The Many Lives of Worcester College Hall

1. Hall through door

This month the College is celebrating the re-opening of the Hall, which has been closed since October last year for a major refurbishment generously funded by the Linbury Trust. A selection of items from the Library and Archive collections is presented here to illustrate the history of this beautiful space.

2. Loggan, Gloucester Hall

Gloucester Hall by David Loggan, 1675

Worcester College was founded in 1714 following a benefaction of £10,000 from Sir Thomas Cookes. This money could support the Provost and a body of Fellows and scholars, but left no surplus for buildings, so the new College was founded on the site of Gloucester Hall, shown in this 1675 drawing by David Loggan. However, most of Gloucester Hall’s buildings were medieval and by the early eighteenth century the central buildings in particular were in a state of disrepair. In this drawing the old chapel can be seen without a roof and with a tree growing in the centre.

3. Loggan, Chapel detail

Detail from Loggan’s drawing of Gloucester Hall, showing the Dining Hall (B) and ruined Chapel (D)

In 1719 the first Provost, Richard Blechinden, applied to Chancery for permission to expend a recent benefaction from Margaret Alchorne in building works, stating:

there is also a very Great occasion for a Library and Common dineing Hall in the said College the Hall now standing therein being so very antient and ruinous That it is not Capable of being made use off for that purpose.

4. Reply of Blechinden and Mores

Extract from the Answers of Richard Blechinden and Edward Mores [1719]

The design for the new buildings, by George Clarke and Nicholas Hawksmoor, was innovative and housed Library, Chapel and Hall in one central block with the entrances linked by an open arcade facing west onto a quadrangle open to the garden on the opposite side. This elegant plan is shown in Michael Burghers’ 1720 engraving.

5. Burghers 1720

Engraving of the west side of the Hall, Chapel, and Library block by Michael Burghers, 1720

It is interesting to note that the Hall and Chapel windows shown here are slightly different, and more central, than the evenly spaced openings that were eventually built, but also that the pillars inside both Hall and Chapel were a part of the original design and not an addition by James Wyatt, who designed the interior in the late-eighteenth century.

6. Benefactors book extract cropped

Extract from the entry for Margaret Alchorne, died 16 June 1717, in the Worcester College Benefactors Book

As recorded in the Benefactors Book, building work on the Hall, Chapel, and Library block began on 8 June 1720, 19 years to the day after the death of the founder, using the benefaction of Margaret Alchorne. It was recognised at the time that this benefaction alone would be insufficient for such a grand project, and that the College would be dependent on “contributions from our freinds [sic]” to complete it. Although there is little documentary evidence of the construction, it seems that building work continued in fits and starts as further funds became available.

7. Clarke bond

Bond from George Clarke to Worcester College that he will leave £1,000 in his will for the completion of the Library, 9 May 1733

The Library was the first room to be completed, as it was needed to house George Clarke’s collection of books, prints, drawings and manuscripts which he generously left to the College on his death in 1736. It was only finished through the loan of £1,000 from Roger Bourchier, one of the first fellows of the College in 1734, against Clarke’s legacy as detailed in the bond above. It appears that lack of funds for their completion left the Hall and Chapel as empty shells until their interiors were completed by James Wyatt in 1784 and 1791 respectively.

8. Wyatt drawing for east end of hall

9. Wyatt drawing for south side of the Hall

Designs by James Wyatt for the east (window) and south (fireplace) sides of the Hall, 1784

Wyatt’s designs for the Hall survive in the College Library. They were used as the basis for the last major renovation of the Hall and therefore show it much as it has been since 1966 with large false doors at the western end, an elegant chimney piece and decorative plasterwork. However, the colour shown in Wyatt’s drawings is an off-white which agrees with C. Henry Daniel’s recollection of the Wyatt Chapel as “covered in stone-coloured paint” (Daniel and Barker, Worcester College, p. 213), rather than the green tones chosen in the twentieth century.

10. Amphlett Diary Hall in 1864, before Burges

The Hall in 1864, from the diary of John Amphlett

One of the great treasures of the collections relating to the Hall is this photograph from the diary of John Amphlett, who went up to Worcester in 1864. This photograph dates from that year and is the only pictorial record of the Hall with James Wyatt’s original decoration in situ. The presence of the tables and benches still used in Hall today, in a photograph which predates William Burges’ 1877 decoration, strongly implies that they were part of the Wyatt design. The only major change that can be seen is the screen between the pillars which created a small entrance lobby and protected diners from drafts from the door.

11. Chapel today

Worcester College Chapel, decorated by William Burges, with windows by Henry Holiday

1864 was also the year in which the College famously commissioned William Burges to decorate the Chapel, which he did in a magnificent riot of colour and imagery, covering the plasterwork designed for the space by James Wyatt. In 1872 the College felt that the Hall could also use some attention and again approached Burges for a design.

12. Haig painting for hall

William Burges’ design for the hall, painted by Axel Haig, 1873

William Burges produced a typically exuberant and elaborate plan for the redecoration of the Hall, beautifully realised by Axel Haig in this painting of the proposals. It included a full-height chimney piece featuring the College coat of arms and a five-foot-high statue of St Lawrence (who is not connected with the College in any other way that I am aware), red painted walls with a depiction of white stretched draperies, an elaborately painted ceiling, and a proposal that the College paintings should be cut down to a uniform size so as not to spoil the effect of the scheme. Burges’ plans were vastly over the budget available and at first he refused to produce a cheaper one. However, the Governing Body were adamant that the costs must be reduced and in 1876 Burges submitted a new set of drawings.

13. Burges drawing of window

Design for the stained glass window at the east end of the hall, by William Burges

14. Burges drawing of fireplace

Design by William Burges for the fireplace in the Hall, 1877

The watered-down Burges scheme kept the armorial panels around the walls, shown in the Haig painting, but the height of the chimney piece was reduced, as shown in this sketch by Burges. The painting above the panelling was also simplified to a yellow blocked out with red simulating brickwork, with a polychromatic ceiling. Mercifully the suggestion to cut down the College paintings was also dropped.

15. The Hall in 1893

The Hall in 1893, from Joseph Foster’s Oxford Men and their Colleges

16. The Dining Hall c1900

The Hall c1899, from the souvenir photograph album of Arnold Lawson (1901)

William Burges’ scheme for the Hall, as it was finally realised, is shown in these two images from the end of the nineteenth century. The painted walls and ceiling can clearly be seen, as well as the inlaid panelling, carved doors and large fireplace. However this version of Burges’ vision for the Hall, already greatly reduced from what he had originally intended, was reduced still further in the twentieth century: the ceiling was painted a plain colour in 1909, and in 1927 the screen between the pillars was removed and the pillars and walls above the panelling were painted a plain buff colour. Burges’ beautiful carved doors were plastered over at the top and more pictures hung. The Hall became a strange mix of nineteenth century below and twentieth century above (Worcester College Record 1964-1966, p. 20).

17. Hall in 1966, before restoration

The Hall in 1966, just prior to the ‘restoration’ of James Wyatt’s scheme

In 1965 the College announced its intention to remove the remnants of William Burges’ Victorian scheme and return the Hall to an eighteenth century style based on the James Wyatt drawings in the Library. A small but vocal group of alumni, led by former Provost Sir John Masterman, vehemently opposed this change but to no avail. In response Masterman personally paid for a complete photographic record of the Hall in 1966 before the change.

18-19 merged

A selection of images from Sir John Masterman’s album recording the ‘Burges’ Hall in 1966


20-21 merged horizontal

A selection of images from Sir John Masterman’s album recording the ‘Burges’ Hall in 1966

In the summer of 1966 the last vestiges of Burges’ scheme were removed and the opportunity was taken to install underfloor heating and new lighting around the cornice. The large marble fireplace with the College coat of arms was given to the National Trust for Knightshayes in Devon (another property originally designed by William Burges). Photographs of the 1966 work in the Archives show that traces of Wyatt’s plasterwork were found under the Burges panelling and remnants of the dado were found under panelling on the west wall.

22-23 merged

Photographs of the Hall during the renovation of 1966

The survival of the dado was particularly important for the ‘restoration’ as it differed substantially from that shown in the surviving Wyatt drawings, and therefore improved the accuracy of the redecoration.

23-24-25 merged

The dado in James Wyatt’s drawing; as found behind the Burges panelling in 1966; and a sample moulding from 1966

27. Hall in 2015

The Hall in 2015

The successful renovation of the Hall in 1966, restoring the delicate eighteenth century room designed by James Wyatt, was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “a more pleasing Hall”, although he also cautioned that the College would regret removing the Burges scheme in 50 years (Sherwood and Pevsner, Oxfordshire, p. 223). This latest renovation comes 52 years after the last but, despite Pevsner’s predictions, does not attempt to restore Burges. Instead the Wyatt scheme is brightened and embellished in line with current research. It is an exciting reinvention of a Hall with a colourful past.

28. Hall in April 2018

The Hall in April 2018


Emma Goodrum (Archivist)



James Campbell, ‘The Hall’, in Worcester College Record 1964-1966, pp. 10-20

C. Henry Daniel and W. R. Barker (eds.), Worcester College (1900)

Joseph Foster, Oxford Men and their Colleges (1893)

Emma Goodrum, ‘An Eighteenth-Century Enigma: Margaret Alchorne and Worcester College’, in Worcester College Record 2017, pp. 74-84

Eleonora Pistis, ‘Dr George Clarke, Nicholas Hawksmoor and the Design of Worcester College’, in Jonathan Bate and Jessica Goodman (eds.), Worcester: Portrait of an Oxford College (2014) at pp. 38-45

Jennifer Sherwood and Nikolaus Pevsner, Oxfordshire (1974)


Worcester MS 1: The Life of the Black Prince

First page of manuscript

‘Cy commence une partie de la vie et des faites

Darmes dune tresnoble Prince de Gales et Daqui-

taine quauoit a noun Edward eigne filitz au

Roy Edward tierce queux Dieux assoille.’

So begins Worcester MS 1, a ‘life and deeds of arms of the most noble prince of Wales and Aquitaine named Edward, son of king Edward the third, on whose soul may God have mercy’ (the translation is that of Barber, Life and campaigns, page 85).  This manuscript dates to the late fourteenth century, not long after the composition of the poem it transmits.  Written on vellum, ‘in an admirable hand’ (Mathew, The court of Richard II, page 115), with carefully rubricated headings, the volume is one of the earliest items in the Library’s collection.

Chandos Herald’s Vie du Prince Noir was composed in 1385 and celebrates the life of Edward of Woodstock (1330-1376), the Black Prince of chivalric legend, just nine years after his death.  In Old French verse, it was written to commission (perhaps for John of Gaunt, but possibly even for Richard II, son of the Black Prince – see Barber, Life and campaigns, page 84) by the domestic herald of Sir John Chandos (d. 1370), a member of the prince’s inner circle.  As such, his herald (the author of this poem) was well placed to witness events in the Black Prince’s life, events recounted in the poem: the Black Prince’s capture of the French King John II at Poitiers in 1356 (lines 1411 ff.); his marriage to Joan of Kent and rule in Gascony (lines 1585 ff.); and, in especially full detail, the Spanish campaigns of 1366-67, conducted to restore Pedro of Castile to his throne (lines 2515 ff.).

Folio 36r

Folio 36r: the beginning of the Spanish campaign

The Chandos Herald is likely to have served in the Spanish campaigns, and thus provides eyewitness testimony.  Froissart, the great narrative chronicler of the first half of the Hundred Years War, seems to have drawn directly on this poem for information (Barber, Life and campaigns, page 84) and it is rightly recognised as an important historical source (Pope and Lodge, Life of the Black Prince, page liv).  Whilst the historical merits may outweigh its literary success, in terms of French literature it is ‘one of the few examples we have of French biographical writing on contemporary figures in the fourteenth century’ (Tyson, La vie du Prince Noir, page 1).  The Herald, who was later made king-of-arms in England by Richard II, is thought to be of French origin, from the Hainault region (as was the Black Prince’s mother, Philippa of Hainault).  By contrast, the manuscript’s scribe was not a French-speaker, so although a good copyist he provides a ‘miserable travesty of the Herald’s poem’ (Pope and Lodge, Life of the Black Prince, page xxxiv).

The manuscript came to the Library as part of the bequest of Dr George Clarke in 1736.  In addition to Clarke’s usual monogram (in the top right-hand corner of the recto of the first leaf), it also bears witness to another earlier owner, William le Neve (bap. 1592, d. 1661), first Mowbray and then Clarencieux Herald: his signature is on the first and last leaves.

SignatureSignatureThis heraldic link is undoubtedly fitting, given the poem’s author.  Indeed, the manuscript did not escape its heraldic connections: the volume is accompanied by a letter of May 1719 to Clarke from John Anstis (1669-1744), also to become Garter king of arms and author of a history of the Garter, The register of the most noble Order of the Garter (London, 1724).  He thanks Clarke for the loan of this manuscript, which Anstis found ‘very valuable in many respects’.   In addition to noting the eyewitness quality of Chandos Herald’s work, Anstis praises this copy as ‘very fairly written, the names of the Englishmen right spelled, the Chronology exact, and the Epitaph on the Black Prince at the End is the very same that Prince ordered in his will’.

Address on letterLetter page 1Letter page 2The Worcester manuscript has continued to be used by scholars: in 1842, it was the basis of H.O. Coxe’s edition, printed for the Roxburghe Club. (Coxe (1811-1881), Bodley’s Librarian from 1860, was himself a Worcester man, matriculating in 1829.)  In 1883, Francisque Michel used it for his version, Le Prince Noir: poème du Héraut d’armes Chandos.  Both these editions were superseded by Pope and Lodge’s 1910 publication, the first treatment to subject the manuscript to an exhaustive historical and linguistic study (Miss Pope identified the language of the poem as the Hainault dialect of French.)  Indeed, until the mid-20th century, the Worcester manuscript was considered the only surviving manuscript of the poem.  In 1953 that changed, however, with the discovery of a manuscript in the University of London Library; the London manuscript has been recognised as slightly earlier, with therefore a text closer to the original.  (For details of the manuscript stemma, see Tyson, La vie du Prince Noir, page 9.)

Nonetheless, the Worcester copy remains an exciting item in the Library’s collections.  Over 600 years old, in a fine hand on vellum, still with beautiful illumination, it shows how early the view of the Black Prince as a heroic model of English chivalry was crystallised.

Mark Bainbridge



Barber, R., Life and campaigns of the Black Prince (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1986)

Coxe, H. O., The Black Prince: an historical poem, written in French, by Chandos Herald (London: printed for the Roxburghe Club by W. Nicol, Shakespeare Press, 1842)

Mathew, G., The court of Richard II (London: John Murray, 1968)

Michel, F., Le Prince Noir: poème (London and Paris: Fotheringham, 1883)

Pope, M. K. and E. C. Lodge, Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910)

Tyson, D., La vie du Prince Noir by Chandos Herald (Tübingen: Max Niemayer, 1975)

‘Legislation for the unrepresented is tyranny’

Pamphlets Relating to Women’s Suffrage, c. 1870 – 1918

‘It is not merely that they pay rates and taxes and ought to have a voice as to their distribution and expenditure, the far broader human truth remains, legislation for the unrepresented is tyranny. Women suffer as women, as wives, and as mothers from evil laws, and ask to have a direct voice in so reforming these laws that they shall protect, not the selfish interest of either sex or of any class, but the larger, deeper, more vital interests of humanity itself, of justice for to-day, of hope, and progress for the future.’ – Elizabeth C. Wolstenholme Elmy, The emancipation of women (1888)

This month, in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 on February 6th, which first extended the parliamentary franchise to some women in Britain, we are delving into both our nineteenth-century pamphlet collection and the College Archives to look at some of the ephemera published in the course of the campaign for women’s suffrage.


Image from the satirical pamphlet Beware! A Warning – to Suffragists, by Cicely Hamilton (1909).

The organised campaign for women’s suffrage began in 1866 with the ‘Ladies Petition’ to parliament, which requested that the vote be granted to all householders regardless of sex (Wingerden, The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain, p. 2). John Stuart Mill then proposed an amendment to the 1867 Representation of the People Act to enfranchise women. The amendment was defeated, but the organised movement for women’s suffrage was born (Wingerden, Women’s Suffrage Movement, pp. 11-15).

Under various organisations and titles, suffragists continued to campaign for voting rights, as well as other women’s rights, for the next 60 years. Progress for suffrage was slow – the parliamentary franchise would remain out of reach until 1918 and was only granted on equal terms with men in 1928 – but the movement achieved many other legislative successes in the areas of maternal rights, property rights, and local voting rights (Wingerden, Women’s Suffrage Movement, pp. 37-39).


Image from the satirical pamphlet Beware! A Warning – to Suffragists, by Cicely Hamilton (1909).

Our pamphlet collection contains a number of publications from the 1870s – 1890s on the topic of women’s suffrage, both in favour and in opposition, and showcasing the diversity of the movement. There are reports of meetings held by women’s suffrage organisations, reprints of letters published in the press, petitions, and more substantial publications on the topic. As with most of our pamphlet collection, these probably came to the Library through the eclectic collecting habits of Henry Allison Pottinger (Librarian 1884-1911) – indeed a number of them still bear his stamp.


The campaign for women’s suffrage was not monolithic and this can be seen in the pamphlets we hold. The pro-suffrage pamphlets vary from authors seeking only enfranchisement for unmarried or widowed property holders, to those seeking full legal and political equality with men (though what this entailed changed over the course of the century as the male franchise expanded). In particular, there was a substantial division in the movement over the vote for married women, which resulted in a number of prominent activists, including Emmeline Pankhurst, Harriet McIlquham, and Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, breaking off to form a more radical organisation, the Women’s Franchise League (Wingerden, Women’s Suffrage Movement, p. 61). One of our most interesting pamphlets is the Report of Proceedings at the Inaugural Meeting: London, July 25th, 1889 of the Women’s Franchise League, in which Mrs McIlquham lays out the case for insisting that married women be included in any extension of the franchise to women. Throughout the text, there are annotations which appear to be roughly contemporary with the text. Next to a reference to a noted anti-suffragist, our annotator has written ‘now converted’, and the address on the back of the pamphlet has been updated, which suggests that the annotator was associated with the movement or acquainted with those involved. The annotator has also underlined and commented on key passages in the text.


We also hold a number of pamphlets written by those who opposed women’s suffrage, which are also varied in their arguments and approach. For the modern reader, it is somewhat astonishing to read of the apocalyptic consequences some opponents foresaw as the result of female enfranchisement. One pamphlet writer even argued that enfranchising women would eventually lead to the destruction of free institutions and the rule of law. Writing in 1875, Goldwin Smith begins by stating that ‘It may not be easy to say beforehand exactly what course the demolition of free institutions by female suffrage would take,’ but he goes on to provide a number of ideas (Smith, Female Suffrage, p. 19).

Cartoon of pro-suffrage women

An image by C. Hedley Charlton from Beware! A Warning – to Suffragists, by Cicely Hamilton (1909).

Similar dire warnings are satirized in a pamphlet from the College Archives: Beware!  A warning – to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (1909) (extracts feature in the illustrations accompanying this piece). While assertions such as Smith’s seem almost comical now, the sway that this concept of female political incapacity still held over society, and parliament in particular, must have caused suffragists no end of frustration. Some sense of this can be felt in Mona Caird’s letter to the Manchester Guardian in 1891, which was reprinted as a pamphlet entitled ‘The Position of Women’. She writes of the man who believes women have no business in political life:

‘“Woman,” he says from this vantage ground – “woman was not made to meddle in politics.” How he knows this one vaguely wonders. One also wonders if he has authentic information that man, on the other hand, was fashioned for that august purpose, and if so, why he has so frequently disappointed his creator.’

Many of the pro-suffrage pamphlets are written as replies to the arguments put forward by anti-suffragists and indeed we have ephemera from both sides of a war of words and petitions which played out in the press in the summer of 1889. In June 1889, Mrs Humphrey Ward appealed in Nineteenth Century magazine for signatures to protest against women’s suffrage (Wingerden, Women’s Suffrage Movement, p. 61). The result was a nearly 30-page list of women’s signatures to a statement arguing that female enfranchisement would be ‘distasteful to the great majority of the women of the country – unnecessary – and mischievous to both themselves and to the State’ (Signatures to the Protest Against Female Suffrage, reprinted from the ‘Nineteenth Century’, No. 150, August 1889). Suffragists were quick to reply to Humphrey Ward’s appeal and in July 1889 they published in The Fortnightly Review their own extensive list of signatures in favour of women’s suffrage, as well as an article criticising the arguments of the ladies in opposition (Women’s Suffrage: A Reply, reprinted from ‘The Fortnightly Review’, July 1889).



Though the writers of many of our late nineteenth-century pamphlets seemed certain that success was just around the corner, from hindsight we can see that it would take the massive social upheaval caused by the First World War to scuttle the foundation of ‘separate spheres’ which underpinned the resistance to parliamentary enfranchisement for women. But finally in 1918 women over 31 were given the vote and in the archives, as part of the Hadow papers, we hold a programme for a meeting of thanksgiving held 13 March 1918. Millicent Fawcett, President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), later wrote that they had “held no great meetings in support of Women’s Suffrage during the Great War…But in March 1918 we felt we must have one meeting of thanksgiving for the Parliamentary victory we had gained” (Fawcett, What I Remember, p. 249).

Millicent Fawcett from programme

Photograph of Millicent Fawcett reproduced in the meeting programme.

This meeting, at Queen’s Hall in London, comprised a number of speeches and also a programme of music by the London Symphony Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Sir Hubert Parry. During the meeting the audience joined the choir in singing ‘Jerusalem’, which Parry had set to music in March 1916, and it was directly in response to this occasion that Parry assigned the copyright of the song to the NUWSS and it became their official anthem. Copyright of the song was transferred to the Women’s Institute in 1928 after the NUWSS was split into two groups following the extension of the franchise to all women over the age of 18.

Central pages of programme

Programme of the meeting with lyrics for “Jerusalem”.

The copy of the programme now in the College Archives belonged to Grace Hadow who attended the meeting. As a member of the Cirencester branch of the NUWSS Grace Hadow campaigned for women’s suffrage from 1912 to 1917. Helena Deneke writes in her biography that “such activity earned Grace unpopularity with the local great; at least she felt it did, but she was ardent in the cause and worked for it steadily” (Deneke, Grace Hadow, p. 54). A fervent admirer of Millicent Fawcett, Grace Hadow was opposed to the militancy of the suffragettes but did later admit that they had advanced the cause, although she considered that the real breakthrough had been the changing role of women in the workplace during the First World War. Grace Hadow later became Principal of the Society of Oxford Home Students (now St Anne’s College), but her connection with Worcester College is through her brother, Sir William Henry Hadow (Fellow 1890-1909). Their niece, Enid Hadow, generously donated her collection of Hadow family papers to the Archives between 1966 and 1969.

Grace and Harry Hadow

Grace Hadow and her eldest brother, William Henry Hadow (Fellow of Worcester College 1890-1909)

While Millicent Fawcett considered the enactment of the 1918 Representation of the People Act as the greatest moment in her life, suffragists were highly aware that they had not obtained the equal suffrage rights for which they had been campaigning since the 1860s. Although the front cover of the March 1918 ‘victory’ programme fittingly shows the blazing sunrise of a new dawn for women, the struggle for universal suffrage would not end until 1928.

Programme front cover

Emma Goodrum (Archivist) and

Renée Prud’Homme (Assistant Librarian)



Deneke, Helena, Grace Hadow (London: Oxford University Press, 1946)

Dibble, Jeremy, C. Hubert H. Parry: his life and music (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992)

Fawcett, Millicent Garrett, What I Remember (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1924)

Smith, Harold L., The British Women’s Suffrage Campaign 1866-1928 (2nd ed. Harlow: Longman, 2007)

van Wingerden, Sophia A., The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain, 1866-1928 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999)

The George Clarke Print Collection

2018 began in Worcester College Library with a bit of post-Christmas exercise.  It was the heavy-lifting of huge folio volumes containing hundreds of prints, together with the manoeuvring of large single sheets like the 1700 print of the Nouveau Plan de la Ville de Paris Capitale du Royaume de France, which measures 796 x 1000 mm.  All are part of the George Clarke Print Collection: around 8,000 prints, in 76 bound volumes, together with c. 600 unbound items.

Folio albums

Map of Paris

Nouveau Plan de la Ville de Paris Capitale du Royaume de France (Paris, 1700) / published by Claude Rocher

This is not a newly discovered collection: Timothy Clayton’s 1992 article provides a comprehensive introduction, and the whole was catalogued in the late 1990s by Clayton and Benjamin Thomas (see  It is good, however, to see continued interest in what is a very rich and important resource.  George Clarke’s collection is still complete, preserved in the contemporary albums and arranged as Clarke intended.  As Professor Mark Ledbury (Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, and Director of the Power Institute, University of Sydney), who led the visit by delegates from the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies annual conference which occasioned the Library’s display of these prints, says:

“The collection, [although] less well known than other collections in the UK, notably the Pepys collection, … in some ways is fresher and richer – both in its completeness but also for what it might tell us about how ‘Tory taste’ needs nuancing – Clarke was in dialogue with contemporary artists in Britain and France, and combined his ‘blue chip’ collecting with more adventurous forays into contemporary art.”

George Clarke

George Clarke / Circle of Godfrey Kneller

George Clarke (1661-1736), Fellow of All Souls, Tory politician, architect and collector, held various offices under the Tories, including secretary at war to William III, before being appointed to the commission of the Admiralty in 1710.  He was also secretary to George, Prince of Denmark.  At the death of Queen Anne, however, he lost office.  Nonetheless, Clarke remained MP for the University and he was able to indulge his architectural interests, playing a part in most of the University building projects of his time.  He designed, for example, the Warden’s Lodgings at All Souls and completed Henry Aldrich’s designs for the Library at Christ Church; he worked with Hawksmoor and Thornhill at Queen’s College; and collaborated with Hawksmoor on the Codrington Library at All Souls.  He collected not just books, but also drawings and prints – all of which were left to Worcester on his death in 1736.

All Souls

Latus Australe Atrij interioris, collegij Omnium Animarum.  Oxon.  (Oxford, 1717); designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor; engraved by Henry Hulsbergh; private publication

For his print collection, Clarke tended to buy modern, contemporary, French prints, ‘considering them better engraved and more informative than sixteenth-century ‘antiques’ ’ (Clayton, ‘The Print Collection of George Clarke’, page 124).  Indeed, the informational content of the print was important for Clarke, who kept his prints untrimmed, preserving all the textual information on them.  As Clayton notes, this is because the texts often provided information about the collections where paintings were held, in addition to a painting’s owner, size, and provenance, all of which ‘responded to an increasing interest in connoisseurship’ among print collectors in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-centuries (Clayton, ‘The Print Collection of George Clarke’, page 125).

Clarke intended his collection for use.  The prints have been arranged into three main subject categories (architecture, portraiture, and painting) and within those Clarke has made further subdivisions.  Unsurprisingly given his architectural interests, that part of the collection is by far the greatest and the architectural albums are the most formally organised volumes, coherently arranged by place.  Clarke separated portraiture from painting, with a focus on portraits of 17th– and 18th-century individuals, that is, historical figures of his own and his father’s generations.  Finally, in painting, Clarke was devoted to particular painters: Raphael, Poussin, Antoine Coypel, Charles le Brun, Salvator Rosa – prints after these and other painters were each arranged in their own album.

Raphael print

Seven Cartons of Raphael Urbin that King Charles ye I bought (London, 1721) / designed by Raphael; engraved by Nicolas Tardieu; published by Thomas Bowles and Francois de Poilly

As Ledbury explains:

“[Clarke] had a particular interest in French architecture, both at Versailles and in the Paris, that, in the last years of Louis XIV’s reign and in the Regency was becoming a magnet for new money, and new architectural ambition. He also collected contemporary prints after key antique and Renaissance works, particularly those of Raphael and Poussin. All this was familiar territory for the Amateurs of the early eighteenth century, but Clarke’s collection notably includes prints after contemporary art (Watteau, Charles-Antoine Coypel and even early Hogarth prints found their way into his collection).”

Hogarth prints

Top: A Modern Midnight Conversation (London, 1733) / designed by William Hogarth; engraved by John Clark; published by John Clark and Bispham Dickinson; Bottom: Sketch of a Topeing meeting / engraved by John Simon

The collection is interesting not only in itself, but also for the archival pieces that accompany it: papers from Clarke’s friend the Anglo-Irish painter Charles Jervas (1675-1739) describing the arrangement of Raphael paintings in the Vatican; correspondence from the Secretary of State for Ireland Edward Southwell (1671-1730) in 1726 describing the print market in Rome; wrappers for the delivery of prints ‘To Dr Geo: Clarke, Oxon’; and Clarke’s ‘shopping lists’ for Jervas, listing prints Clarke wanted Jervas to acquire for him, drawn up using the print catalogues of the de Rossi printing house.


Such pieces give some idea of how Clarke acquired his prints.  Clarke owned houses in both Oxford and London, major printing locations, and so there is little mystery over his acquisition of English prints.  He travelled to Paris and Fontainebleau for three months from May 1715, so it is likely that he bought some of his French prints on the French market.  Indeed, ‘Paris, Juillet 1715’ is inscribed on the front endpaper of Album 38 (a collection of plans and elevations by the French engravers Jean and Daniel Marot).  Yet Clarke, despite his great interest in Italy, never made it there and so, as these letters and lists make clear, he had to rely on friends acting as agents to purchase prints for him on the Italian market.  Indeed, in the end, it was only through his prints and other collections that Clarke could travel in Italy.

Colosseum print

The Amphitheatre of Titus at Rome (London, 1730) / engraved by Bishop Roberts; private publication

Mark Bainbridge (Librarian)


Clayton, T., ‘The Print Collection of George Clarke at Worcester College, Oxford’, Print Quarterly, vol. IX, no. 2 (June 1992), pages 123-141

Tales by the Yule Log Fire

A Sheath of Yule Log Stories, Edited by the Rev. A. D. Crake, B.A., Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Oxford and London : Mowbray & Co., M.DCCCLXXXVIII.

For the end of the year, we have a Christmas treat: A Sheath of Yule Log Stories was published in 1888 by the Rev. Augustine Crake (1836-1890), a schoolmaster and clergyman best known for his works of history for children. Crake was an Oxfordshire native, born in Chalgrove, and worked as a schoolmaster at All Saints School in Bloxham, among other places, before settling eventually as a vicar in Berkshire (Seccombe, ‘Crake, Augustine David (1836-1890)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). He was married to Annie Lucas, daughter of John Lucas, who worked for many years as an assistant in the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford (Seccombe, ODNB; Burley and Plenderleith, A History of the Radcliffe Observatory Oxford, pp. 79-82).

Title page

Crake’s Yule Log Stories is a collection of tales told to him by friends and relations during childhood Christmas visits to the Lake District. In the preface he assures readers that only two of the stories are original and that the others ‘are nearly all founded upon facts, real or supposed, related to me by different individuals’.

There are no illustrations, but each chapter begins with a small woodcut decoration and capital.

The collection is introduced with a nostalgic description of the lakes and the remote farm house where young Crake spent his Christmas.

‘Oh how my heart beat with joy when I saw the Pillar mountain, and Red Pike in the distance, what visions of skating and sledging by day, and glorious evenings around the cheerful fire, in the huge cavernous chimney-place, where I generally contrived to get one of the corners, watching the snow flakes, hissing as they fell from the darkness above, into the cheerful flames.’ (p.3)

Preparing for Christmas Eve

‘Preparing for Christmas Eve’ by H Garland, The Illustrated London News, 19 December 1868 (p. 589)

Each chapter begins with brief descriptions of days spent skating and sledging, playing games, and attending Christmas services, before settling down to the serious business of the evening story by the fire. The collection has the feel of a children’s storybook but Crake’s stories are not for the faint of heart – ghosts, robbers, and murderers dominate the tales told by grandparents, uncles, and visiting friends. In his preface Crake writes:

‘These particular stories lie on the border land between the seen and unseen ; they may be very incredible ; but they will serve to pass away the happy time around the Yule Log, when mythic stories are most acceptable.’

The stories range from local ghosts and legends to a Wild West tale from a Canadian cousin and a dramatic military escapade from a French schoolmaster. Grandfather and grandmother tell the first two stories of lucky escapes from robbers. While out hunting on Christmas Eve, grandfather lost his way in a snowstorm and had nearly given up hope when…

‘…I saw – a light! I hurried towards it, my strength renewed by hope; I crossed ravines, half choked with snow; I emerged on the open moor. Yes, it was the light from a window, but what window? Now I was close: why, it was a Gothic window – a kind of church window; how came it there on the moor? Now I saw through it all, it was the abbey – the old ruined abbey – raising its form in the darkness before me…’ (p. 12)

He remembered his uncle’s tales of the haunted abbey and proceeded with caution, but found only an empty room with a roaring fire. While warming himself and dozing before the fire, he was awoken by a sound…

‘…It was the sound of solemn music, and it seemed to come from the ruined chapel… I thought that a single voice intoned “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” when the whole choir took up the strain, “pax in terra hominibus bonæ voluntatis,”… I remembered all at once that this was Christmas night, when the monks of old were wont to chant their midnight mass, and a thrill of awe passed through me. Could it be that the spirits of those long departed votaries were permitted to re-enact the scenes of their past worship on earth on this night of nights?’ (p. 14)

He went to investigate, which was fortunate because as soon as he was out of sight, the earthly inhabitants of the ruined abbey, ‘six foul midnight assassins’, returned. After becoming aware of grandfather’s presence, a deadly pursuit ensued, in which our assassins met rather sticky ends. Grandfather thankfully survived to tell the tale, and marry grandmamma.

Night the second

Grandmother is not to be outdone and the next night she tells her own tale of a narrow escape at Christmastime. When grandfather was called away to visit his sick sister, she was left alone, but for the maid, on Christmas Eve. As night fell, old Martin’s big black dog, ‘that ugly Rover’, appeared at the house and demanded to be let in. The women admitted him, but after a quiet evening by the fire…

‘…It was now time to go up to bed, and we lit our bedroom candles, when, to our astonishment, Rover manifested a great disapprobation of our proceedings, barked, whined, pulled at our dresses, and in every way a dog could, signified his pleasure that we should stay down stairs.’ (p. 29)

The women eventually went to bed but were woken in the night by growling and the sounds of a scuffle…

‘We both sprang out of the bed and hurried to the window, whence we saw two men dragging a third by the legs out of the casement of the scullery… while from time to time he uttered stifled groans mingled with curses. They tore him away from the dog, which seemed to have him by the throat…’ (p. 32)

They went downstairs and discovered a knife dropped by the intruders, making clear that their visit was not a friendly one, and the dog had saved them from a terrible fate.

‘But how did the dog know? Who sent him? No man can answer that question. Martin only knew of his absence; but I doubt not WHO it was.’ (p. 34)

Alongside these tales of adventure and gentle supernatural aid are more sinister ghost stories (which were not necessarily set at Christmastime). An uncle tells of a terrifying visitation from a ghost of a woman who murdered her own children; a cousin shares a family legend of a witch who curses the children of the family; another cousin tells the story of a haunted farm nearby; and in the final story of the volume, the parson shares a story of a priest who is visited by the skeletal ghost of a monk seeking absolution. The audience does not shy from these tales of terror – indeed they demand them:

‘“Let it be about ghosts,” – and a pleasant shiver ran around, for we liked a tale of diablerie best of all.’ (p. 75)

The ghost at Lone Leaze Farm

The children in Crake’s stories were hardly alone in demanding a ghost story at Christmas. An oral tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas dates back at least to the eighteenth-century, but it was the Victorians who really established the Christmas ghost story in print (Moore, Victorian Christmas in Print, p. 82). Charles Dickens is of course the most famous Victorian writer of supernatural Christmas tales and though his were not the first Christmas ghost stories, his influence on the development of the genre was substantial. Following the publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843, there was a proliferation of ghosts in the expanding market of Christmas gift books (Moore, Victorian Christmas, p. 82; for more see Moore, Victorian Christmas in Print, chapter 4). Crake’s book is typical of Victorian Christmas books in that the tales are presented using a ‘frame story’ – a technique where the author creates a setting for storytelling, in this case the young Crake visiting family in the Lake District, and then presents various tales within that setting. The frame story was a way of adapting the traditions of oral storytelling to print and allowed the reader to feel a part of the traditional storytelling circle (Moore, Victorian Christmas, p. 85).

Christmas Eve

‘Christmas Eve – putting up the holly and mistletoe’, The Illustrated London News, 22 December 1855 (p. 721)

Like many of our interesting nineteenth-century pamphlets, our copy of Yule Log Stories likely came to the library from the collection of Henry Allison Pottinger (Librarian 1884-1911), who was known for his eclectic collecting habits. From an inscription opposite the title page we can see that it was given as a gift from the author himself.

Inscription from the author

We don’t know who the Misses Broad were – perhaps family or the children of friends – but it is easy to imagine several young girls sat by their own fire at Christmastime, delighting in these tales of adventure and mystery.

Christmas stories

‘Christmas Stories’, The Illustrated London News, 24 December 1892 (p. 809)

Renée Prud’Homme (Assistant Librarian)


Burley, Jeffery and Plenderleith, Kristina (eds.), A History of the Radcliffe Observatory Oxford: the Biography of a Building, (Oxford: Green College, 2005)

Moore, Tara, Victorian Christmas in Print (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Seccombe, Thomas, ‘Crake, Augustine David (1836-1890)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), accessed 12 December 2017,

Worcester College and the First World War

Letter from an Australian Cadet, 23 June 1918 (PDR 21/1)

Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, during the University’s Long Vacation. Many College members immediately joined the armed forces and did not return for Michaelmas Term, while others joined up in the following months. Worcester gradually emptied of undergraduate members; by December 1914 nearly half of the rooms available to undergraduates were empty, a fact that was unusual enough to be noted in the Room Rent book by the Bursar as the College had operated at maximum occupancy during the previous year.

Room Rent Book

Annotation by the Bursar in the Room Rent book, Christmas quarter 1914

To aid the war effort, this empty space in the College was used first as quarters for an Officer Training School, and then for C. Company of the Officers’ Cadet Battalion. These men were trained by the army and were not matriculated members of the University or members of the College, and we therefore have very little information in the College Archives about the individuals who were quartered here.

Cadets on the Main Quad steps

Cadets on the steps of the Main Quad

A recent addition to the Archives, a letter from an Australian cadet billeted at Worcester College to his mother, goes a small way towards filling that gap. The letter is on headed notepaper with the College coat of arms and address (the envelope was also emblazoned with the same arms) and gives some details of life in the College during the First World War.

letter head

Letterhead of C. Company, No. 6 Officer Cadet Battalion, Worcester College

The letter writer, Lionel de Souligny Stapleton Kingsborough, was born in Kent Town, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia, on 3 October 1888. He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 28 March 1916 and embarked for service overseas in September that year, arriving in Plymouth on 14 November. He was sent to France with the 5th Pioneer Battalion in February 1917 and, according to his medical records, was “slightly gassed” in May 1917.

On 7 June 1918 Lionel Kingsborough joined No 6. Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford having qualified for a commission, and was billeted at Worcester College. It must have seemed like another world after his experiences on the Western Front, and he opens the letter hoping that he will see out the war in Oxford, before going on to describe some of the fun they have been having:

Dear Mother

As you see I am still holding this front, and I guess it would do me for duration. We’re getting more used to the discipline and work, it doesn’t seem so hard as it did. Time hangs a bit heavy sometimes on our days off…I’ve spent most of it on the river as I think I told you. Last Tuesday we held a regatta and I entered for a sculling race but did not expect to do anything with only a week’s training and I didn’t. I had to row the Colonel to see who would represent the company and beat him easily but was badly beaten in the semifinals. Then two of us entered for a canoe race and came third out of six, another canoe from here coming second. We finished up with a gondola race. Eight men with paddles in a punt and it’s good fun especially for the onlookers. One punt capsized and we nearly did and came in half full of water and as nobody had been at it before every punt wandered all over the river.

letter p1letter p2&3

letter p4

Letter from Lionel Kingsborough to his mother, 23 June 1918

Slightly disappointingly, Lionel Kingsborough does not describe the College or give his opinion on his accommodation, but he does have praise for the food, with the exception of the bread:

Considering the conditions here and the rationing we are very well fed. The bread is the worst part of it. It’s very dark and stoggy [sic] but we have as much as we need and we get plenty of everything else even to eggs with our bacon at times.

This would have been satisfying to the Bursar, F. J. Lys, whose correspondence file relating to cadets is full of letters and calculations about food and rations. For a daily fee of between 4s. 9d. and 5s. 3d. per cadet the College was required to meet all outgoings including food and lodging, fuel and light, baths, rates, taxes and insurance. In June 1918 there were 150 cadets in College, including Lionel Kingsborough, making work for the Bursar, the regular college servants, and five additional servants hired to work as scouts on their staircases. In contrast, there were fewer than a dozen undergraduates in residence.

One area in which the files in the Archives are detailed is the damage to College property by cadets; it was necessary to document it fully in order to be able to claim the costs back. The files therefore reveal that the cadets hung flags on the gateway above the entrance to the College on armistice day, 11 November 1918, because they damaged a rosette in the ironwork. Half of the rosette was taken by a cadet as a memento despite Lys’ efforts to have it returned, although he did consider that the College was “very lucky at a time of so much excitement not to have had any more damage done”. The elaborate Victorian railings at the front of the College were in fact removed by Provost Lys in 1938 to restore the eighteenth-century facade to “its original proportions”. The current gate and railings were installed in 1950.

Front of College c1908

Worcester College from Beaumont Street, showing the former railings, c1908

Lionel Kingsborough was not at Worcester for the armistice celebrations that damaged the railings. In October 1918 he contracted influenza and was sent to the No 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield Park, Middlesex, where he remained until after the armistice. He returned to Australia in February 1919 and was invalided out of the army in March, his illness deemed to have been aggravated by military service. He married in 1927 and had one son, Michael.

The College did not immediately empty of cadets following the armistice. The majority of those billeted in College in 1918 were from Australia, New Zealand, and British colonies, and their numbers necessarily decreased slowly. In January 1919, there were still 53 cadets and 3 officers resident, although the number of undergraduates returning after demobilisation was increasing.  However, when asked in February 1919 if he could take more members of the armed forces, Lys was forced to write to the commanding officer that “I think we must now devote ourselves and our resources to our Undergraduates”. Although many of the men returning from military service were older than usual for undergraduates, by 1920 the College had, on the whole, resumed life as it was before the war.

Emma Goodrum (Archivist)



Jessica Goodman, ‘Worcester at War’ in Jonathan Bate and Jessica Goodman (eds.), Worcester: Portrait of an Oxford College (London, 2014)

First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossier for Lionel de Souligny Stapleton Kingsborough, accessed via Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 [database online].  The original is in the National Archives of Australia Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 [database online] compiled from publicly available sources Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950 [database online] compiled from publicly available sources

Memento Mori: London’s Dreadful Visitation

London’s dreadful visitation: or, A collection of all the bills of mortality for this present year: beginning the 27th. of December 1664. and ending the 19th of December following: as also, the general or whole years bill: according to the report made to the King’s most excellent Majesty, by the Company of Parish-Clerks of London, &c.

London : printed and are to be sold by E. Cotes living in Aldersgate-street, printer to the said company, 1665.

[108] pages, folded leaf; quarto.

During the summer the Library hosted participants in a Continuing Education Summer School studying the later seventeenth century.  The same group had visited a year earlier, when they were covering the period immediately preceding, the English Civil Wars and the Interregnum, in which the Library’s holdings are particularly strong (see our blog post for January 2016).  On this occasion, however, they hoped to see items relating to the two great catastrophes of the early Restoration: the Great Plague of 1665-1666 and the Great Fire of 1666.  We have touched upon the Library’s holdings which relate to the Great Fire (see our blog post for September 2016), but what would illustrate the Plague?

A grim publication provided the answer:  London’s dreadful visitation: or, A collection of all the bills of mortality for this present year, beginning the 27th of December 1664. and ending the 19th. of December following.  This catalogue of deaths illustrates the impact of the plague year on the population of London.  The summary bound in at the back of the volume, A general bill for this present year, ending the 19 of December 1665 according to the report made to the kings most excellent majesty notes that of the 97,306 persons buried in the parishes of London in this period, 68,596 (70%) died of the plague.

A general bill for this present yearThe bills of mortality were weekly publications, listing death statistics for all the 109 parishes of London.  Always the responsibility of the Parish Clerks’ Company, the weekly bills began on 21 December 1592, continuing at first until 18 December 1595; they were resumed in 1603 and in 1611 King James I granted a charter to the Company for their production (see Adams, The parish clerks of London).  They continued until the mid-19th century.

Unusually for a time when printing was heavily controlled (for fear of the seditious ideas to which the printing press could give wing), in 1625 the Company of Parish Clerks were authorized to set up their own printing press (Adams, The parish clerks…, page 55).  They had, however, to provide a bond of £500 to the Stationers’ Company, stating that they would not use the press for any purpose other than the production of the bills.  In 1665, the Printer to the Company of Parish Clerks was ‘E. Cotes living in Aldersgate-street’.  Ellinor (or sometimes Ellen) Cotes was the widow of the printer Richard Cotes, who had taken over his brother Thomas’ printing shop when Thomas died in 1641.  Ellinor then took over the shop when Richard died in 1652 and was active until at least 1670.  Hers was a reasonably large shop for the time; according to the 1666 Hearth Tax Roll, she had 3 presses, 9 pressmen, and 2 apprentices (see the British Book Trade Index).  She has produced a grim, but informative pamphlet with a ghoulish woodcut border of skeletons, skulls, and the tools of the gravedigger, all under a ‘Memento Mori’ banner and a winged hourglass.  These are fitting symbols for a time when the plague could rip through the city, killing at its worst 7,165 in a single week (the 12th-19th September 1665).

Title pageAvailable at the cost of a penny, the bills provided ‘an ever-changing plague map of London, which you could check to find out where the infection was raging and where you might hope for relative safety’ (MacGregor, Shakespeare’s restless world, page 231).  Our volume is a collection of the weekly bills.  Each week is covered by a single quarto sheet, the recto providing information alphabetically by parish.  The page layout includes a column for plague deaths, emphasising that it was fear of this highly contagious and deadly disease that was a prime motive in the production of the bills.

Burials by parish, week ending 31 OctoberThe verso of the sheet quantifies the information by cause of death and sex of the deceased.  The spread of the plague through the city can also be noted in the distinction between ‘Parishes clear of the Plague’ and ‘Parishes Infected’.

Burials by disease, week ending 31 OctoberAs the printer notes in her preface ‘To the Reader’, given the difficulty in 1665 of finding information on the 1625 Plague outbreak, ‘the Reprinting [of] these sad sheets’ has been undertaken ‘That Posterity may not any more be at such a loss’, and indeed at first sight the bills seem to provide a wealth of mortality data.  However, one must remember that the bills record burials rather than deaths.  Since they also cover only Church of England graveyards, those of other faiths are excluded.  Nonetheless, John Graunt (1620-1674) was able to use the bills as the basis for his Natural and political observations… upon the Bills of Mortality (London, 1662), for which he was elected a member of the Royal Society.  And from the perspective of 352 years later, even if only partial the volume provides a chilling statistical account of a year when about one in six of the capital’s inhabitants died.

Mark Bainbridge (Librarian)


Adams, R., The parish clerks of London (London and Chichester: Phillimore, 1971)

British Book Trade Index, available online at

MacGegor, N., Shakespeare’s restless world (London: Allen Lane, 2012)