As preparations for the Emily Hobhouse talks were being made, and being superfluous to requirements ... I took myself off into town. What a glorious Autumn day – though I did notice that the temperature was distinctly colder inland, than my balmy Eastbourne coastline. (The Masters Garden at Balliol College)
Town was full of workers, tourists, students or scholarly sorts walking or riding bicycles, enjoying the gorgeous Autumnal sunshine while hustling and bustling about before the real start of term the following week ...
|The Family Butchers in the market
... I had a chance to scout around, relax and soak up the atmosphere. I’d wanted to go and visit the covered market, which was a wonderful resource for shopping in the days gone by ... it didn’t disappoint, but was way more upmarket than I remember: but still had a butcher, baker, fishmonger ... and probably candlestick maker! Good coffee shops too ...
|Six new galleries will be added in
November 2011displaying the
collections of Ancient Egypt and Nubia
I just wandered imbibing life with no time frame or worries ... making my way to the nearby Ashmolean Museum, which has recently been refurbished and redesigned: I was keen to have a look around – providing me with yet more fodder to tempt my brain to return at a later date. Not difficult in Oxford ....
... I will return to the Ashmolean in another post, you will understand why if I treat you to a sentence from the Guide Book explaining that one visitor (to the original collection in London pre 1678) described the experience of viewing the collection as “a man might in one day see in one place more curiosities than he should see if he spent all his life travelling”.
|St Anthony's Refectory
I walked up St Giles, into Woodstock Road and on up to St Antony’s College, where the first talk was to be held. St Antony’s is the most international of the seven all-graduate colleges of the University of Oxford, specialising in international relations, economics, politics, and history of particular parts of the world — Europe, Russia and the former Soviet states, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, China, South and South East Asia.
I suddenly found myself in amongst a complete diaspora of academia mainly from South Africa, but all sorts – Professors, Doctors, Researchers, scholars ... and a blind (possibly) Rhodes Scholar studying music from Pretoria ... she was taking some notes on her Braille machine.
Professor William Beinart, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations and Director of Graduate Studies at the African Studies Centre, St Antony’s took us out for an evening meal in the Hall – which gave him a chance of talking to Jenny about her work and papers.
|Corpus Christi College - the
setting for some of the
Inspector Morse tv series
Saturday dawned bright, crisp and sunny – a lovely early Autumn day – tempting us into Oxford before the afternoon talk. Birgit and I bussed into town, then entered the auspices of Balliol College (which remains on the same spot as when founded about 1260) to look at the gardens, the chapel etc imbuing ourselves in their golden glow of stone and learning ...
We really had struck the right weekend – this being the time of Matriculation ... the ceremony at which new students are entered into the register (in Latin matricula) of Oxford University, at which they become members.
|Subfusc in the gardens
at Balliol College
It is a requirement that they all wear subfusc – the academic dress: black and white ... a gown, cap, and white bow tie (for men) or black ribbon (for women) ... so the town was full of ‘penguins’!
|Carved Zimbabwe Birds on the
pillars of the staircase – an ancient
representation by the Shona tribes
at the ruins of Great Zimbabwe
(ca 11th C) ... probably representing
the Bateleur Eagle or African Fish Eagle.
Birgit and I wove our way around and through these chattering laughing bright-eyed students ... as we wended our way up to Rhodes House, where Birgit still studies occasionally ... and so she could take me in and show me round.
|Rhodes House from the garden
Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902) was an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa, from whose Will a Trust was created to fund Rhodes Scholars – these international postgraduate scholarships are considered one of the world’s most prestigious awards. The Rhodes Scholars are affiliated to a college but enjoy access to Rhodes House with all its facilities.
A blackboard that Einstein used during one of his lectures at Rhodes House in 1931 was ‘saved’ and is now on permanent display in the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. The last three lines give numerical values for the density (p), radius (P), and age of the universe.
The Eagle and Child pub was the meeting place of ‘The Inklings’ = C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 – 1983), and others ... where we too had decided to have our pub lunch prior to our afternoon meeting.
|The Eagle and Child
The International Gender Studies Centre (The Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on Women) is hosted now within Lady Margaret Hall – so this is where we headed to for our afternoon session.
The Friends of IGS Newsletter announced “We are hosting a special lecture on Emily Hobhouse, known to students of nineteenth-century women’s history. The lecture, ‘Three Lives: one person. Emily Hobhouse 1860 – 1926’ by Jennifer Hobhouse Balme and Birgit Seibold, will explore Hobhouse’s role as a forthright critic of the South African War.”
|Lady Margaret Hall founded 1878
It was so interesting being able to meet relatives and mix with so many incredibly erudite people – I felt somewhat out of it – yet thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and opportunity to interact with academia and family.
After we had said our farewells and bid relatives good bye – the core four of us ... two of my mother’s cousins, one with her daughter (whose own daughter has just started at Oxford reading, appropriately, History and Politics) and I ... thought that tea and time together would be a very good idea.
|Cotswold Hotel where we had tea
We found a very nice hotel, where they gave us a traditional English tea – with comfortable chairs in a quiet surrounding: lots of tea, smoked salmon or cucumber sandwiches, scones with Cornish cream and strawberry jam, and cheesecake ... so we were all happy!
|A Cape Dutch style house in the
village of Hobhouse, Free State, SA
A South African Senior Research Fellow from the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing sat next to me for the talk to the Swaziland Society – and he was bemused at my mention of my mother and uncle, as well as the discussions we had had that had morphed into my blog – and also the fact that we now have a Dementia Unit at the Nursing Centre.
I mentioned my uncle in the last post, who was extremely complementary about Jenny, as “the compiler of Emily’s papers” ... I’d taken Jenny out to meet Derek and they certainly had one long conversation – obviously both appreciating Emily’s life.
|Wild flowers of South Africa
I just wanted to add as a personal note for me – but which you may find interesting ... I went into Google to check something ... and found a comment/entry to the Obituary posted on my uncle that I quote here: “I remember Derek as a Fleet Air Arm Observer in 832 Squadron during the war. He was a very pleasant person and was called by another Observer ‘the most intelligent man he had ever met’.” That’s a lovely memory for our family.
This rounds off what has become and continues to be an amazing experience ... a historiography – the study of events of the past, while ensuring that the changing interpretations and necessary corrections are made for future historians: family, literati, academics et al ... all set amongst the gleaming, dreaming spires of Oxford intertwined with the newest offerings of the internet.
The whole time has been so interesting ... made more so by being given the opportunity by Jenny and being shown round by a German friend - after all these years of being away! Thank you - Jenny and Birgit ... for a lovely time.
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