Our 2nd Quarter 2017 Newsletter

25th April 2017

Alan Hawkins

The story of Christ Church, Oxford.

Alan reminded us that Oxford had been a site of worship since the 8th century.  That the city on the banks of the Thames was on an east to west highway; and the shallow bottom of the river made a crossing easy and thus an ideal place for a settlement which was to become Oxford.  For nearly five hundred years the city had been dominated by the priory dedicated to St.Frideswide; her shrine became a magnet for pilgrims after her death in 727 and long before she was canonised in 1480.

In 1524 Cardinal Wolsey obtained the site of the priory and began the building of his new Cardinal College, the foundation stone being laid July 1525 when the demolition of the old priory began. The first part of the building to be completed was the Great Kitchen, finished in time for the Christmas dinner of 1526. With the fall from grace of Wolsey, King Henry VIII declared his interest in having a college in Oxford and what better than to take over in 1530 the still uncompleted Cardinal College, of which only three sides of the front Quad had been finished., known first as King Henry VIII College, in 1546 the College was formally re-founded with the name of Christ Church.

In 1542 the new See of Oxford was carved out of the ancient diocese of Lincoln, and for this new See a cathedral was needed. In 1546 the still standing old priory church was re-designated the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry VIII and was to serve both as a college chapel and as the cathedral of the new foundation. Oxford See is the largest diocese in the country with the smallest cathedral! Christ Church was also known as Aedis Christi – the ‘House of Christ’ hence the nickname The House.

In the sixteenth century the first library was established in the old monastic refectory. Its painted ceiling was rediscovered and restored in the late 1950’s.  The new library was began in 1716 and was finally finished 60 years later; inside the building in Peckwater Quad is the magnificent Upper Library with its bookcases in Norwegian oak; and the plasterwork dating from 1752-3.   The beautiful van vaulting over the stairs leading to the hall were commissioned in the 1640’s. Tom Tower was built in 1683.

William Gladstone was a student at Christ Church. Tradition says that rowing was first bought to the University by a Christ Church member in 1817; but the records of the Boat Club do not begin until 1860.  The first University Boat Race took place in 1829 when Cambridge sent a challenge to Thomas Staniforth captain of the Christ Church boat. Dark blue was chosen for the Oxford colours as that was the colours of Christ Church.

Christ Church men were foremost in sport during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries particularly in athletics, rowing, cricket and rugby. In 1951, in golf, a famous hole-in-one was made by P.E.Gardner-Hill, then captain of the University golf team – when he hit the ball over the top of the library and the Fell Tower into Mercury in the Great Quad. The fountain Mercury and the pond were not in fact designed as garden features but as a functional reservoir in case of fire. The diary of the Head Porter, Mr Borrett, from 1936 until 1962 tells the story of the painter who, in stepping back, to admire his work on Tom’s clock fell backwards into the water. And in 1949 a swan with a bow tie was found serenely enjoying the water!

In 1980 the first women undergraduates were admitted, alone with a woman Junior Research Fellow.

Alan had kindly stepped in to give us this fascinating talk in place of the advertised speaker who was ill.

30th May 2017

The Magic of Egypt

John Paine

John said he loved Egypt and had been there 10 times and for this talk would concentrate on the places he had visited along the Nile River. John has recently discovered the work of the water colour artist David Roberts who, in 1838-39, travelled in Egypt and compiled a portfolio of images some of which John included in his images.   Today there are road systems between the pyramids to transport tourists between the sites. The Cairo Museum contains thousands of items from the sites including the gold face mask (the third, upper one) of Tukankhamum who reigned from 1341 BC to 1323 BC. For six months of the year his body is at the Museum and for the rest of the year is in its original burial site in the pyramid!    It costs £25 to see the interior of his pyramid and no photographs are allowed. The Muhamed Ali Mosque is also a magnificent place to see in Cairo. The centre of Luxor is like Queen Street, Oxford with fresh food being sold on stalls – almost in the style of MacDonalds. Luxor Temple has two huge statues on either side of the entrance, and dates back some 7,000 years.

The Nile cruise goes from Luxor to Aswan – which is the furthest the boat can go because of the huge dam built at Aswan. On the river you see the Felucca’s – these are boats with triangular sails, and woman washing pots and clothes on the river bank.  Along the river the sugar cane crop is grown. At Esna the largest town along the Nile has high rise flats and is full of shops for tourists. Esna Temple is small and would have been brightly coloured, there are 24 columns each one different in style.  The temple of Tell Edfu has a statue dedicated to the Hawk God. Also at Aswan is the Temple of Isis.

The dam itself was built between 1960 and 1970, its building put in danger some of the temples in its vicinity.  These were saved by being moved to higher ground or to a different locations; such as the Abu Simbel temples moved to the shores of Lake Nassar. This move meant that the giant statue of Ramses the Great had to be carefully reassembled.  The Temple of Ramesses II at Aksha, and the Temple of Hatshepsut at Buhen were both were reassembled at Khartoum. Countries that helped, either financially or by supplying experts each received a monument – such as The Debod Temple which went to Madrid. The mortuary temple of Ramses III is like a Chapel of Rest and built 3,000 years ago.

The tombs of Seti I and Ramesses III in the Valley of the Kings depict the various human types in the Universe over which the sun-god Ra presided.

The Paul Getty Foundation has restored the tomb of Queen Nefertari at a cost of 15 million dollars, groups of 15 are allowed in for 20 minutes.

27th June 2017

AGM and Members Evening

This meeting was also our AGM  – Henry Brougham (Chairman)  and  John Amor (Vice-Chairman) were re-elected along with the rest of the existing Committee – the members expressing their support for all the work the Committee  does s for the Society.  Olive Williams (Social Secretary) arranged for the wine and nibbles; while John Amor talked about the exhibits on show from the Society’s archives.  And while the members partook of the refreshments it was fascinating to see and handle what John provided.

The list is too long to give in detail but among the exhibits were:  Oxford City Official Guide 1933-35 which describes Kidlington “The delightful air like good wine and food”.  One show was Mr Chamberlain’s notebook on the footpaths of Kidlington dated 1937.  Mrs Lionel Curtis (her husband was a Fellow of All Souls College and also a friend of Lawrence of Arabia) sof Hales Croft ran the evacuees program in Kidlington finding the children homes; anyone with a spare room had to house a child from London.  Councillor Wise was in charge of the Kidlington Invasion Committee; forming part of the Committee was Dr Thorne who lived in Crown Road; Mr Cole of Mill Street the Registrar and A.E.Hancock the Leading Fireman from Oxford City Fire Service.

National Registration Day was 29 September 1939 and a National registration Card to be able to obtain food was on display. In 1940 Kidlington children collected newspaper and dragged it down to Oxford to St.Ebbe’s in aid of the war effort.

On show was a flyer for Thanksgiving Week/Salute the Soldier Week 1944 to raise money for the war. In the same year Jean Locket (now Jean Amor) obtained the rank of “Field Marshall” in the Guides – well done Jean!  After the war George VI sent certificates to all the school children thanking them for their help in supporting the soldiers.  Our member Barbara Brown as a child had received such a letter. Kidlington Peace Day was held between 8th – 19th September.

Memories of going to Oxford on the No. 20 which terminated at Carfax were stirred by a photo of one of the buses.  There was also a photo of the No. 93 in which the conductor (I still miss a conductor who would help you on and off) sitting by the driver with two children.  No Health and Safety in those days!

There was a photo of the Kidlington Choral Society – some History Society members were members of this.  Another photo was of the door of Burnt Oak Mill Street, which in 1937 was owned by Mr Charles Parker.  John told us about Thomas Beecham who lived in School Road, now Green Road, and who was the inventor of Beecham’s Pills. Henry, a poor shepherd cousin of Thomas carved a walking stick which is now in Reading Museum.

A photo of St.Cuthbert’s Hotel, Banbury Road, was on show – it is easy to find as originally painted purple it is now a dark green on the outside.  Also on show was a newspaper cutting relating to the tea gardens at the hotel.  Before World War II Church Street, The Moors and Lyne Road regularly flooded, to solve the problem massive drainage pipes were installed – one of John’s photos shows a children standing at one end of one of the pipes. The child is dwarfed by the size.  John said that there was a rumour that a Range Rover was driven into one of the pipes.

One of most intriguing photos was the mile of pennies in 1976 – in aid of fundraising week in Kidlington.

As always John put on an excellent display of our rich collection of archives making it fascinating evening.

I was unable to attend the evening so my thanks to Clare Lobb who kindly took notes so that I could provide this write up of the evening.