e-Matters 23rd March 2021

Dear Members and Friends,

The vernal equinox on Saturday hailed the official arrival of spring. With it we completed Hilary Term and recognised the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown. And what a year it has been. Members and Friends will, we hope, have now received their special edition copy of Christ Church Matters, together with Development Matters, charting the year of Covid in the life of the House. Thank you to everyone who made contributions towards that publication – as well as all copy we have received for these bumper online editions of e-Matters.

We are amidst the anniversary of 40 Years of Women at the House. The latest video feature, with Samantha Job, was uploaded last week. Do tune in if you haven’t already. Thanks, too, to all our alumnae who have already contributed to our Women at the House collage. Please do continue sending in photos and anecdotes of your time at Christ Church to have your place in this historical collection.

As we anticipate the start of Trinity Term, we join all our Members and Friends in daring to hope ​that we will begin to see a return to normal life ​in Oxford and further afield in the coming weeks and months.

With best wishes from us all,
Mark Coote
Director of Development


News from the House

Photo of Professor Sarah GilbertOxford vaccine creator Professor Sarah Gilbert awarded RSA Albert Medal

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology and Senior Associate Research Fellow at Christ Church, has been awarded the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Albert Medal for her work as the lead researcher on the Oxford vaccine.

The RSA Albert Medal is awarded annually to recognise the creativity and innovation of individuals and organisations working to resolve the challenges of our time. Professor Gilbert is the 156th recipient of the medal, which was instituted in 1864 as a memorial to Prince Albert, former President of the Society.

The Medal will be awarded in a pre-recorded ceremony, which will be broadcast on Wednesday 14 April 2021 at 18.00 BST as part of the RSA’s Living Change campaign.

Click here to read full article.


From the Library...

A 12th century Byzantine Psalter now available in digital form.
MS42The most recent addition to the collection of digitised manuscripts at Christ Church is a 12th century Byzantine Psalter (MS 42).  This is a sizable codex on parchment, the exquisite work of one main scribe. Intriguingly, however, inserted in the volume are also a few pages on paper (ff. 49r-v, 86r-v and 132r-135-v) by a different hand. For the link to the digital copy and further details, please see https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/library-and-archives/12th-century-byzantine-psalter-now-available-digital-form

Dr Rahel Fronda, Hebrew Antiquarian Cataloguer of Christ Church Library, writes below about three remarkable antiquarian books in The Library’s Hebrew holdings that relate to the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Rahel is one of a number of people who have been working on cataloguing, conserving and digitising the Morris Collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts. The Library urgently requires funds to ensure the work may be completed on time, and to match generous grants from the Hanadiv and Polonsky Foundations.

MS167"Jewish holiday of Purim symbolises the saving of the Jewish people from their annihilation, as plotted by wicked Haman who was a government official in the Achaemenid Persian Empire. These dramatic events unfold in the biblical book of Esther, and the main characters of its narrative are queen Esther, Mordecai, king Ahasuerus and Haman. As Haman’s plans to kill the Jews fail, the story has a happy end and ever since, every year on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Adar, Jews celebrate the festival of Purim, with lots of merrymaking and thanksgiving. In Jerusalem and a few other walled cities, however, the date of the festival falls on the fifteenth of Adar."

Click here to read full article.


Christ Church Association AGM

The Christ Church Association AGM took place virtually on Saturday 13th March. There was a record turnout of over 60 members, and some very interesting reports on the House’s response to the pandemic from Pauline Linières-Hartley, the Steward; Prof. Geraldine Johnson, the Senior Censor; and Samuel Lane, the Senior Warden. Jacob Ward was re-elected as editor of Association News, and reports were presented on Careers and Mentoring by Tony Hart, Oval House by Robin Priest, and the work of the Development and Alumni Office by Mark Coote and Simon Offen. Questions on Governance were taken by the Chairman, Robin Priest; the Censor Theologiae, Canon Sarah Foot; and the Development Advisor, Prof. Roger Davies. It has been agreed to review the Constitution of the Association before the next AGM, which with luck will take place in September during the weekend to mark the Women’s 40th Anniversary.


Christ Church Cathedral Music Trust: Services for Holy Week

Christ Church CathedralThe Christ Church Cathedral Music Trust is delighted to announce that the full Cathedral Choir has returned to singing services. We hope that you will join us online for some of the upcoming services.

Many of the services for Holy Week will be online and can be accessed here.  Highlights include:

A Passiontide Meditation for Organ on 29th March at 7:30pm 

A Sequence for Holy Week on 30th March at 7:30pm 

A Passiontide Meditation for Organ on 30th March at 7:30pm

Choral Eucharist on Maundy Thursday on April 1st at 6pm. 

The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday on 2nd April at 10am 

A Choral Meditation on Good Friday on 2nd April at 6pm 

The Easter Vigil on 3rd April at 8pm 
(online and ticketed - please click here to register for tickets if you plan on attending)

Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist on 4th April at 12pm 

Easter Sunday Choral Evensong on 4th April at 6pm

We do hope that you will join us.


Virtual Escape Room Game for Junior Members

Virtual Escape Room gameTowards the end of Hilary Term, the entertainment reps in collaboration with the Development Team organised a series of virtual events to bring friends from across college together…even when separated by hundreds of miles.

The 100 Point Challenge saw teams painstakingly cracking puzzle after puzzle, to piece together the theme of the game and work out the cryptic final question. Tom, a second-year linguist, said about the event: ‘I am so glad that we had this opportunity to engage in something as a group – despite the distance and screens between us, it very much felt like we were all together again’.
The following week saw over 50 students participating in a virtual Escape Room game, again competing in teams to be the first to break out. Each player had a dashboard to store clues, and was looking through the eyes of a real-life ‘intruder’, physically in the escape room. One of our junior members wrote: ‘The whole experience was incredibly immersive, and ‘the intruder’ (the person in the room with the camera) perfectly balanced giving us the control to see/find/workout how to do things, with him actually completing them on our behalf.’
Second year law student, Amelia, expressed her thanks to all our donors who are supporting students through this strange time: ‘I am incredibly grateful for the development office for providing this opportunity, and I would definitely recommend the escape room to other people! It was really a novel way to have fun and for the first time in a long time I felt that I was actually with my friends.’


Christ Church Zoom Session for the Junior Members to Celebrate International Women's Day

Screenshot of Women's Q&A talkOn Monday 8th March 2021, UN International Women’s Day, the JCR held a Q&A session with three distinguished alumnae. The panel featured Elizabeth Nyeko (2009), CEO and Founder of Modularity Grid, an energy tech start-up working to improve access to energy and electricity, with current projects in rural Uganda; Sarah Hordern (1991) bringing a wealth of experience in the horseracing industry, as a non-executive director of Newbury Building Society and as current CFO of Modulous; and Iona Bain (2006), financial writer and keynote speaker, founder of ‘Young Money Blog’ and author of two books, most recently ‘Own It!’.

Our three alumnae shared insights into their experiences of working in male dominated spheres, including the challenge of tackling other people’s perceptions and the importance of making your voice heard without waiting to be asked. Accessibility and collaboration were big themes on the agenda, proving particularly useful for our alumnae as team leaders in their fields. As a parting top tip to our current undergraduates entering the world of work, Iona encouraged approaching everything with authenticity and integrity, and being prepared to take risks. Elizabeth added that finding something you care deeply about is key, and not to shy away from training and re-training in this ever changing world. In a parting shot, Sarah’s advice was to work with people you like. Life’s too short to work with muppets!


Women's 40th Online Celebrations

Photo of Samantha JobThe third in our series of films featuring Christ Church Women is on Samantha Job, who read Modern History, and matriculated in 1988.

Samantha became the Director for Defence and International Security at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in March 2019.

Samantha has been a career foreign service officer since 1992. She has worked on geographical issues from South East Asia to the Middle East and thematic issues from war crimes to how to use social media in foreign policy. A theme of her career has been security policy, where she has led policy formulation on counter-proliferation, EU Security and Defence Policy and counter terrorism. Her work has taken her to Thailand and the UK’s mission to the UN in New York, where she was the counter terrorism and counter proliferation specialist.

From 2013 to 2015, Samantha was the joint Head of the North Africa Department in the FCO in London. From 2016 to early 2019, Samantha was the Foreign and Security Policy Counsellor at the British Embassy, Washington, engaging with the US government across all aspects of national security policy. Having worked part-time and job-shared during her career, Samantha is an FCO champion for flexible working.

In the film, Samantha discusses how her upbringing, schooling, and university career at the House prepared her for the challenges of the FCO.


If you enjoyed this film on Samantha Job, don't forget you can find the first two films featuring Professor Judith Pallot and Ophelia Field on the Christ Church website.

Women of the House, We Need You!

Women 40th Pin badgeYou will be aware that 2020 marked 40 years since women were admitted to study at Christ Church. As part of our celebrations, albeit postponed, we are creating a collage to showcase our alumnae and their experiences through the years; thank you to those of you who have contributed already. We want to hear from everyone, whether it is a reflection of how gender played a role in your time at Christ Church, or simply a memory of studying and living here. Please send us your anecdotes, recollections and photographs.

This is an important milestone for the House and we want to do it justice. Our collage will be displayed digitally and physically in September, added to the archives and, eventually, the history books. Whether you were in the first intake of women in 1980 or you graduated just this year, we want to hear from you!
Please send your submissions to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk, and note that by sending in photographs and writing, you consent to being featured in the collage. For GDPR reasons, anyone featuring in photographs you submit will also need to have consented to being featured. As a token of our thanks, we will send you a 40 Years of Women at the House commemorative pin badge. We look forward to hearing from you!


40th Anniversary Silk Scarves

A reminder that our limited-edition 40th Anniversary silk scarf (photo below) can be ordered through the new online shop. To visit the shop please click here. 

Mandy with Women 40th's commemorative scarf

Oxford University's Meeting Minds Global 2021

Meeting Minds Global 2021 will take place from 12-17th April.

This week-long virtual event series allows alumni around the world to come together and experience an array of exciting and innovative talks. Content will be streamed live across four time zones, from New York (EDT), London (BST), Hong Kong (HKT) and Tokyo (JST) with speakers sharing their experiences and expertise across a diverse range of topics. More details on events schedule can be found here. 

Christ Church will be having a virtual booth and holding various online events during this week. A separate email with event details will be sent to Members and Friends closer to the date. Stay tuned!


College Life Blog: Home Schooling: Undergraduate Life at Home during the Pandemic

Photo of Ayman D'SouzaIn the first of two blogs by students currently working from home, Ayman D’Souza (3rd year, Medicine) describes the challenges of lockdown life and learning:

"Like many other students, I'm tackling this term online once again. Of course it's not the same to be doing university from home, but this virtual world also presents lots of new opportunities. Last week, I went from a lab meeting with collaborators in Hungary, to a lecture from a clinical neurologist at the John Radcliffe (Oxford's main hospital), to a pub quiz with friends across the country. 

The JCR reps have also organised lots of activities to keep their fellow students entertained, including a walking bingo ("Wingo") in which I just about managed to secure a prize for the first time: a voucher for G&D's, our local ice-cream shop! We also recently had the first meeting of the JCR’s  new Equality and Diversity Committee, which was a great way to have constructive conversations about the positive changes everyone in the Christ Church community can make to improve our social environment."

Click here to continue reading Ayman's blog.


In the second student's blog, Laura Wilson (2nd year, English) reflects on what has—and hasn’t—changed during a term working from home during lockdown.

Photo of Laura Wilson"I may be far away from Christ Church Meadow, but I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of the Lake District, with breathtaking views on my doorstep. Instead of breaking up study sessions with college netball and daily treks to Prêt (that queue is one thing I don’t miss), I’ve taken to running and walking with my dog. I like to go out at my favourite time of day, sunset, where everything is just a little bit more magical.

I find having a routine really helps, or it’s easy to let every hour be consumed by work (or, equally, scrolling through TikTok). Another silver lining of being at home is the chance to bake. I haven’t quite topped my Christ Church in gingerbread creation (or Gingerbread HouseTM), but I’ve enjoyed experimenting with things like focaccia bread art and macarons.

While it’s not the same as in-person tuition, I’m extremely thankful for online classes and tutorials, albeit from my childhood bedroom. The work is as fascinating as it ever was, and Teams calls are also a welcome opportunity to speak to people other than my family."

Click here to continue reading Laura's blog.


Emily's Wine Blog

La Rioja Alta vineyardsAs another Easter under lockdown approaches, the Buttery team has been back at work looking after the cellar. Although in-person events are still a long way off, we have recently supplied a few choice wines for virtual events. I’d like to share those wine pairings with you, as I think they’d go down well as wines for Easter as well. 

With oak-smoked salmon from Chris Simms, we decided on a 2015 Saint-Véran from Domain Corsin. This wine highlights the best character of this region, which encircles Pouilly-Fuissé: enticingly fruity on the nose, full and buttery on the palate, with flinty and toasty flavours that complemented the smokiness of the salmon, while retaining enough freshness even after six years of bottle ageing to leave the palate clean for another bite. 

Other great houses from Saint-Véran include Frantz Chagnoleau and Olivier Merlin, but avoid instances where the richness outweighs elegance. 

With fillet steak, we provided Château Caronne Ste Gemme 2009, a Cabernet Sauvignon-led Bordeaux blend from the Haut-Médoc, but next-door to the Saint-Julien estate of Château Gruard Larose. In the middle ages, the estate was a resting place for pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostela and has evidence of quality wine production on the site since the French Revolution. This lovely example of mature Bordeaux complemented the lean bit of steak; for a fattier cut, I might go for a younger vintage."

With Easter roast lamb however, my top recommendation would be a very fine Rioja, and my personal favourite is the Viña Ardanza. The current release is 2012 vintage, although we have a pile of 2009 in the cellar, which is my favourite vintage since 1994: I hope to share that with you at events next year in the House. 

If you are in the Oxford area and fancy any of the wines above at the Buttery’s advantageous prices, do email bars@chch.ox.ac.uk and we can discuss collection possibilities. 


Christ Church and IntoUniversity

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visiting IntoUniversity Oxford South East.

Christ Church to help fund the Blackbird Leys IntoUniversity Centre for a further two years.

The initial agreement to help fund the Oxford IU centre, jointly with the University, was made in 2014 for five years and then extended for another three years. We are now pleased to announce that Christ Church, and the University, have agreed to prolong that funding for an additional two years to August 2024. Thank you to all Christ Church alumni who have so generously donated to this project, and to those Junior members who help mentor the pupils.

Download and read the full IntoUniversity Annual Report and Oxford South East Centre Updates.


Christ Church Picture Gallery Burglary

Jacqueline Thalmann, Curator of the Picture Gallery, recalls the burglary which happened last year at the Christ Church Picture Gallery:

A Boy Drinking by Annibale CarracciIt was the end of term and college was closed to visitors and tourists due to the growing Coronavirus crisis. We were glad that the drawings and paintings we had lent to international exhibitions were safely back in Oxford. Two drawings had just returned from Milan before Lombardy had to lock down and a major pandemic crisis had been declared.

Covid-19 was on everybody’s mind. Despite the first signs of spring, the outlook seemed bleak. But it was to become even bleaker for the Picture Gallery, when late in the evening of Saturday the 14th March 2020 the gallery was broken into and three of our paintings stolen – ripped from the wall and broken out of their frames.

Landscape with Soldiers studying a PlanSince then A Boy Drinking by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), Horse and Rider by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) and Landscape with Soldiers studying a Plan by Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) have been missing.

The burglars came from the Meadow, through the gardens and entered the gallery via the roof, breaking and damaging the building in their wake.

They stole a select group of attractive, very painterly and approachable works of art. The Boy Drinking and the Horse and Rider were particular favourites of our visitors – and rightly so. Annibale Carracci was one of the great inventors of the sixteenth-century Italian masters. His Boy Drinking is a painting that stood at the beginning of the interest in the everyday, in seeing beauty in the ordinary and making it image-worthy. The Horse and Rider is beguiling in its unfinished state and gives a glimpse into van Dyck’s artistic mind and creative process and stands at the beginning of van Dyck’s rise to stardom at the English court. With a few precise brush stokes he evoked the powerful movement of a horse and rider coming towards us and the moment when they just turn to avoid collision.

A Horse and RiderChrist Church had housed, looked after, conserved, treasured and shared its art collection with the wider public for over 250 years and these three paintings were now stolen from public display for personal and utterly selfish reasons by a group of criminals.

Art thefts are often given a certain air of romance, but there is violence behind them and there is nothing heroic or romantic about them. These are no Robin Hoods, taking from the rich giving to the poor, but organised criminals, who took items of world heritage belonging to all of us and cared for by Christ Church for generations to see and enjoy.

Mrs Showwell, The Women who shews General Guise Collection of Pictures at OxfordAs I am never tiring of saying – General John Guise left his art collection to Christ Church to establish the first public art museum in Britain, to open it to all, to create a leveller between those who could travel and who could afford to possess art and those who could not. Christ Church, by accepting this art bequest (and the others that followed) took on, developed and carried this obligation. The collections never came with monetary support, but with the stipulation that no item should be sold. Agreeing to this was a bold, forward-looking and expensive undertaking, but worth it. If we really want equality in learning and exceptional education for all, then we have to offer exceptional resources that invite true creative and lateral thinking, and that’s what the Picture Gallery is, does and offers. Christ Church understood this and invested in looking after the collection and opened it to its students and to the wider public and has done so for centuries.  

It might also be helpful to say, that Guise was a military man and fought in many battles, but his collection of Old Master paintings and drawings was not war loot, but bought at auctions in Britain and Paris or from private owners in Venice. I might go as far as saying that this was his way to ‘relax’, a hobby removed from the brutality of warfare and something Guise believed would help and enrich future generations.

I do indeed believe that the paintings will return to Christ Church and the police investigation is open and ongoing. It might take some time for the three paintings to return. We, who have experienced the theft, might not be here anymore, but that does not matter, as long as they will return so that they can be shared with everyone who wishes to visit the Picture Gallery and see them.


News from Alumni

Riz Ahmed in Sound of MetalsRiz Ahmed Nominated for Best Actor Oscar

Congratulations to Riz Ahmed (2001), who has become the first Muslim to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his role in the movie Sound of Metal.

Riz plays a rock drummer who loses his hearing in the movie, where he had to learn American Sign Language and drumming for the part.

In this interview with the Los Angeles Times, Riz discusses the film and what it means for him to be the first Muslim to be nominated in this category.



Professor Renee HlozekProfessor Renée Hložek awarded the Harvey B. Richer Gold Medal

Christ Church Astrophysics DPhil graduate, Professor Renée Hložek (2008) has been awarded the Harvey B. Richer Gold Medal by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) for her contributions to astronomy.

The Richer Medal is awarded every second year by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) in recognition of significant and sustained early career research within the field.

Click here to read more about Professor Renée Hložek's work.




Julia HartleyVid SimonitiNew Generation Thinkers 2021

Congratulations are also due to Dr Julia Hartley (2007) and Dr Vid Simoniti (2008), who have been announced as two of the ten New Generation Thinkers 2021. 

Both began at Christ Church as undergraduates before completing their DPhils here. Dr Hartley is currently Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Warwick, whilst Dr Simoniti is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool.

We look forward to following Dr Hartley and Dr Simoniti’s progress on this scheme, and hearing all about their pioneering research!

Listen to their first broadcast on BBC  Sounds.


Iona Bain: Own It!

Iona Bain Own it!Iona Bain (2006), one of the UK’s leading millennial money experts and founder of Young Money Blog, recently published her new book Own It!

Iona has drawn on her 10-year experience blogging about the world of finance to write the UK’s first in-depth guide to investing aimed at young people – a timely one following the recent frenzies over Gamestop shares and Bitcoin.
Iona, who read music, switched from being a full-time musician to a finance blogger after seeing her generation struggle in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. She has since gone on to become the UK’s go-to voice on millennial money, appearing extensively on TV and radio (including BBC 1’s Question Time). She now writes a weekly finance column for the i Newspaper and hosts the Own It! Podcast, where she interviews dynamic, diverse financial experts.
Iona knows first-hand just how daunting it can be to take that first big step on the path towards understanding your money, what it does in the real economy, and how you can harness its long-term potential to boost your own prosperity. Own it! is the trustworthy, relatable companion that young people need to guide them through the maze that is modern investing, born out of Iona’s conviction that young people have an incredible opportunity really to own their financial futures post-Covid – and change the world of finance for good.
“What I propose in this book is that the younger generations can, and indeed MUST, use their amazing potential to give the world of money the kick up the bum it needs.” – Iona Bain
Members of the House can access a 25% discount on the book through the code OWNIT25OFF when they buy from Amazon, Waterstones and Harriman House.


Dr Andrew Steele: Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older without Getting Old

Photo of Dr Andrew SteeleBook cover of AgelessDr Andrew Steele (2003) introduces his new book Ageless: The new science of getting older without getting old:
"I was coming to the end of a DPhil in physics when I started to read about ageing biology, and I ended up changing career because of a graph. This graph shows how our odds of death vary with age: they double every eight years, rising from less than 1 in 1000 a year as a 30-something—near-certainty of survival—to more than 1 in 6 as a 90-something—life and death at the roll of a dice.

These slightly terrifying statistics suggest a question: why does our risk of death rise so rapidly in late life, and is there some underlying process driving it? The answer, biologically, is yes. It’s the ageing process that causes all of the leading killers in the modern world, from cancer to dementia, and huge amounts of frailty, disability and suffering at the same time.

The exciting news is that we now have the biological tools to do something about it. My book, Ageless, is about the scientific breakthroughs that allow us to slow and reverse ageing in dozens of different ways in the lab, and the human treatments that could lead to a revolution in the way we practice medicine."

Click here to order Ageless: The new science of getting older without getting old.


Natalie Newton: Transforming Recycled Plastic Waste into Bold, Colourful Accessories with Newt London

Natalie Newton and Sam FolkardHow many items of clothing could be made with the number of plastic bottles already polluting our world? Natalie Newton (2009) is determined to repurpose as much of this plastic waste as possible.


After working in business strategy for various start-ups in London, Natalie founded Newt London, a sustainable clothing business turning recycled plastic waste into accessories and shirts for men and women. Newt’s aim is to ‘transform you into your weekend self, whatever the day of the week’. Known for its signature vibrant prints, Newt was selected as Fashion Editor’s pick in the Telegraph Magazine in June. Having launched the business 4 weeks before the UK’s first national lockdown, Newt has just celebrated its first birthday.


Natalie Newton wearing a Newt face maskSince launch, Newt has been featured in further national publications including The Independent, Vogue and GQ, receiving recognition for its unique, bold aesthetic and the sustainable practices that lie at the heart of the brand: all garments are made in London and Norfolk, and all fabrics are printed in Worcestershire and Italy. In keeping the majority of manufacturing as local as possible, Newt is minimising the carbon footprint of their supply chain. Newt has also proven a viable, profitable business model centred around a UK-based supply chain, despite the increased costs associated with manufacturing in London.

Currently, Newt’s range centres around men’s and women’s casual shirts, reversible face masks, cycling and running snoods, and women’s hair accessories. All products are made from recycled plastic waste, with resulting fabrics that are so lightweight, breathable, low-maintenance and crease-resistant that you’d never guess what it was made from. The shirts are finished with buttons made from Corozo nuts, an incredible biodegradable alternative to virgin plastic buttons, with fascinating environmental and social benefits. Environmental consideration does not stop at the products themselves: from the sew-in brand labels and internal fusing to stiffen collars and cuffs, to the packaging orders are sent in, all additional trims and packaging are made from either recycled and/or recyclable materials.


Newt LondonNeedless to say, the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Newt London. After just four weeks of trading, Natalie had no choice but to draft in family support as the pandemic rolled in. She and her husband Sam Folkard (2008) had moved in with her parents, as Sam was working on rotation as an NHS surgeon in their nearby hospital. In full lockdown, the only people who could pack orders and model products were the four people in the household. On days off, Sam swapped his work PPE for a flourishing modelling career, and Natalie employed her parents as Operations Managers. Part of Newt’s response to the pandemic was to launch a range of reversible, reusable face masks. As one of the very first UK brands to do so weeks before they were made mandatory, Newt received significant national press coverage and played its small part in encouraging the public to choose reusable face masks over disposable ones, while keeping medical-grade masks reserved for front-line staff during the initial PPE shortage. With its mood-boosting, playful prints, Newt has become known for making mask-wearing, to quote one customer, ‘a bit more bearable’, and to quote another, ‘a bit of an obsession’.


Photo of Sam FolkardNewt London operates in the sustainable fashion category and happily there is ever-growing demand in this space. With some larger brands ‘greenwashing’ and using the umbrella term of sustainability as a marketing tool, eco-friendly credentials alone are not enough to secure the foundations of a viable business. First and foremost, Newt is an e-commerce business creating long-lasting designs that bring people joy. Now 12 months in, Newt has a clear proof of concept with 1000s of happy customers, a 40% returning customer rate year to date and a 4.9/5 star rating from hundreds of submitted reviews which can be seen on their website. It has also proven a viable, UK-based operational model, turning a six-figure profit in year 1, with a proportion of profits donated to NHS Charities Together and the Marine Conservation Society’s PPE Clean Up Appeal.

The answer to the opening question? Enough plastic bottles lie in landfill and litter our oceans and beaches to make 70 shirts per person per year for the rest of our lives. Rather than using more water and deforesting land to make way for new materials, Newt London reuses and repurposes something that unfortunately already exists. The hope is, of course, that one day there will be no more plastic waste left to repurpose. Until that day comes, Newt will continue to turn trash into treasure.

Visit Newt London’s website www.newtlondon.com and get 10% off your order with code TOMTOWER. Newt is also currently looking for Angel investors for the next chapter of its growth - please do get in touch if you might be interested by emailing natalie@newtlondon.com


Robert Opoku: Virtual Fundraising Concert in aid of Victim Support

Black crossRobert Opoku is a former music student and choral scholar at Christ Church (2009). As well as working from home during lockdown, Robert has been trying to keep his musical activities going. Joining with other musicians at the St Andrew's Church Clewer community, he has put together some recordings for a virtual concert in aid of Victim Support. He invites fellow Christ Church alumni to watch the concert and help raise funds for this very important cause.

Please join local Clewer and Windsor musicians for pre-recorded Easter hymns and arias.

Featuring a special guest appearance at the end of the concert, to be revealed on the day.

To be broadcast on YouTube on Holy Saturday (3rd April) at 6pm.

Including music by Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, and Fauré.

Free admission, with the option to donate either £5, £10, or another amount of your choice.

All proceeds to the Victim Support charity.

Please email virtualconcertclewer@gmail.com with “subscribe” in the subject line for further details.


Photo of Dr Karen HoughDr Karen Hough: MIICT project: A new approach to digital services for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees

Dr Karen Latricia Hough (1997) has dedicated her life to helping refugees, since graduating from Christ Church with a D.Phil. in Social and Cultural Anthropology.  After working for several years in Italy with organisations like the UNHCR, she returned to the UK to work at Centric (Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research), Sheffield Hallam University on the MIICT project.

The MIICT – ICT Enabled Public Service for Migrants, is an EU funded Horizon Research and Innovation 2020 project, coordinated by Centric. Researchers and technical developers and experts from 15 International organisations have conducted in-depth research over the past two years, in three pilot locations of Cyprus, Spain and Italy.  The idea of the project is to ‘co-create’ ICTs with the intended users; migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, and those who provide access to key public services - including healthcare, welfare and employment to aid migrant integration. The entire end-to-end process rigorously followed a co-creation approach to ensure that the needs of migrants and public service organisations were identified, analysed and eventually met. 

MIICT project logoKaren says: “individual migrants and refugees use technology in a number of ways to enable and support their migration process. They use a combination of mobile phones, the internet and social media to gain information and access to services, translate terms, contact relatives in the home country, promote activism; and even be rescued on their dangerous journeys.  Often, they fear using technology due to concerns of surveillance by authorities.  Other barriers to usage include the digital divide.  Thus, it was important to study all aspects of how migrants, asylum seekers and refugees engaged with technology in our research project to ensure the success of the platform”.

The researchers together with the stakeholders have developed a digital platform called “Immerse”, which is practical, user-friendly and has concise information available in many languages, so migrants, asylum seekers and refugees can quickly understand which services they need to access or how to complete a procedure. The platform functions as a centralised one-stop shop environment where services are connected to simplify and unify public procedures and ensure that migrants receive a coherent and streamlined response from public institutions supporting their integration process. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees can also get information on legislation and employment rights, and gain access to vital services offering legal and health advice.

The platform is currently being tested in a live environment for the next six months with the Red Cross in Spain.  Other testing phases will begin shortly in the other pilot locations of Italy and Cyprus.  The methodology used to create the platform consisted of running workshops using co-creation methods with the end users in pilot locations, as well as traditional research methods, including literature reviews, case studies, online surveys and in-depth interviews with stakeholders in several EU countries. Apart from the platform the researchers have been active in providing strategical policy recommendations to the European Commission to help shape their future migration policy.  They have organised a joint policy roundtable, together with the other five Horizon innovation 2020 funded projects and co-authored a whitepaper. 

Anyone interested in finding out more about the project can contact Karen directly on K.Hough@shu.ac.uk


Martin Renshaw (1964): Journal of a plague year; a retrospection...

Martin Renshaw and his organHow did we get here?  Just before Christmas 2020, I was in a southern Tuscan field in bright sunshine, sawing up fire-wood and listening to the sounds of hunting.  The excited barking of dogs, shouting hunters and a few loud shots presumably meant that wild boar were being chased around the hills.   Later, a neighbour said that she saw about fifteen carcasses being taken not far from here for chilling and butchering.  In any other year, I would then have been in a wet, dark city and preparing to sing a whole series of polyphonic carols and masses. 

In history as in science, one needs to tease out and keep separate causes and effects.  Life teaches us first to deal with effects and then afterwards to wonder what the causes were, but now we all have a pretty good idea what the cause was, but the effects are puzzling us.  Making plans is our way to create our own causes but the sonic background to last year was a crescendo of sounds of ripping them up.

In mid-September, two van journeys and a car delivered an organ to Menton in extreme SE France.  Made in 1872 in London’s Soho,this was about the 35th restored, previously-unwanted English organ I have taken to France, but the first to a Church of England building there.  One van load also brought some furniture and three small organs to the house of my partner Vicki (aka Dr Victoria Harding) in southern Tuscany.  When we had finished installing the organ at Menton in mid-October, we left the congregation to enjoy it when they could, and drove down to Sovana, expecting to go back to Menton for the rededication of the restored church and organ on 22 November, and then travel back to London via quite a number of clients and my house near Nantes.  But lockdowns in Italy then France, and finally everywhere, intervened, the church’s congregation having largely dispersed to all corners of Europe.

The Menton project manager having been finally able to order it in early February, this organ, was destined to go to Menton in late April, for final on-site work and assembly.  To restore an organ takes many weeks of work, but the very tight time-scale was achieved by parceling out the work to four specialist workshops in addition to my own.  But in the event, the church wasn’t ready for it then because most of Menton’s key workers travelled in daily from Italy, and that country was the first to try to deal with the effects of the then little-understood cause – while other key workers in Oxford had already begun to understand it well enough to find ways of counter-attacking it.

Thanks to a friend of a friend, a workshop in east London normally used for painting scenery for films and plays, was made available and the organ was assembled there instead.  Driving there from NW London started by being almost a pleasure on nearly-empty roads, but finally became impossible, leaving unhealthy overground and bus journeys and some healthy walking as the only alternative.  But once the organ was up and running, it was possible to divert attention to an organ in a church in the same rather vaguely-defined area known as Clapton. 

Here I had been for two years restoring and assembling a much larger organ against considerable odds – chiefly long-delayed building work in the church, and then a painfully slow re-laying and sanding of vast areas of flooring – while a film-maker hovered with his camera, keen to complete a documentary film which had begun in early 2017, when I dismantled another organ in County Durham.  Clapton’s organ was brought from a white Durham coal-mining town to a black Seventh-Day Adventist church and music school.  In the end, a ‘première’ concert was possible with a fully-functioning organ (though still partly covered by tarpaulins), three days before the second van-load and we left for Menton in mid-September.  [This Clapton concert and carols etc are on line ...]

The film is now in its final editing phase and will be touring the country when that is possible, and may be shown on TV.  As part of the new world order, I have also got used to Zoom for meetings and chats. I ‘Zoomed’ a lecture in late November for the Churches Conservation Trust about the daily life of a medieval church in 1520 to a ‘live’ audience of around 440 and an estimated 2800 since, with many subsequent questions to answer and orders for the second edition of my ‘ABC of a medieval church’ book.  This ‘talk’ was spoken and sung from a house which overlooked hills where a thousand years ago Aldobrando was born; he was educated at Cluny and eventually became pope Gregory VII.  When not defending the rights of the Roman Church with the help of his friend Matilda, countess of Tuscany and possessor of castles defensible against her German relatives, he regulated liturgical music for the western church following the recent unplanned separation of the two branches of a once-catholic organisation brought about by inept diplomacy.  (So, nothing new there...)

Last Easter Day, the choir I sing with when in London planned to perform (for the first time ever liturgically in Britain, we think) the Great Organ Mass in Honour of Our Lady, written about 1772 by Josef Haydn.  In February I was given a former house organ, made c1825, by the Methodist church of Kintbury near Newbury so I installed it in the church in preparation for this event, to be used for the virtuoso solo organ in that Mass together with a small orchestra of unusual instrumentation.  The organ is still there, and is being used for services and teaching when possible and if Easter 2021 does not go the same way as Christmas 2020, there’s a chance that the performance might go ahead then.  But I say, when asked how long any organ project might take, I am an organ maker (among other things) and not a prophet ... two professions that must now be anyway among the most endangered.

But I will dare to predict that the outcome of our present troubles will not be favourable to churches and the organs in them – two other endangered species.  I am trying to pre-empt this in three or four ways: by setting up a Trust to loan organs for teaching and concert use in redundant and other churches.  I dream, too, of placing organs in railway stations and other public places, and am trying to get together various heritage groups to work in ways that actively protect organs.  I am currently also writing a book about organs in later-medieval England to try to show what a central place organs have had in British social and educational culture then.

The organ in the quire of Christ Church cathedral, which I set up in January 2019, on loan there for six months but now likely to be there for quite a while yet, also came from near Durham (where it was made), from one of two Methodist churches in Billy Row, a small mining village near Ushaw Moor.  This organ had been offered to the English church in Menton, but was refused on the advice of a self-proclaimed Welsh expert in such matters.  The organist of Durham cathedral was fortunately of a contrary opinion, so the organ found its way to Oxford, where its effectiveness and versatility can be heard in numerous YouTube filmed services and concerts.


Photo of William ThuillierWilliam Thuillier: ‘Patience is a virtue when it comes to Brexit’ 

William Thuillier (1966), veteran art dealer and broker, was recently featured in an interview with Antiques Trade Gazette:

"One doesn’t quite know what to expect when dropping into William Thuillier’s gallery at his home in Pimlico, London.

During lockdown our visit to the veteran art dealer and broker’s abode is, of course, virtual. Yet even over a Zoom call, the unconventional side of Thuillier and his business model becomes clear.

First, there’s Thuillier’s dog Henry to contend with. In normal times, Henry’s penchant is to “hump everything, including clients’ legs when they come here to view,” his owner reveals. Clients are not put off by the attention, apparently, with Henry’s presence making viewings nothing if not more memorable.

Then there’s the task of categorising Thuillier’s market for pictures, with portraits and landscapes from across four centuries spot-lit on his home gallery walls. Despite starting out as an Old Master dealer back in the 1970s, a much broader spectrum of British and European schools has kept Thuillier in business for more than 40 years. Last year he sold a John Lavery (1856-1941) oil on canvas of Tangiers Harbour to a private collector. Another oil on canvas, this time dating to the 18th century, attributed to Joseph Nicholls (1692-1760) and depicting the old Houses of Parliament, was a further highlight sale in 2020.

“As the market expands and contracts, I’ve been happy to deal across a wide range – Old Masters, Impressionists, post-Impressionists and Modern British,” he says.

With his prices starting at under £1000 for an Old Master drawing, they rise to £150,000 for a fresh-to-market work by an important artist."

Read the full interview in Antiques Trade Gazette.


Photo of David RaeburnDavid Raeburn (1945): 1927–2021

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David Raeburn (1945).

David read Classics at Christ Church in 1945–1949. It was at the House where he directed his first Greek play, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon in Louis MacNeice’s translation.

He had a long and distinguished career as a teacher in schools and universities and as a translator and director of Greek plays. After retirement, he spent almost as many years tutoring Classics at New College, Oxford. He directed 10 Greek plays after the age of 80, with student casts, often using his own translations.

Click here to read the obituary of David Raeburn in the Guardian.


Bhaskar Menon (1953): 29 May 1934 – 4 March 2021

Photo Bhaskar MenonChrist Church is sorry to report the death of Bhaskar Menon, the record label legend of the music industry, who passed away on 4 March in his home in Beverly Hills.

Bhaskar Menon was born in Thiruvananthapuram and attended the Doon School in Dehra Dun, before coming up to study PPE at Christ Church in 1953. It was following this that his career in music business, which spanned four decades, began. Menon started at EMI in 1956, transferred to the company’s Indian division, the Gramaphone Company of India, before eventually heading EMI Worldwide until his retirement in 1990. He was also sometime CEO of Capital Records; it was in this role that he engineered the US promotional campaign for Pink Floyd’s seminal album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973).

Throughout his career, Menon befriended stars like The Beatles, Tina Turner, Queen, Iron Maiden, and Pink Floyd. He supported the Indian Film Industry, as well as working charitably with 24 orphanages. Menon was president of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and director of the American Recording Industry Association for nearly two decades. He was honoured as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1990. Bhaskar was proud of his association with Christ Church, and often expressed fond memories of his time here.

Click here to read the obituary of Bhaskar Menon in Billboard.


Other News

Portrait of Robert MenonRobert Burton's Writing Discussed on BBC Radio 4

In 1621, Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy. It was the first attempt in the modern western world to understand and categorise causes, symptoms and treatments of that universal human experience.

Writing from Oxford where he was a life-long scholar, librarian of Christ Church and a vicar, Burton drew on the writing of others and also his own experiences.

Writer Amy Liptrot, delves into this remarkable attempt at understanding the human condition to find out what we can learn and how far we have come in four centuries.

In this episode of The New Anatomy of Melancholy, Amy travels to the Bodleian Library where Burton discovered many of his sources. She meets Dr Katherine Murphy from Oxford’s Faculty of English and together they look at one of Burton’s own early editions of The Anatomy with his hand-scribbled notes.

Click here to listen to the episode on BBC Radio 4.


Oxford in the 1920s: A Documentary

Oxford Documentary thumbnailProduced by a collaboration of the Union Society and the Dramatic Society, this 1928 documentary on Oxford student life was compiled by Thorold Dickinson, director of Gaslight (1940).

Featuring some great images of Christ Church, and certainly showing a different Oxford, this historical documentary is fascinating.

However, it also exhibits some less savoury views on women studying at the university. It was not until 1920 that women were first awarded the University degree for which they had studied, and there was still considerable resistance to the change. Of course, women have since made extraordinary contributions to academic excellence and University life at Oxford: Find out more here: Timeline: 100 years of women's history at Oxford. And thank goodness the outcome of the Union debate wasn’t put into action!


Poem for the Fortnight

 A Curator of Words
By Barnaby Powell (1962)

The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it.’  -  Samuel Johnson

It has never come easily,
This lucid expression
Of perception and sensation.
Though I’ve eaten several dictionaries
In French and German,
Spanish and Chinese,
I blunt against the given meanings
Lifted in my mother tongue
From C.O.D. and Everyman’s Thesaurus.
Somehow the words themselves
Never quite fit the thing itself
Or the feeling. It’s not the sounds
Or even the uneven spellings –
Hence G. Bernard Shaw’s bequest to
Anyone who could effectively reform
Perverse orthography still lies unclaimed
And Einstein couldn’t quite explain his Relativity,
But he could play it on the violin.
Perhaps I lack the poet’s passion
For the verve, the vital colour of such saying.
Shelley has it in his great Defence of Poetry
As the ‘expression of imagination’ where the
Human’s like a harp touched by the changing winds
To sound out not just melody, but harmony,
As reason and imagination vie to draw
The sting from conflict and we thus become
Those ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world.’

All members of the House are welcome to submit poetry. If you would like your poetry considered for feedback from the judges of our poetry competition, then please send your poems to development.office@chch.ox.ac.ukA poem will be selected every fortnight from St Frideswide's Well and the poet will receive feedback via email. Poems will also be featured on our website.


Alumni Photography

We encourage all alumni and friends to submit photographs to us inspired by the poems featured on our Alumni Poetry Page. Poems and photographs will be collected together in the coming months and will eventually form an online exhibition celebrating alumni creative work. 

To submit your photograph please: