...". Today, "For the Fallen" or the shorter "Ode" is often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK; at Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and Remembrance Day services in Canada:
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe. 
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
At centennial remembrances of World War I in 2016, Professor Michael Alexander (Trinity, Oxford 1959), former Berry Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, spoke about Binyon.  He noted that Binyon retired from the British Museum in 1933, and the same year was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity. Pinyon continued writing and lecturing; in 1939 he delivered the Romanes Lectures, on "Art and Freedom". He died in 1943 at 73. His excellent presentation, which elucidates classical references in Binyon's poems, starts on page 29 of the Trinity College Report.

Poetry Foundation biography

Saturday, August 5, 2017

LIBRARIES: World's Greatest

Duke Humfrey's Library, the oldest Reading Room
 at the Bodleian, in Oxford.
What are the greatest libraries in the world?

The head of the Bodleian at Oxford once said in a speech I attended that the five greatest libraries are in New York City (the New York Public Library), Washington, D.C. (the Library of Congress), London (the British Library), Oxford (the Bodleian), and Paris (the Bibliothèque Nationale). I have library cards for all five of these libraries.👍

Size. Wikipedia says, and I dispute, that the NY Public Library's 53 million books rank it the third-largest cataloged collection in the world after the Library of Congress (more than 160 million items) and the British Library (more than 150 million items). 

If Archives Canada in Ottawa is correctly listed as having 54 million volumes or items, then Ottawa ranks third and NYPL only fourth in the world in collection size – still not shabby for the NYPL. Russia (Moscow Library) is at 44 million items and France (Bibliothèque National) has 40 million items and therefore ranks 6th.

A spokesperson at the Library of Congress told me when I visited in 2016 that libraries disagree on how to count items other than book volumes. The British Library allegedly counts some individual stamps as items equivalent to a book, whereas the Library of Congress combines stamps into albums.

Usability. I would rank the Weston Library, the main reading room of the Bodleian, as the most accessible, followed by the NY Public Library main building, behind the two lions ( The NY Public Library is surely the most used, with annual visitors of 10-18 million (depending on how you count). In second place, at 1.7 million people per year, are the British Library and Library of Congress.

To my mind there is no question that the Bibliothèque Nationale is the most difficult of the five greatest libraries to use, certainly for someone pressed for time. The first day at this library is consumed by paperwork and walking from place to place through fortress-like gates and passageways. It may have just been my bad luck, but I don't think so. have commented on this (

Most Beautiful. Two sites seem to focus on the sheer beauty of the libraries. One list is at, which posts a list of great libraries of the world ( in the hope that you will book a tour of them! Two of the libraries on their list are among the great libraries of the world I have listed above, the Bodleian and the New York Public Library. The three World-Class Libraries that are missing from their list are the Library of Congress (oversight!), the British Library (oversight!) and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

The other list of the most beautiful libraries is by a Huffington Post writer ( It includes only one of the five great world-class libraries, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which is (yes) a great collection, but, as I have noted, can be a nightmare to try to use. So I take it that this list is for looking at the architecture and not the contents.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

HONG KONG | 20 Years After the British Departed

Chris Patten, the Last Governor of Hong Kong,
20 years ago.
July 1, 2017—On this day in 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Charles, plus Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The 28th British Governor presided over the taking down of the Union Jack at midnight. He was Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes and Chancellor of Oxford University.

The original unfurling of the British flag was not peaceful. In 1839, Britain invaded China and occupied Hong Kong, then a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. Two years later, China ceded the island to the British in the Convention of Chuenpi. The year after that, the Treaty of Nanking ended the First Opium War.

Lord Patten of Barnes.
Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking.

In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system.

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, announced a policy based on the concept of “one country, two systems,” to preserve Hong Kong’s role as a capitalist center in Asia.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

VIEWS: 220K. Top 10 Most-Read Posts

Keep calm and read my blog.

Thank you for reading my Oxford blog. 

As of June 25, 2017 it has had more than 220,000 page views (two million views for all my blogs).

More than 10% of the Oxford blog views were directed at one post, which seeks answers to the question: "Why Didn't Hitler Bomb Oxford?"

The subjects of the other nine posts were: boat races, heraldry, biographies/obits and Oxford colleges in fiction. Please keep reading and send comments to

HITLER: Why Didn't He Bomb Oxford? (23K Views, Jun...
Jun 8, 2013, 3 comments
OXFORD IN FICTION: Top Six Fictional Colleges (Upd...
Jul 2, 2016
SUMMER EIGHTS: May 19-27, 2017
Jan 31, 2017
HERALDRY: Oxford Stars (Updated Feb. 24, 2017)
Nov 21, 2014, 2 comments
BOAT RACE: Dinners 2015
Mar 1, 2015
THERESA MAY: Time at Oxford (Updated Oct. 29, 2016...
Jul 27, 2016
R.I.P.: July 11–Oxonian John Brademas, NYU Preside...
Jul 25, 2016
BRITISH PMs: Universities Attended (Updated Aug. 1...
Jul 14, 2016
HERALDRY: Douglas, Moray, de Vere (Updated Mar 24,...
Nov 23, 2014, 2 comments
10 R.I.P.: Geoffrey Hill, Oxford Poet
Jul 2, 2016

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ARMS: Jesus College, Oxford

Jesus College Coat of Arms
Blazon: Vert three stags trippant argent attired or. The JCR website has the arms displayed correctly according to this blazon, except for one thing. "Attired" refers to the antlers only. The golden hooves are not in the blazon, which for that should include the words "and unguled" (hooved) before the last word, or.

Nominee. The coat of arms, in some form, belongs to Bishop Thomas Rotherham. It matches the arms in Rotherham's dining-hall portrait in neighboring Lincoln College, which he is credited with founding.  The Lincoln College coat of arms includes the three stags in the sinister section of its tripartite-in-pale shield. In the absence of evidence that Rotherham founded Jesus College, Oxford, the puzzle is: What are Rotherham's three attired stags doing up there adorning Jesus College?

Founder. Jesus College was in fact founded in 1571 by Elizabeth I, who issued a royal charter to that effect. It was the first Protestant college founded at Oxford, and the only one dating from Elizabeth's reign. Its full name is: "Jesus College in the University of Oxford of Queen Elizabeth's Foundation."

Origin of the Jesus Arms.  The earliest depiction of the Jesus arms is believed to be about 1590, in a document held by the College of Arms, referring to the stags as having a blue (azure) field, but Peter Donoghue, Bluemantle Pursuivant, reports the arms were more likely added 90 years later, on John Speed’s 1605 Map of Oxfordshire, with a blue field. The green field first appeared in 1619 in an armorial quarry painted by one of the Van Linge brothers, and was generally used by 1730, although horizontal hatchings (indicating azure) were still used on college bookplates as late as 1761. Here are the theories:
  • It has been claimed that Jesus "stole" the three stags from Lincoln, much as a series of Trinity men from the Eldon family have feasted on deer from the Magdalen College deer park. The counter-argument is that the origins of the two Rotherham arms are distinct. Former Lincoln College Rector Paul Langford has suggested that Jesus College continued the arms adopted by a theological college founded by Rotherham in his home town – Jesus College, Rotherham – which had been suppressed in the time of Edward VI. This does not explain what Rotherham contributed to the founding of Jesus College, Oxford other than leasing out a building to the College for a fee. 
  • Another theory is that the stags derive from the arms of Maud Green, Lady Parr, mother of Catherine Parr, last of the six wives of Henry VIII and stepmother to Elizabeth I, the Founder. 
  • The most likely story is that the arms of the College are indeed those of Bishop Rotherham, and were assigned to Jesus College by mistake, when John Speed prepared his famed map of Oxford. Speed must have seen the arms on Lawrence Hall, Ship Street, which was given to Rotherham in 1476 and was leased to Jesus College in 1572. Speed must have taken the landlord's arms to be those of the College when drawing his map in 1605, a quarter-century after the arms of Lincoln College were confirmed by Lee, Portcullis Pursuivant.
Anecdotes. Lincoln and Jesus are neighbors on Turl Street ("the Turl"), of which the joke is often told: "Q. How is the Church of England like the Turl?" "A. It runs from the High to the Broad and it has Jesus." An American tourist is said to have entered Jesus College after the Civil War and asked the porter: "Say, is this Lincoln?" To which the porter replied: "You aren't the first person, sir, to confuse Lincoln with Jesus."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SUMMER VIIIS: Oxford College Boat Club Dinners

I received the following note from the President of the Trinity College Boat Club, as an alumnus of the college.

Other college boat clubs have dinners that night. Your college link is probably located here. What to wear to a Boat Club Dinner?

Dear All,

The Annual Boat Club Dinner is on the Saturday of Summer VIIIs, 27 May. The deadline for responses is Friday, 19 May.

If you would like to attend, please reply to the Club’s secretary, Emily Davenport ( A booking form can be found here.

I very much hope to see you then.

Best wishes,

Rob Jones 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

BIRTH | May 4: Horace Mann, Advocate for Public Education

May 4, 2017—This day was born in 1796 Horace Mann, is called the father of American public education. He said:
"Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge." 
Born in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1796, he grew up poor, but he made full use of the local library founded by his town's namesake, Benjamin Franklin. 

Brown University accepted him as a sophomore at 20 years of age. He graduated in three years and was named  class valedictorian.

Elected to the state legislature in 1827, he was appointed secretary of the State's Board of Education when Massachusetts created it in 1837. He used the position, which had little budget attached, to inspect every school in the state and publish annual reports advocating a common school education,  i.e., a basic tax-funded education for all children. He established the concept of a "normal" state school, taking on those who believed all schools should have a religious orientation.

Elected to the U.S. Congress in 1848, after the death of John Quincy Adams, he spoke out in Congress against slavery, and wrote in a letter:
"I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion in the South. But it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the Union is a rope of sand or a band of steel."
When he left politics, he moved to Ohio to become president of Antioch College. He told a graduating class, two years before his death:
"I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words. Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

WW2: Baedeker Raids Start, Apr 23, 1942

Target Handbook for
 the Baedeker Raids, 1942.
Apr 23, 2017—This day in 1942 Germans began their “Baedeker Raids” on England, bombing several medieval cities. Almost 1,000 English civilians were killed in the bombing attacks.

Unlike the earlier bombings of English cities in 1940-41, which were strategic, to kill civilians and destroy buildings to weaken  the English public's will to fight with Germany, the April-June 1942 bombings of cities were targeted at historic cities. They were a retaliation for the RAF raid on the German port of Lübeck on March 28, when 234 British bombers destroyed 2,000 buildings, killed 312 civilians and left 15,000 Lübeck residents homeless.

In reprisal, the Luftwaffe attacked English cathedral cities. The Germans called their air attacks “Baedeker Raids” for the German publisher of its famed tourist guidebooks. Exeter was the first city to be attacked. Much of the city was damaged and 70 people were killed. Baron Gustav Braun von Sturm of the Luftwaffe said: “’We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide." The task was given to Luftflotte 3.

Exeter was bombed again twice in the next fortnight. Bath was attacked April 25 and 26, York on April 28 resulting in the destruction of 15th-century Guildhall, and Norwich on April 27 and 29. The RAF then launched a "1000 Bomber" raid on Cologne (Köln). The Luftwaffe responded by targeting Canterbury, which was bombed on May 31, June 2 and June 6. It was reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi's statement: "An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind."

Despite the tit-for-tat vandalism, Oxford and Cambridge were spared. Oxford is on any three-star list in England. Dr Malcolm Graham, Head of Oxfordshire Studies at Westgate Library, in his book Oxfordshire At War, says that Oxford's escape from Baedeker raids "has never been satisfactorily explained."

Oxford had been one of the cities included in the invasion plans for 1940, which included only central Oxford, not the farther-out Morris Radiators factory on Woodstock Road or the Cowley works. A squadron of Heinkel III bombers was reportedly on its way to obliterate Morris Radiators and probably Cowley on August 30, 1940. It was attacked by RAF fighters and turned back, and no second attempt to bomb Cowley was tried.

See also: Why didn't Hitler bomb Oxford?

Friday, April 21, 2017

NEW YORK: 2017 Boat Race Dinner

The New York City Boat Race Dinner was held for the first time ever at the Cosmopolitan Club on East 66th Street in NYC. The venue and food and wine (esp. the La Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc) were highly appreciated.
Below the program are the versions of their speeches by speakers who have sent them to me.

Toast to the Queen

Introduction by John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford):  Bennett Freeman earned a summa cum laude degree in history from Berkeley, following which he was awarded a Churchill Scholarship from the English-Speaking Union to read history at Balliol.

After Oxford, Bennett worked for Walter Mondale and from there spent eight years as manager of corporate affairs for General Electric. Bill Clinton swept him into the State Department where for four years he worked on human rights, developing a standard for oil and mining industries, and helping to recover millions of dollars for the families of Holocaust victims.

In the next nine years of his life he was senior vice president of Calvert Investments, the largest source of socially responsible mutual funds. Ladies and gentlemen, Bennett Freeman.

Bennett Freeman (Balliol, Oxford): Thanks to my friend John Tepper Marlin for that generous introduction. I’ve known John — and his wife Alice Tepper Marlin — for three decades and have had the privilege of learning from them over the years as a fellow traveler in the world of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

Our remarks this evening can’t be political and mine certainly won’t be.  But I can’t resist noting that the General Election has just been called and wondering if the Prime Minister is taking a risk by asking the British electorate to vote for May… in June.

Our two great ancient universities have instilled in us a respect for tradition as well as for innovation in a time of disruption.  And our time in Great Britain — whether it is our country or not — has instilled in us a respect for the institutions and the individuals that anchor that tradition.

Since Victoria queens and kings have reigned rather than ruled. But this Queen commands our singular respect.  Walter Bagehot famously observed of the monarchy that “Its mystery is its life” and advised that “we must not let in daylight upon magic.”

Yet Queen Elizabeth has let in the daylight to reveal that her magic is not mysterious but almost comprehensible — even though her durability is nothing less than supernatural.

Her decency and probity are the virtues that will sustain us in this era of uncertainty and insecurity. Her wisdom and her discretion give her a quiet authority to which we can all aspire whatever our cause, our work or our walk of life.

Please join me in being upstanding…

The Queen!

Other 2017 Boat Race News . College VIIIs . Summer VIIIs Dinners 2017

ALUMNI RACES: Philadelphia, Apr 2017

REPORT SENT BY JOHN V. QUINN, Oxford & Cambridge Society of Philadelphia.
Vesper Boat Club

It's been over 30 years since The Alumni Boat Races were last held in Philadelphia and that streak almost continued.

Sunday, April 2nd was a gorgeous spring day filled with blue skies, sunshine and a pleasant breeze. Unfortunately, it was not as tranquil and picturesque on the Schuylkill River as high water, floating logs and flood conditions concerned our race officials.  

Christopher Blackwall masterfully rearranged the schedule of races to accommodate Mother Nature.  In the end, prudence dictated that the college boat races be cancelled so we were able to run only 2 of the 5 scheduled races with only the most experienced rowers participating. Our races proved to be a foreshadowing of the results to come in The Boat Races. The Vesper ladies eight (Cambridge designee) crew prevailed and in the men’s race the Oxford Varsity (alumni blue) boat was victorious. 

Here’s how Gardner Cadwalader, the captain of the Cambridge crew, recounted the Varsity Race:
“The Varsity Race became a three boat race between Oxford and Cambridge and the University Barge Club's experienced Master's eight whose race had been cancelled. Floating starts in very fast waters were made for debate at the pub afterwards and the unique start that day guaranteed a few subsequent verbal thrusts and parries among the friends. We shall say no more about that. However, the gentlemen and lady of Cambridge raced brilliantly and did set a new record. The gentleman of Oxford raced much more brilliantly we admit, and came in a solid first place, showing the fine focus and fitness which the other boats have had on days a while ago. The gentlemen of the University Barge Club split their UK loyalties with the diplomacy and hospitality for which UBC is renown by coming in second. This strategy allowed the dark blue guest crew to win first place and the light blue guest crew to set a new record. The record is a first in Oxford Cambridge races by Cambridge having coming in a solid third. Never done before and will never be done again.” 
To our knowledge, we were the only alumni society in the world that held alumni races on the day of The Boat Races – quite a distinction.  I'm pleased to say that two of the founders of that race were instrumental in the races resurgence, namely, Christopher Blackwall (Oxford) and Gardner Cadwalader (Cambridge).  

After the races, everyone retired to Vesper Boat Club for the viewing party of the 2017 Cancer Research UK Boat Races in London. Rich in history and tradition, Vesper is one of the most celebrated boat clubs in the country and the world and was an ideal venue to watch The Boat Races. Attendees watched on two TVs, one in the large bar area and the other on a giant projector screen.  We had a wide variety of alumni and guests, from recent graduates to, let me say, not so recent and many in between with families and lots of children running about.  The capacity crowd enjoyed the festive environment and had a fun time cheering on their favorite blue.

I think I speak for everyone involved when I say the event exceeded our expectations.  We thought we might have 30 to 40 rowers register to row for our races and we actually had over 70.  There was a wide range of ages and sizes with experience ranging from former college rowers to Blues to World Champions to Olympians.  In fact, we had 8 Blues race-5 from Oxford and 3 from Cambridge (see crew listings below).  We were planning on 75 to 100 people attending the viewing party when in fact we sold over 150 tickets and that didn’t include all the children.  It was quite a gathering.

Putting together a regatta, no matter the size, is no small accomplishment and fortunately, we had a very experienced Steering Committee who handled it brilliantly as well as wonderful sponsors.  I want to thank the Committee for its time, effort and dedication, it was a true team effort.  I would like to extend a special thank you to the following individuals (in no particular order): 

Christopher Blackwall (Oxford) and James Hill (Cambridge) who did a superb job of planning, scheduling, logistics, recruiting linesman, referees and coxes, procuring equipment etc.;  the captains, Gardner Cadwalader, 1972 Cambridge Blue, and Mike Wherley, 2008 Oxford Blue, who both did a great job recruiting, organizing and selecting the crews; John-David Franklin (Oxford) who helped form the committee, was involved in many of the facets mentioned above and sponsored us at Vesper Boat Club; Bonnie Mueller (Oxford) Secretary of the Schuylkill Navy whose assistance was invaluable; and to Josh Mooney (Cambridge) whose efforts and guidance were much appreciated.  

Also thanks to:  University Barge Club, Undine  Barge Club, Penn Athletic Club Rowing Association and the University of Pennsylvania.

Other 2017 Boat Race Events in USA and Canada

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ARMS: Lincoln College, Oxford (Updated May 6, 2017)

The three-part Lincoln arms: Bishops
Fleming and Rotherham flank
the arms of the See of Lincoln.
In this version the stags are statant.
Blazon: Tierced per pale (1) Barry of six argent and azure in chief three lozenges gules on the second bar of argent a mullet pierced sable (2) Argent thereon an escutcheon of the arms of the See of Lincoln gules two lions passant guardant in pale or on a chief azure the Blessed Virgin Mary ducally crowned seated on a throne issuant from the chief on her dexter arm the infant Jesus and holding in her sinister hand a scepter or the escutcheon ensigned with a mitre proper azure garnished and stringed or (3) Vert three stags statant argent attired or. This form of the blazon is from the Visitation by the College of Arms of 1574 (Coll. Arms H6.14), discussed below.

Nominees: Each of the three arms combined in this unusually tierced per pale (divided vertically into three parts) shield refers to each of the nominees. (1) The arms of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, who founded the College in 1427. (2) The arms of the See of Lincoln (not the Cathedral, as it is listed in some places). The corporate designation of the College is "The Warden or Rector and Scholars of the College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln, in the University of Oxford, commonly called Lincoln College."(3) The arms of Thomas Rotherham (also known as Scot de Rotherham), Bishop of Lincoln, and later Archbishop of York and Lord High Chancellor of England, who re-endowed the College in 1478.

 1. Left, mullet is not pierced. 2. At top,
miter is shown from an angle. 3. Right,
in another version, used by Jesus
 College, the stags are argent, not or.

Authorities: The Lincoln coat of arms was confirmed in 1574 by Richard Lee, Portcullis Pursuivant, on a Visitation to  the University. He caused some subsequent controversy by his "boldness" in aggressively confirming the Lincoln arms (Landon, 1893, p. 156, cited by Clark, 1895, p. 334). The Lincoln College accounts show Lee received 20 shillings for his hard, if arguably misguided, work. The arms were confirmed by three subsequent heraldic visitations. Nonetheless, the arms have been displayed inconsistently. The 1574 blazon shows the stags statant (all four legs on the ground), whereas the Rotherham's authenticated portrait shows them trippant (with one front leg up)It is also the form of the stags in the Jesus College arms, which while not granted by the College of Arms have their own authority by length of use, as discussed in the last section below. Components of the arms may have been changed or invented by the impetuous Lee. In 1920 the College of Arms submitted an authoritative coat of arms, modifying what had been in use, and perhaps this should be definitive. Because the arms are complex, I have followed the example of other blazon sources by using three numerals to divide the Lincoln College blazon and arms. However, using any punctuation in a blazon is incorrect even today, according to Windsor Herald in response to my question in 2015. Mea culpa.

Variations: All three sections of the arms have been queried. For example, (1) The mullet in the original arms of Bishop Fleming is not pierced, but the college arms are; if a mistake was made, in 1574 or earlier, it endures to this day. Brooke-Little (1951), founder of the Heraldry Society and an alumnus of New College, Oxford has commented on the mullet. He served as Richmond Herald in 1967, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms in 1980, and Clarenceux King of Arms in 1995; he died in 2006. In his 1951 articles, he says the mullet is "probably a cadency mark", though he does not think that as of 1574 it indicated a third son. (2) Multiple versions of the Virgin Mary and Babe have emerged, and an incorrect version showing a demi-lady has been common. The field of the center pale has sometimes been shown incorrectly as azure rather than argent. Brooke-Little objects to, but does not dispute, the use of arms of the See of Lincoln, calling it “a practice which could be condemned,” although the practice is also embodied in the Brasenose and Corpus arms. I have my own gripe, that the Virgin and Child charge on the arms in its current compressed size is a difficult, if not impossible, challenge for the viewer to decipher without the information in the blazon. Perhaps the College of Arms could come up with an easier-to-read form of the charge and the College could adopt it. The precedent of Merton, which recently updated its arms, may be helpful in advancing such a project. (3) The arms of Bishop Rotherham have been shown incorrectly as argent instead of or and the stags have sometimes been shown as statant instead of trippant. As mentioned above, the Rotherham arms stags are trippant in the definitive portrait in the Lincoln Hall. Brooke-Little shows the disputed stags of Thomas Rotherham on the sinister side as statant, which must be considered a rare error when presented with the evidence from 1574 and the portrait.

Similarity to Jesus College Arms. Lincoln and Jesus are neighbors on Turl Street ("the Turl"), of which the joke is often told: "Q. How is the Church of England like Turl Street?" "A. It runs from the High to the Broad and it has Jesus." An American tourist is said to have entered Lincoln College after the Civil War and asked the porter: "Say, is this Jesus?" To which the porter replied: "You aren't the first person, sir, to confuse Lincoln with Jesus." The Jesus College arms are blazoned Vert three stags trippant argent attired or, which is the same as, or close to, the sinister section of the Lincoln arms. The earliest depiction of the Jesus arms was thought to be about 1590, in a document held by the College of Arms, referring to the stags as having a blue (azure) field, but Peter Donoghue, Bluemantle Pursuivant, reports the arms were more likely added 90 years later, on John Speed’s 1605 Map of Oxfordshire, with a blue field. The green field first appeared in 1619 in an armorial quarry painted by one of the Van Linge brothers, and was generally used by 1730, although horizontal hatchings (indicating azure) were still used on college bookplates as late as 1761. It has been claimed that Jesus stole the three stags from Lincoln, but the counter-argument is that the origins of each are distinct. Lincoln Rector Paul Langford has suggested that Jesus College continued the arms adopted by a theological college founded by Rotherham in his home town – Jesus College, Rotherham – which had been suppressed in the time of Edward VI. Another theory is that the stags derive from the arms of Maud Green, Lady Parr, mother of Catherine Parr, last of the six wives of Henry VIII and stepmother to Elizabeth I. The most likely story is that the arms of the College are those of Bishop Rotherham, and John Speed saw them on Lawrence Hall in Ship Street, given to Rotherham in 1476 and leased to Jesus College in 1572. Speed probably assumed the arms to be those of the College when drawing his map in 1605. The Jesus arms could not be confused with those of Lincoln College, because as of 1574 Lincoln's tripartite shield was confirmed by Portcullis Pursuivant.


Nelson Ong, alumnus of Lincoln College; Prof. Henry Woudhuysen, Rector; and Windsor Herald, May 2017.


Brooke-Little,  John P., “The Arms of Oxford University and its Colleges,” Coat of Arms, No. 5, 6 & 7, January-July 1951.

Clark, Andrew, Heraldry of Oxford Colleges," Archaeologica Oxoniensis, II, April 1895, pp. 333-336.

Landon, Perceval, "Notes on the Heraldry of the Oxford Colleges," Archaeologica Oxoniensis, III and IV (July and Oct 1893), esp. pp. 143, 156, 199, 206.

Lincoln College, Website,

Warner, Stephen A., Lincoln College Oxford (London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1908), pp. 38, 38A. Free Google Books edition Warner consulted the Bodleian, the British Museum library, and the libraries of Queen's College, Oxford and Caius and Sidney Sussex Colleges at Cambridge.

Wikipedia entry on Jesus College, section on Coat of Arms.

Related Links

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

BOAT RACE: Topolski Fund Raises $15 Million

Dan Topolski, 1945-2015 (OUBC photo).
The latest issue of Oxford Today reports that a major new rowing endowment has been set up in the name of sporting legend and Oxford coach Daniel Topolski.

The fund has been announced by Olympic silver medallist and three-time Oxford Blue, Colin Smith (St Catz, 2003).

Dan Topolski was born June 4, 1945 and died on February 21, 2015 at 69 after a long illness. Topolski was the coach of the 10-times-winning Oxford Blue Boat in 1987 when the Oxford Mutiny occurred, one of the most famous events in boat racing history. His side of the story was told in True Blue.

He was a riveting speaker at the April 3, 2008 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner in New York City. (Other rowers who spoke that evening were Saman Majd, Kate Weber, and the late Peter Darrow.)

The Topolski Fund is a permanent endowment fund to support all four rowing clubs (the Men’s, Women’s, Men’s Lightweight and Women’s Lightweight), and is anchored by a £12 million (nearly $15 million at $1.22 to the £) donation made by a small group of anonymous donors.

The donation is made up of a £10 million donation and £2 million in matched funding towards a target of £20 million. Colin Smith notes the need for the donation stemming from declining sponsorship as TV rights incomes shrunk. He says the clubs have sought to replace lost income through merchandise sales, corporate events and fundraising. However, in the meantime, budget cuts have had to be made such as staff wage freezes and cancelled new boats.

The endowment is the first at Oxford requiring equal treatment of men and women. Funds are held on trust for the Oxford University Rowing Association (OURA), a new association comprising the four University clubs. Each club is equally represented on the OURA, which also includes three independent trustees.

The endowment is permanent, with only the income available for disbursement, and is managed by Oxford University Endowment Management Limited (OUEM), led by Sandra Robertson.

The clubs receive funds when there is a shortfall in sponsorship income, meaning the Topolski Fund will top up club income to a "foundation budget". The lightweight clubs will therefore benefit especially from sponsorship of The Boat Race because they have been less well funded.

Other Oxford Rowing Posts: Rowing Blazers (Oxford Today) . Rowing Blazers (this blog) . Torpids and Summer Eights . Dan Topolski (Telegraph) . Dan Topolski (this blog). Boat Race History

Saturday, February 11, 2017

TOLKIEN: Feb. 11–Heirs Sue for $150 mil. in 2008

J. R. R. Tolkien
Feb. 11, 2017–This day in 2008, a law suit was initiated relating to the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, written by South African-born J. R. R. Tolkien.

Tolkien was thoroughly Oxonian–attending Exeter College as an undergraduate and returning first to Pembroke College and, after World War 2, to Merton College as a fellow.

Tolkien’s heirs (he had three children–Christopher and Priscilla are mentioned in the source above as participating in the lawsuit) joined a group of publishers in filing a $150 million lawsuit against New Line Cinema in Los Angeles, Calif. Superior Court.

New Line, a movie studio owned by Time Warner since 1996, earned critical acclaim with three Lord of the Rings films directed by Peter Jackson: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).

The lawsuit claimed the three films together grossed more than $6 billion internationally. They were also nominated for a total of 30 Academy Awards and at the 2004 Oscars, The Return of the King won in all 11 categories it was nominated in, tied for the most Academy Awards ever for a film.

Film rights to Tolkien’s books were acquired in 1969 by United Artists, who in turn sold them to the Saul Zaentz Company in 1976. Miramar licensed the rights in 1997 and sold them to New Line the following year.

In the Tolkien lawsuit, the holders of a trust for J.R.R. Tolkien, who died in 1973, stated that they had failed to receive any money from the films, where a 1969 agreement entitled them to 7.5 percent of the gross. Jackson himself settled a bitter and lengthy lawsuit against New Line in December 2007.

The lawsuit by Tolkien's heirs was settled in September 2009 for an undisclosed amount.