e-Matters May 14th

Archive: News from the House - May 14th 2020

Logo - Forty Years of Women at the HouseCelebrating 40 Years of Women at the House 

COVID-19 struck soon after the first event held to mark the 40th Anniversary of Women undergraduates coming to the House.

Women's Networking Event 

Panel fo speakers at the Women's networking eventThe women’s careers and networking evening, on Tuesday 3rd March, comprised a careers forum in the Sir Michael Dummett Lecture Theatre, followed by drinks and dinner. The current Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson, presided and we thank the following alumnae who kindly gave their time to lead the discussions:

  • Helen Dorey MBE 1982 (Modern History), Deputy Director and Inspectress at Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • Jennifer Jones 1998 (Law), Barrister at Atkins Chambers
  • Victoria McCloud 1987 (Experimental Psychology, UG and DPhil. Christopher Welch scholar in the Biological Sciences. Currently doing a further DPhil at Oxford in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies part time), Judge (Master of the High Court)
  • Stella Schuck 2014 (Economics and management), Senior Venture Architect at Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures and start-up founder.                                                                                              

Helen PikeThe evening ended with a thought-provoking speech by the first woman to become Master of Magdalen College School, Helen Pike, 1991 (History).

The lockdown has scuppered plans for a number of events, although the main celebrations from the 18th to 20th September are still scheduled to go ahead. Please save the date and as soon as we know what we are able to do we will inform all members. 

At present we envisage alumnae arriving on the Friday evening for a buffet supper and time to relax and chat. On the Saturday we will organise a pretty full day of talks, seminars, music, and social gatherings, culminating in a dinner in Hall. On the Sunday we hope to encourage your families to join you at the Sportsground for a BBQ lunch, and some games before finishing with tea.
 
So for now we are moving online!

40 Years of Women Online Initiatives:

Alumnae Interview Series

The first woman to come to the House was Dr Penny Chaloner, who was elected to a Research Lectureship (now a Junior Research Fellowship) starting in October 1978. Then Dr Julia Owen (now Dr Julia Annas) (Lecturer) and Eeva-Maria Lehtonen (now Dr Eeva John) (Senior Scholar) both came in 1979. Thus Penny and Julia were the first female senior members and Eeva the first junior member.
 
The first Woman member of Governing Body was Professor Judith Pallot, who was elected in October 1979. Judith will be the first in a series of video interviews with Women which we will be doing monthly, beginning at the end of May. Watch this space! However, please see below for an interview we have done with Samantha Job (1988), Director of Defence and International Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

An Alumnae Book Club

Cover of Mrs Dalloway by Virginia WoolfBecky Walsh (Quintavalle) (1992, English) has kindly agreed to lead on the first book chosen for the online book club. Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, was published in 1925 and should make for an excellent discussion.

The Book Club is easy to join:

  1. Please email your intention to read the book by the 7th June to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk and we will send you a Zoom link to join in the discussion.
  2. The Zoom discussion, this time led by Becky, will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 10th June. You will need to have Zoom version 5 on your computer or phone.
  3. If you would like to suggest the next book and lead that discussion, please also email the office.
Alumni Poetry and an Alumnae Poetry Competition

ALL members are encouraged to send in poems to share in these fortnightly e-Matters. Please send them to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk

St Frideswide's Well“St. Frideswide’s Well”: We are fortunate that the alumnae judges mentioned below; St Frideswide’s Sisters, healers both; have offered to give email feedback to a limited number of the submitted poems, picked at random from the Well fortnightly. Please let us know when you submit your poem if you would like to be considered for such advice. We also hope that the Well will furnish you with the gift of a regular creative prompt, but that is for the future.
 
In addition, there will be a specific Poetry Competition for Alumnae, which will conclude at the September event with readings and a prize giving.

We have three amazing alumni judges:

Dr Vahni Capildeo (1991)
Ms Claudia Daventry (1983)
Mr Dominic Leonard (2015)

Guidelines:

  1. The competition is open to all members of the House who identify as women.
  2. Entries must not be longer than 2 x sides of A4.
  3. Entries must be received by the development and alumni office by 12 noon on the 24th July; marking 495 years since Cardinal Wolsey began building on the site of St Frideswide’s.
  4. The judges’ decisions will be made public at the September event, and a pamphlet of the best poems will be produced for the event.

There will be a first prize of a two night stay for two in the best guest room in Christ Church, including full board and lodging.
 

An Interview with Samantha Job

Samantha Job Samantha Job (1988) is Director of Defence and International Security for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She recently shared  her memories of her time at the House with us and some advice she would give to current students: 

What is your best memory from your time at the House?

Too many to choose from:  I remember very clearly going under the arch into Tom Quad for the first time (for interviews), wondering if I would ever fit in such a place. I remember celebrating the end of my finals! I have various memories of thinking - “Is this really me? Am I really here?”.  I have very special memories of the Cathedral.  Oh, and I first met my husband at Christ Church.

Why did you decide to go into the civil service? 

I wanted to go into the diplomatic service from the age of about 14. My parents had been in the Air Force, and although I knew I didn’t want to go into the military, the value of service was part of my upbringing. We had lived abroad when I was young, and I had a sense of the world being a big and exciting place. So a career that was international and was about trying to stop wars sounded good to me. Obviously at 14 I didn’t really have much clue what it was actually about. Luckily the more I found out, the more I liked. It’s about people, about making a difference.  In almost any international crisis, I can volunteer to help - I still remember how I felt watching the Twin Towers fall in New York, and being able to go to work the next day and be part of the government response. I still feel like that, only now it is Coronavirus.

 Describe a week in your life.

This week?  I’ve spent it mostly working from my dining room, while sort-of-supervising the kids doing home-school. That was interspersed with a trip into the office to brief the Foreign Secretary on Iran’s nuclear programme, prepare him for a NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting next week, and handling a range of other defence and security issues in foreign policy. At the same time I have been working out which of my staff I could release to the cross-FCO effort to bring British nationals home who are stuck abroad because of Coronavirus-related travel restrictions, and work out what my own role in that will be. Current constraints mean I’m not travelling in the way I normally would, which makes the girls happy! 

What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced during your career? How did you overcome them?

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes - difficult people, difficult managers, difficult situations, building my own confidence, maintaining my career while I had my children. I’ve been involved in several crisis response situations, from civil war in Libya to hurricane response in the US. My tips for overcoming challenges of all sorts are about getting support - I had support from a fantastic executive coach at a critical point in my career, with whom I am still in touch. Build your own support network of peers and friends who will share advice, give you feedback, keep you sane under pressure.

And what would you say have been the biggest achievements of your career?  

Different highlights during different jobs - during my first posting in Thailand I was part of a State visit, when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh came; I was involved in the UK legislation that allowed the UK to join the International Criminal Court bringing war criminals to justice; I loved sitting behind the “United Kingdom” nameplate in the Security Council during my posting to New York (where I worked on the UN’s response to terrorism), and just last year I and my team put together the NATO Leaders’ Meeting in London - 30 Heads of State and Government in the UK for three days. I still pinch myself on occasions like that (reception at Buckingham Palace, anyone?). But my biggest achievement?  Being authentically me. Being a senior civil servant and a mum. Being in a leadership role in my own personal way, changing the working culture (see below) and being in a position where I now mentor younger women. 

To give you a sense of what has changed in the FCO over my career, let me share my favourite story.  After I’d been in the FCO for about a year, I was at a conference with the then Ambassador to Tunis. He asked me how I was enjoying the job - I loved it, I said, it was living up to everything I’d hoped.  “It’ll never last", he replied, “it’s no career for a woman.”  Twenty years after he said that, I was appointed head of our North Africa policy department, and the latest Ambassador to Tunis reported to me. Three years into that job (a job, by the way, which I job-shared with another woman), we appointed the first woman Ambassador to Tunis.  So things have definitely improved!

Are there any particular women who have inspired you throughout your life? 

When I was a child, Margaret Thatcher was PM and we had a Queen on the throne.  Mother Theresa was still alive. On some subliminal level they sent me the message a woman could do anything. As an adult, Madeleine Albright - that quote about the special circle of hell reserved for women who don’t help other women. One of the highlights of my last posting (in Washington) was sitting next to her at a dinner.  She has a wicked sense of humour, by the way.  I have two girls of my own now - their inspiration has come from Malala and Emma Watson.

 Do you have any advice that you’d give to current students at the House?

Don’t self-censor. Your biggest obstacle to success may be inside your own head - what is stopping you from doing the things you want to do? 

A big thank you to Samantha for sharing her experiences with us! 
 

Christ Church shows its support for the NHS

Tom Tower lit up blue for the NHS. Photograph by Lucy TaylorOn the first Thursday evening of Trinity Term, Tom Tower was lit up in bright blue to show Christ Church’s appreciation of NHS staff and carers in Oxford and across the country, including some of our own alumni who are living in College accommodation whilst redeployed at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

We will be ‘going blue’ every Thursday until the end of term to continue to demonstrate our support for healthcare workers. 

NHS mown into the lawn of Tom Quad. Photograph by Steve Brown.Christ Church’s Clerk of Works, Steve Brown, orchestrated the spectacular lighting effects and also paid his own tribute to the NHS when mowing the lawn in Tom Quad. 

Our Clinical Medical students, who have been deemed essential workers, will be some of the first students allowed to return to Oxford in the coming weeks to take up their hospital placements.

We look forward to welcoming them back to Christ Church and supporting them as they continue to develop their life-saving skills.
 

Staying connected during Lockdown

Undergraduate Laura Wilson shows off her baking skills during lockdown with a gingerbread ‘House’ featured on Christ Church’s social media accountsChrist Church is eerily quiet these days with almost all students and staff away from College during lockdown. But that makes it even more important to maintain a sense of community across the institution, even if only virtually. The Senior and Junior Censors, Geraldine Johnson and Dirk Aarts, have been working with JCR and GCR reps on a number of initiatives to stay in touch and support everyone at Christ Church in these difficult times.

We’ve revived the College Life Blog, with students and staff documenting their experiences during lockdown each week of term. You can read the first three entries online now by JCR President Jarnail Atwal, Sam Lane, College Warden and doctoral candidate in History, and Oliver Karnbach, President of the GCR and D.Phil. candidate in Atomic and Laser Physics, with more to come over the coming weeks.

Our student Arts and Welfare reps have recently launched a new initiative on social media, #TomTower9o5. Every weeknight during term time at 9:05 pm when Tom Quad reverberates to the sound 101 chimes, a new photo or video is posted on our Instagram and Twitter feeds to amuse, inspire and encourage the entire Christ Church community, wherever they may be. If you are feeling nostalgic for the nightly sounds of Great Tom, check out the first post in the series. And be sure to follow us on social media if you don’t do so already!

Thanks to the efforts of the GCR President, Oliver Karnbach (D.Phil. candidate in Physics), we have just completed the first week of the ‘Christ Church Challenge,’ a fantastic initiative to keep everyone fit and healthy. Using the Strava app, the JCR, GCR, SCR and College staff are now in hot competition to see which ‘team’ logs the most hours of exercise during the month of May. Thanks to a combination of long walks and a few keen academic athletes with rowing machines, the SCR was in the lead in week one, but there were impressive individual efforts across the board. We are all now keenly focused on the ‘fastest mile’ competition in week two, which will hopefully release our junior members’ inner ‘Bannister’!
 

Christ Church’s Covid-19 Researchers in the News

Many of Christ Church’s academics and alumni continue to be involved in a wide range of important research projects and other initiatives related to the coronavirus. Governing Body members Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, and Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones, Professor of Immunology in the Department of Medicine, were both featured in recent media reports on the latest developments in our understanding of Covid-19 and worldwide efforts to find an effective vaccine. 

 

From the Archivist: Christ Church at War

Photograph of Judith Curthoys, ArchivistJudith Curthoys

Hot on the heels of the commemorations in 2018 for the end the 1st World War, we have just celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day.  In the present circumstances, it was an odd sort of commemoration with street parties replaced by socially-distanced toasts in front gardens, and grand services replaced by on-line remembrance.  Our Cathedral had its own web service of thanksgiving  https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/oxfords-cathedral/online-worship .

When war broke out in 1939, Dean Lowe had only just taken up the reins of office.  Discussions about splitting college and cathedral were, much to the relief of most, put to one side and the Dean, according to the editor of the Annual Report, “rallied and directed the staff with prompt alacrity”.  Air-raid precautions were established, and Christ Church’s sandbag barricades were said to be the “most scientifically constructed in Oxford.”  Ninety students from Brasenose College took over Meadows Building when their premises were requisitioned as a hospital, and twenty-five men from Pembroke College were lodged in Old Library and in Tom Quad.  The nightly call of the 101 was stopped. 

Firewatching in Christ Church library during WWIIThe pictures from the Hall were stored in the Senior Common Room cellar and under Killcanon, and pictures, manuscripts, incunabula, and particularly valuable early printed books from the Library were moved down to the basement of Peck 9. Renaissance drawings, still in the Library at this time, were sent to the Ashmolean for safe-keeping, and the coin collections followed on what turned out to be permanent loan.  Photographs of the Library interior were taken “just in case”. Black-out blinds were hung in the Hall, and fire-watching duties divided between students and Governing Body members.  Iron railings from the front of college, Meadow Gate, and around the Library, were removed as part of the war effort.

Christ Church also acted as a half-way house for refugees from more dangerous areas of the country.  The wives of Students received children from Kent on their way to billets, and refugees from the blitz in Bristol, making sure they were fed and thoroughly bathed. The sub-Dean made sure of their spiritual welfare, too, baptising them all before they carried on their journeys.  Besides the refugees and students from other colleges were cadets from the Royal Air Force who were fully matriculated undergraduates but had their own classes - twenty-two were on the freshers’ list in 1941, and there were summer schools for visiting soldiers.  Ordinary undergraduates could defer their service provided that they joined the Officer Training Corps with all that entailed.  And there were staffing problems right from the start.  Many men had been called up, and women were helping the remaining older scouts before 1939 was out. Those staff who did remain were given allotments carved out of the old rugby pitch.  Eggs and vegetables were supplied from the college’s farm at Cassington.

Troops on parade by Meadows buildingAway from home, Christ Church men were serving in all manner of ways, not just in the regular forces.  Of the squad that won the 1938/9 Inter-collegiate football cup, for example, two men were in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves, one began the war in the Coldstream Guards but ended up in the Ministry of Production, and another served as a member of the Admiralty Computing Service founded in 1943.  One was killed on active service in Italy.  Other members were involved in intelligence, particularly cryptography and radio interception, often recruited by Dick White, the only man to later become head of both MI5 and MI6; men like Gilbert Ryle, and Hugh Trevor-Roper who worked in the Radio Security Service, later joined by Denys Page and Charles Stuart.  Trevor-Roper continued in service in the months immediately after the war researching the truth behind the death of Hitler.  John Croft and Edward Boyle worked at Bletchley Park with Keith and Mavis Batey, and Maurice Wiles.  Masterman was recruited as secretary of the Twenty Committee running double-agents and developed the ‘Double-Cross system’.  Michael Howard was invited to join the RAF to play the oboe in its orchestra until his tutor, Keith Feiling, suggested that it would might not be an easy thing to confess to after the war. Several Christ Church scientists - men like A.H. Cooke, C.H. Collie, and Martin Ryle - were researching in new fields such as radioactivity, radar, rockets, and nuclear power.  Michael Grace worked on acoustic underwater mines before following a career in nuclear physics.

Portrait of George BellAnother Christ Church man, George Bell, stood against some of his House colleagues.  Bell had come up to Christ Church in 1901 and went on to a career in the church.  During the war he was Bishop of Chichester, and stood firmly in the defence of the German church and against the blanket bombing of German cities.  He tried hard to convince the nation that not all Germans were Nazis, a fact that was difficult for the ordinary people of Britain to accept when they suffered nightly bombing, and needed to feel that animosity in order to find a reason for the fighting.  Bell appealed in the House of Lords facing other Housemen whose opinions were diametrically opposed.  Men like Charles Portal, the air chief of staff, Frederick Lindemann, and Lord Cecil.  Anthony Eden, then Foreign Secretary and also a Christ Church man, called Bell a “pestilent priest,” a reference, no doubt, to another troublesome bishop about whom Bell had encouraged T.S. Eliot to write.

As soon as the war was over, the quads of Christ Church began to refill. Many of the new arrivals were service-men on shortened courses, often several years older than the ordinary freshers, sometimes even married with children.  The “last war wanderer”, Denys Page, whose service had been with the Foreign Office, returned in 1946 from south-east Asia.  A commemoration service was held in March of that year, and the other side of the cathedral ‘tunnel’, opposite the memorial to those who died in the First War, was soon inscribed with the names of those Christ Church men who had died serving their country in the Second. 

Programme cover for the production of Henry VIII to celebrate the QuatercentenaryGenerally, things returned to normal pretty quickly.  The ‘treasures’ returned from their safe-houses, and rumours that the Orrery scientific instruments had been buried were eventually proved unfounded when they were found, in 1948, in the basement of the Old Ashmolean museum. The Beagles returned in 1946, only to suffer a problem with distemper in the pack in 1949.  The Nondescripts, Loders - with Ludovic Kennedy as their president, and the Twenty Club began again within the year.  In spite of rationing, celebrations for the quatercentenary of Christ Church, offered a real opportunity for rejoicing.   There was a royal visit on 24 October, a dinner in Hall, and W.G. Hiscock published his Christ Church miscellany. On Foundation day itself, a production of Henry VIII was staged in the Hall.

The freezing winter immediately after the war was not helped by the rationing which seemed even more severe than it had done during the previous six years.  In March, the gales and floods caused the loss of many trees on the Meadow. Coal was strictly limited, and men huddled together keeping one room properly warm instead of several rooms poorly so.  Everything froze, and layers of clothes were required even in bed.  A meagre diet was eked out with food parcels sent for the wealthier men whose families had large estates. It was not until 1954 that meat rationing was lifted, prompting the roasting of a huge 230lb baron of Hereford beef before one of the great fireplaces in the kitchen.

It was not long before academic relations with Germany were re-established.  In 1948, Dr Wolfgang Schmidt, classicist and philologist, arrived as a visiting scholar from Cologne via the British Council, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) was re-established in 1952.  Michael Foster, philosophy tutor, had worked hard on “rehabilitating the young men of Germany” and, after his death, a scholarship scheme was devised to bring German undergraduates to Oxford for two years.

 

Wine Blog - Emily Robotham 

Christ Church and the college cellars

Photograph of Buttery Manager Emily RobothamCouched in the oldest part of college are some of the House’s greatest treasures…

The House has a traditional cellar kept for college events, Gaudies and banquets. Unusually at Oxford, these cellars are held independently of the SCR’s own stash. The college cellar is run by myself and includes several unusual wines, including 1979 Vintage Cognac, Chateau Latour 1985 and Chateau Coutet across several years.

A small, seasonal selection of wines are publicised to students and staff during term-time. Reserving wines for events or for longer-term storage keeps the list of available wines limited but exquisite. We are always excited to hear from alumni wine-lovers and can provide a list if you email bars@chch.ox.ac.uk.

The current pandemic has hampered our operation: but once the lockdown has lifted, we will be releasing some of our older wines across a range of price points, including some unusual Rieslings and back vintages of grand cru classé Claret. One such wine will be a Mosel from a vineyard owned by the same family since 1643 – the Brauneberger Juffer Richter Riesling 2009 (£12). All our wines are of limited quantities and the offers will only be open while stocks last. Meanwhile, since we cannot at this point safely ship cases of wine, these will only be accessible on a visit to Oxford; if that doesn’t put you off, let us know when you’re coming!

Jabberwocky GinThe House’s tipple – Jabberwocky Gin

With interest in gin at Christ Church at an all-time high, we decided to make our own take on this classic spirit, using botanicals found on site. I asked our head gardener, John James, what were the herbs and plants that would most closely evoke a walk through the grounds on a heady Spring morning. We came up with a list of herbs and shrubs as a recipe for a friendly local distillery owned by the Foxdenton Estate. Foxdenton specialise in gins with big flavours and lots of character, and we’re sure this comes across in our House gin.

The name and label derive from the works of Charles Dodgson, known as Lewis Carroll. It is a common myth of the House that the Pococke tree, sequestered in the loveliest corner of Oxford, provided the inspiration for the monstrous Jabberwocky. Our archivist, Judith Curthoys, is sure this can’t be strictly true, as at the time of Charles Dodgson the Pococke tree was hidden away from most. We chose for the label instead a nineteenth century engraving (usually housed in the Librarians’ tea room) of a young fig tree growing up the wall of the SCR garden – Dodgson could hardly have missed it. Its spreading, spindly arms are perhaps not so gargantuan, but for me represented something more: the gin had to engage with the House’s story, sprawling, rich and fruitful.

A bottle of House gin is available to members for £30 in the Buttery and is also available to visitors in the Thatched Barn gift shop.

Coming soon: In exciting news, Foxdenton are currently making the next incarnation of our college spirits. This time, it’s a fruit gin, from medlars, quinces and blackberries from the college grounds. My little bottle of the final recipe is keeping me going through lockdown, so I can’t wait to share it all with you this Summer.
 

Locked Down in Burgundy - Jasper Morris 

Jasper MorrisI rather think that some of my tutors will have been unsurprised that my three years at Christ Church have led to a career in the Wine Trade rather than one of the nobler professions or academia. One of my favourite periods in history was the Later Middle Ages[1], good training for a subsequent career in Burgundy, where I now live.

In some ways Lockdown has been a blessing: two months without leaving home except on foot for an hour a day’s exercise in the woods around our village, left plenty of time for catching up with a backlog of work (preparing a second edition of my book Inside Burgundy and putting tasting notes on my website of the same name).

Our standard plan is to drink only in the evenings, when we typically have a glass of white wine aperitif and share a bottle of red – usually Burgundy but not restricted to that. Other favourites include the red wines of the Loire (Chinon, Bourgueil) and the white wines of the Jura.

The only snag is that fine Burgundy has become fiendishly expensive as quality has been so much improved over the last 25 years, and so many new markets have opened up around the world. But here are some recommendations for finding value:

  • Basic Bourgogne Rouge or Blanc from leading producers whose 1er and grand cru wines would be way out of budget.
  • A handful of top producers in the Côte Chalonnaise: Vincent-Dureuil-Janthial in Rully, François Lumpp or Clos du Cellier aux Moines in Givry, Stéphane Aladame in Montagny for example.
  • Beaujolais – though arguable if this is part of Burgundy or a region apart - has made a glorious comeback at still very affordable prices. Trade up to the crus such as Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent and look for single vineyard bottlings. Lots of different styles available and some exciting new turks such as Frédéric Berne, Julien Sunier, P-H Thillardon and established names like Jean-Marc Burgaud, Ch Thivin, Louis-Claude Desvignes.
  • In white there is similar joy to be had from the individual growers in the Mâconnais (Olivier Merlin, Nicolas Maillet, Julien Barraud). And never forget Chablis! Though try not to emulate St Edmund of Abingdon, for whom Teddy Hall is named, subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury. Summoned to Rome he got as far as Chablis (Pontigny in fact, but very close by) and expired.

[1] I remember an edict of Henry V’s threatening the death penalty for any soldiers of his in France who did not dilute their wine half and half with water. I believe this edict has since been repealed.
 

The Guardians of Ua Huka - Annika Schlemm 

Photograph of Annika SchlemmAnnika Schlemm (2016) shared a link with us for a film made about her expedition to the Marquesas Achipelago in French Polynesia: 

Guardians of Ua Huka image"I'm really excited to share the link for a film which was made during a conservation expedition to the Marquesas Archipelago in French Polynesia, where I led the scientific research in the field.

The expedition itself was led by Liv Grant (2015), a fellow Christ Church alumni, whilst we were both studying at Oxford.

We are so thankful for Christ Church's generous support that made this whole venture possible!"

The Guardians of Ua Huka can be viewed here.

 

Reflections on COVID-19 and VE Day - Simon Kusseff 

The ravages of the COVID-19 virus played havoc with plans across the world to mark V. E. Day.

In 1995, at the 50th Anniversary of the end of the European War, there were still many veterans alive to witness the Sunset ceremony in Whitehall. The ceremony, performed in front of the Queen and broadcast by the BBC to the world, included a reading by the actor, Edward Fox, of a poem, written in 1940, during the Blitz, by Frank Thompson. These lines spoke on behalf of the 30 million fallen during the war:

Polliciti Meliora

As one who, gazing at a vista
Of beauty, sees the clouds close in,
And turns his back in sorrow, hearing
The thunderclouds begin.
So we, whose life was all before us,
Our hearts with sunlight filled,
Left in the hills our books and flowers,
Descended, and were killed.
Write on the stones no words of sadness –
Only the gladness due,
That we, who asked the most of living,
Knew how to give it too.

The Lockdown advice, to stay at home, is forcing people to slow down and go out for a walk, or a cycle on streets which are quieter and less polluted than they have been for years. The Spring weather, flowers, blossoms and the sound of birds singing, allows us to remember that the human species is itself part of nature.

Remembrance is about reflection but also provides an opportunity to give thanks for the more peaceful world we have enjoyed since 1945 and to think about subsequent developments yet to come, in particular regarding climate change. The lockdown we face today could be compared to going into retreat, or being on a pilgrimage, giving time to reflect on the meaning of our own lives and our thoughts for the future of the world, so that those who died during WW2 and COVID-19 have not died in vain.
 

Cathedral News and Events 

Photograph of the Cathedral by Matt ScuttUpcoming Events

House Evensong for Ascension Day

There is a special service of House Evensong for Ascension Day which will be released on Thursday 21st May at 6pm. This can be accessed by clicking here. The service will include voices from across the college community, music by the college choir and a sermon by the Revd Canon Adrian Daffern, Vicar of Great St Mary, the University Church of Cambridge.

College Compline

A service of Compline (night prayer) will be released every Wednesday of term time at 8.30pm and will be available to view all week by clicking here. Each service includes a reading and short address or poem, images from Christ Church, and is sung by members of the College Choir.

Please do remember that we have a growing range of material online, including worship each Sunday, a daily blog, and a weekly musical reflection. You may also like to make use of the special booklet of Prayer Resources we have created. The College Chapel is also continuing to run this term with a range of services using Zoom and Vimeo. You can see details of our events and services here. 

Prayer Requests 

We are aware that many of you will have experienced bereavement and loss and may be concerned about loved ones. The Christ Church Chapel/Cathedral team would like to remember in prayer those who are sick, those who have recently died, and those who are mourning. If you would like us to pray for you or for someone you care for please fill in this form (which can be done anonymously).

 

A Hymn for the Current Crisis 

Dr Tony Law (1965) has written a hymn reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tony is a Methodist Local Preacher who trained through Wesley Memorial Church during his time in Oxford. 

Tony's hymn with commentary can be found here.