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Image for the news item 'Nikolaus von Heideloff's 'The Gallery of Fashion' (1794-1802)' on 13 Jan 2021

Nikolaus von Heideloff, The Gallery of Fashion (London, 1794-1802).Top row, left to right; Plate 1: ‘Morning Dresses’ (September, 1794); Plate 2: ‘Morning Dresses’ (September, 1798); Plate 3: ‘Morning Dress (left) and Afternoon Dress (right) (July, 1796); Plate 4: ‘Lady at Harp’ (April, 1795);  Plate 5: ‘Two Ladies, en negligé, taking an airing in a phaeton’ (August, 1794); Middle row, left to right; Plate 6: ‘Court Dress’ (1794); Plate 7: A Lady going out on horseback’ (June, 1795); Plate 8: ‘Riding Dress for Hyde Park’ (May, 1797); ‘Plate 9: ‘Morning Dresses for Hyde Park’ (April, 1797); Plate 10: ‘Morning Dresses for a Bathing Place’ (September, 1797); Bottom row, left to right; Plate 11: ‘Morning Dresses for a Bathing Place’ (1797); Plate 12: ‘Morning Dress for a Watering Place’ (October, 1795); Plate 13: ‘Bathing Place’ (October, 1798); Plate 14: ‘Two Ladies at Breakfast, in their Dressing-Room’ (November, 1794).

This week’s rare book is The Gallery of Fashion, one of the earliest English fashion magazines, published in London between 1794 and 1802. Its publisher, Nikolaus von Heideloff (1761-1837), was born in Stuttgart and started his career in Paris. At the outbreak of the French Revolution he fled for safety to London, where he lived until in 1815 he was appointed director of the collection that is now the Mauritshuis in The Hague. In the words of his ‘Advertisement,’ von Heideloff regarded his magazine as not only of interest to ‘Ladies of the highest fashion’ but it was also ‘submitted to the admirers of the fine arts’, so staking an implicit claim that clothes and fashion represent an art form.

The Gallery was published in monthly instalments and Emmanuel’s copy in the Graham Watson Collection is bound in nine volumes for each year of publication. Such a complete set in such a fine state is a very rare survival and differs from some other copies in having an uncoloured plate included alongside the coloured plate in 38 cases – presumably for the use of subscribers in composing their own variations on the colour combinations shown in the plates. The list of subscribers is of the grandest, including daughters of George III, along with Duchesses, Marchionesses and Countesses, but also featuring such surprising subscribers as the Ottoman Embassy in London. Many subscribers are men, presumably on behalf of their wives, and many lady subscribers opt to remain anonymous, like ‘A Lady at Philadelphia’. Although early issues could be purchased individually by non-subscribers, von Heideloff soon went over to subscription only – which meant the latest fashion trends were first known exclusively to subscribers. But it could also be a two-way relationship, with subscribers gaining the kudos of publishing their own fashion-leading innovations: ‘Several Ladies of Rank and Fashion’ have allowed von Heideloff to ‘make drawings of their new dresses’ and ‘thus the credit of the invention of the different dresses will be secured to the Fair Subscribers who contribute to the embellishment of this work’.

Published by an immigrant refugee from the French Revolution in the midst of the long wars with France, this new English magazine of high fashion perhaps inevitably displays some edgy competitiveness with the notion of French leadership in fashion. For von Heideloff ‘This work, so necessary to point out the superior elegance of the English taste, is the first and only one ever published in this country; it surpasses anything of the kind formerly published at Paris …’

The English claim to primacy is that contemporary English fashions emulate the simplicity of Ancient Greek dress: ‘France has given her dresses to the other nations, but it was reserved for the Graces of Great Britain to take the lead in Fashion, and to show that, if they do not surpass, they certainly equal the elegance of the most celebrated Grecian dresses. In short, beauty, shape and taste are nowhere more general, nor anywhere better united, than in England …’

To a modern eye these fashions do often have – at least when seen free of the clutter of accessories – an elegant simplicity of line, with their very high ‘Empire line’ waistlines. The profusion of cloaks, bonnets, gloves and muffs is explained by the fact that dresses at this period tended to be made of quite thin material … brrr!  A Grecian inspiration was also suggested by the fashion for wearing white, especially in the evening. To wear white implicitly signalled wealth and leisured status, in that white was so easily soiled and would need cleaning (by someone else).

To a modern viewer the Gallery’s elegant plates will seem like visualizations of scenes from Jane Austen’s novels, particularly when the young women are shown reading novels or letters (Plates 1-3), or at such ladylike diversions as playing the pianoforte (Plate 4) or playing the harp while wearing an elaborately tall headdress of ‘three white ostrich feathers with a bandeau crossed with flowers’ (Plate 5).  The plates for each month show examples of dresses for the morning (when one might take the air), for afternoons, and for the evening at concerts, the opera and receptions. There is usually an example of Court Dress, which mostly tends to be the very opposite of supposed ‘Grecian’ simplicity (Plate 6).  There is much depiction of fashions to be worn during periods of mourning – not only in black but in gradations of grey and white – since mourning, which might be worn even for quite distant relatives, was frequently required. There are some strikingly smart riding habits (Plate 7) , which very much suggest the impact that a self-confidently styled woman might achieve outside in company if dressed to impress in such a way, as in a scarlet one worn with ‘a black beaver hat trimmed with purple velvet riband and two black feathers’ (Plate 8). Backgrounds where included sometimes imply ample gardens and grounds, with some elegant garden furniture, while a few scenes seem to admit that English fashions will need to contend with wind and rain (Plate 9). The backgrounds to quite a few of the plates acknowledge the fashionable new craze for being at the seaside in new resorts and watering places (Plates 11, 12), as in the plate that shows two young ladies rather perilously perched on a cliff edge with a beach with bathing machines far below (Plate 10), or a lady with a telescope and ‘a black beaver hat trimmed a la militaire’ (Plate 13). One rather revealing plate (Plate 14) depicts two young women breakfasting in their dressing-room before the fashionable day begins, although their nightcaps and dressing gowns are still as elegant as their splendid silver tea-service and richly patterned carpet .

The first decades of the nineteenth century – loosely ‘the Regency’ – may now seem synonymous with elegance, and in depicting something of it The Gallery of Fashion is one of the most beautiful books on costume ever published, and certainly the finest example of coloured aquatint as applied to fashion plates.

 

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'A Gift Horse (always look in the mouth)' on 12 Jan 2021
Left: The Bronco Buster. Right: Professor J. Frank Dobie at Emma in 1944

On a window sill in the Gallery, surrounded by portraits of stern-faced early college Puritans and Platonists, sits a most incongruous work of art: a large bronze statuette of a rearing mustang trying to unseat its rider. The sculpture is a casting of ‘The Bronco Buster’, perhaps the most famous bronze produced by Frederic Remington (1861-1909), an artist celebrated for his evocative paintings, drawings and sculptures on the theme of the American Wild West. Inevitably Remington’s art has been subject to recent revisionism, but there is no denying his surpassing technical skill.

‘The Bronco Buster’ was a gift to the college from J. Frank Dobie, a convivial Texan who lived at Emmanuel for more than a year after being appointed Visiting Professor of American History in 1943. Dobie was very popular with Fellows and students alike, enduring with good humour the meagre rations and freezing rooms of the wartime college (although he frequently sought refuge, with other dons, in the toasty warmth of The Anchor). After his return to the USA he looked around for a suitable gift to send Emmanuel in token of his ‘deep and abiding’ gratitude, and chose Remington’s sculpture because, as he explained to the college, the ‘cowboy riding a pitching horse…has plenty of animation and represents something that I belong to and something that belongs to America’. The bronze arrived at London Docks shortly before Christmas 1946, all costs having been pre-paid by Dobie, according to the New York agents who had organized the shipment. The college blithely requested that the statuette be forwarded to Cambridge immediately, but HM Customs & Excise had other ideas, and a lengthy war of words ensued.

The nature of the gift was crucial, for ‘commercial’ products were subject to duty and purchase tax, whereas ‘Works of Art’ and antiques might in some cases be exempt. Emmanuel’s Senior Tutor, Edward Welbourne, made a good case for the bronze’s being considered both a work of art and a museum piece, and threw in for good measure Professor Dobie’s contribution to the War effort and his continuing role in fostering good Anglo-American relations. Even Welbourne’s legendary eloquence, however, could not move the flint-hearted Customs officials, and eventually the college had to concede defeat and fork out not only purchase tax of 100%, but also import duty, port charges and ‘Dock Attention’ fees, which came to a total of £13.14.7, nearly three times the bronze’s estimated value. One of the parties involved observed that ‘the donor would be horrified to know what his present has cost!’, and indeed he was, for although the college would have kept the knowledge from him, matters dragged on for so long that Dobie eventually enquired whether his gift had arrived safely, at which point the college had to come clean. The professor immediately insisted that he should pay all the outstanding charges, but Welbourne replied that it was ‘not at all clear that we shall allow you to remit anything’, and there the matter appears to have rested.

The statuette was finally released by Customs in December 1947, nearly a year after its arrival. There was initially ‘some perplexity’ as to where it should be placed, but a window recess in the Gallery was adjudged suitable, and the bronze has remained there ever since, for is not a piece to be moved lightly. Professor Dobie paid a return visit to Emmanuel in 1949, and maintained warm relations with the college until his death in 1964. By that time memories of the trouble caused by what Welbourne called the ‘loathsome and absurd purchase tax’ had faded, and the mettlesome bronco had become, and remains, a genuinely welcome gift horse.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'A December Feast at Emmanuel' on 10 Dec 2020
: left: Sir Walter Mildmay,1588; right: Sir Walter’s signature in the college statutes, 1587. The decorative flourish contains a monogram of his initials, followed by the letter ‘C’ for Chancellor

Emmanuel College, founded by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer, admitted its first students in November 1584, but it was not until December 1587 that all the necessary building works had been completed and the college could hold a formal dedication ceremony. The Founder was to be present, and as this was akin to a royal visit, there was a flurry - one might almost say frenzy - of activity to get the place looking its best. In the weeks leading up to the celebrations, the college accounts contain numerous payments for paving, glazing, carpentry, painting, cleaning and general fitting-up; a clock was acquired and housed, a new privy was built, and there was a payment for ‘dressing all rooms against our founders coming’, while the ‘founders chamber’ where Sir Walter was to sleep was whitewashed and furnished with a door. The external appearance of the college must also have been thought to require beautifying, for the street outside the college was paved and ‘clensed’, and the ‘great gates’ at the entrance were taken down and set up in a new position. The inner court of the college was weeded, and ‘quickset’ hedges were planted in the gardens.

The dedication ceremonials included a service in the new chapel, for which two desks had been purchased ‘to lay the bible on’, and a feast in the Hall. This banquet must have been a glittering affair, literally, for a large consignment of new pewter tableware had been sent up from London. Packed in straw, inside baskets secured with cords, were platters, dishes, ‘sawcers’, porringers, salts, candlesticks, trays, pans, pots and kitchen utensils. The food served at the feast was also worthy of the occasion, for the highlights were two does, sourced from nearby Somersham Park, and a ‘cragg of sturgeon’ delivered to the college by the Cambridge carrier Thomas Hobson (of ‘Hobson’s Choice’ fame). As it was winter, the college laid out thirteen shillings ‘on coals at the dedication’.

During the Founder’s visit a new chapter was added to the college’s copy of the foundation statutes, recording Sir Walter’s desire that a particular chamber (now D3) should be reserved in perpetuity for the use of any of his kin who wished to reside at Emmanuel ‘for the purpose of study’.  If no Founder’s kin required the room, the Master was permitted to assign it to a student of his choosing, ‘having regard to equity as well as to the dignity and deserts of the person’, but if any kin subsequently claimed the room, the occupant was to vacate it ‘forthwith’. Sir Walter signed off the new chapter with an elaborate flourish and either he, or the chirographer, added the date ‘December 1587’ in the margin.

The Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University was an honoured guest at the dedication feast, and he penned a fulsome thank-you letter that Uriah Heep might have admired:

To the Right Honourable Sir Walter Mildmay Knight one of her Majesties most Honourable Privy Councill. What joy and comfort we received at the late dedication of Emanuel College founded by your honour, and brought to perfection in so short a space, I may not seek to express sufficiently by these my letters. As then we joined together in humble prayers that God might bless the same to his honour, and the benefit of his Church and the Common Wealth, so we rejoice not a little that by the insertion of the College, such a beauty and ornament also, is added to the University. Wherefore I thought it my humble duty…not only to give my humble thanks to your Honour for the same, but also to shew our thankfulness in accepting it: and to declare how willing I shall be to show such our favours to the said College as shall lie in my power. I may not trouble your Honour with many words, wherefore humbly taking my leave, I beseech God to continue your Honour to the great benefit, as of the whole realm so of this her Majesty’s University. Your Honours humble to be commanded, Thomas Legge Procon. Cambridge 20 December 1587.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'Graham Walker’s 'The Costume of Yorkshire' (1814)' on 10 Dec 2020
Graham Walker, The Costume of Yorkshire (London, 1814) Top Row, left to right; Plate 1: Collier; Plate 2: Stone Breakers; Plate 3: Cranberry Girl; Plate 4: Croppers; Middle Row, left to right; Plate 5: Wensley Dale Knitters; Plate 6: Woman Spinning; Plate 7: Factory Children; Plate 8: The Fool Plough; Bottom Row, left to right; Plate 9: Riding the Stang; Plate 10: Rape Threshing; Plate 11: Bishop Blaize; Plate 12: Midsummer Eve.

Continuing the theme of books on ‘costumes and customs’ is Graham Walker’s The Costume of Yorkshire (1814), which the title page declares to be ‘Descriptive of the Peculiar Dress, Occupation and Manners of Various Inhabitants of that Extensive and Populous County’.  This celebrated book appeared in various contemporary versions, in different sizes and qualities of paper. Graham Watson, a patriotic Yorkshireman,  collected four different ‘states’ or versions of the book for his collection, now in Emmanuel Library. Our illustrations are taken from the rarest of these: the ten unbound booklets in which the book was first issued. The plates reflect some of the uneasy changes of the time, with illustrations of working practices in the wool and cloth-making trades, which were being overtaken by mechanization, and newer occupations such as mining alongside depictions of an age-old rural and upland way of life. Especially interesting are the illustrations recording some traditional customs and observances. The accompanying text is printed in both English and French.  

Plate 1:  Collier

Here is the new industry of the West Riding. Behind the rather jaunty figure of the collier are the mines and one of the new steam engines which, ‘constantly employed’, can convey waggons of coals from the pits to Leeds, far beyond what horse-power could carry.

Plate 2:  Stone-Breakers

With few sources of gravel in Yorkshire, local roads were made up of broken stones. Large pieces brought from quarries were then broken up at the roadside, and the text laments that there is as yet no mechanization of this backbreaking labour.

Plate 3:  Cranberry Girl

Women foraging for cranberries on the moors.  The text extols the Yorkshire cranberries as greatly superior to those found in America or Russia.

Plate 4:  Croppers

After the wetted wool has been combed with teazels it is clipped or cropped, as in the process shown in the plate.  This traditional way of working was in the process of being replaced by mechanization in mills, and the contemporary croppers were an anxious and discontented workforce.

Plate 5:  Wensley Dale Knitters

During any activity where the hands were not necessary the frugal inhabitants of Wensleydale engaged in knitting – ‘young and old, male and female, are all adept at this art’ – and the plate indeed shows everyone busily knitting. The text cites the example of a woman who each week walks three miles to market and three miles back, with her family’s weekly knitting to sell in a bag on her head, all the while knitting as she walks, and so producing en route ‘a complete pair of men’s stockings’.

Plate 6: Woman Spinning

Spinning by a wheel at this date had already been largely overtaken by mechanization, but it was still needed for ‘the warp of woollen stuffs, in which a strong hard twisted thread is required. The demand is even yet sufficient to employ a considerable number of poor people, to whom the low wages of about one halfpenny per pound weight may be an object’.

Plate 7:  Factory Children

The text observes that the West Riding abounds in cotton mills and ‘cloth manufactories’ and that these ‘furnish employment, food and raiment to thousands of poor industrious individuals. It is much however to be lamented that this is too frequently at the expense of health and morals’. As to the illustration: ‘The little blue dirty group in the Plate are painted in their true colours’ and the text laments the lack of youthful colour in their polluted complexions and lack of ‘the pure air necessary for health’.

Plate 8:  The Fool Plough

Plough Monday, the first Monday after the twelve days of Christmas, was the ploughmen’s holiday. The plate represents ‘a ludicrous procession on that day, not unlike that of the Mummers and Morris-Dancers’. The plough-driver is depicted ‘with a blown bladder on the end of a stick by way of a whip,’ along with a fiddler, ‘a huge clown in female attire,’ and ‘Captain Calf Tail … dressed with a cockade and calf’s tail, fantastically crossed with various coloured ribbands’. This last character is both ‘orator and dancer’, while the plough driver hits the others with the bladder ‘with great and sounding effect’.

Plate 9:  Riding the Stang 

This is an ‘ancient custom still observed in some parts of Yorkshire’, intended to ridicule domestic abuse where any husband ‘has suffered himself to be beaten by his virago of a partner’. The stang is the pole on which a young man is mounted, riding on the shoulders of others, while beating on an old kettle or pan with a stick and reciting a speech which was known as a nominy, including the lines:

                           She bang’d him, she bang’d him …

                           She struck him so hard, and she cut so deep,

                           Till the blood run down like a new stuck sheep …

The revellers head towards a tavern. The inn sign reads The Good Woman and shows a headless woman (good because speechless?). Inside a man and woman are fighting.

Plate 10:  Rape Threshing

Rape was much grown in Yorkshire, but the seed is so prone to scatter and be lost that it was quickly harvested and threshed in the fields where it grew, with sheets spread on the grown to collect the seed. Hundreds of people gathered to do this, ‘bountifully supplied at short intervals with meat and drink’, and so ‘of all the rural occupations, there is none more cheerful and joyous’. There could be a party atmosphere and to the right two women are avoiding a bundle of rape which is about to be hurled at them, for as the text notes ‘This is one of the long-established jokes upon these riotously merry occasions’.

Plate 11:  Bishop Blaize

St Blaise is the patron saint of wool-combers and – suitably rebadged Bishop Blaize to avoid regrettable Popish associations – the wool-combers held a celebratory procession on his festival, 3 February. This procession on a woolly theme shows the masters and their sons on horseback, followed by apprentices, a marching band, impersonations of the King, the Queen and the Royal Family, their guards and attendants, Jason and the Golden Fleece (on a long pole), bishop and chaplain with attendants, shepherd and shepherdess with crooks on horseback, followed by shepherds with crooks, then wool-sorters and wool-combers, some with wool caps and woolly wigs. It looks like a lot of fun.

Plate 12:  Midsummer Eve

The plate illustrates a ‘custom still observed in some parts of Craven and other districts of Yorkshire’.  The custom is that ‘New settlers in a town or village, on the Midsummer Eve immediately succeeding their arrival, set out a plentiful repast before their doors of cold beef, bread, cheese and ale. Those of their neighbours who feel inclined to cultivate their acquaintance sit down and partake of their hospitable fare, and thus eat and drink themselves into intimacy’.

‘Every custom which tends to promote social intercourse and hospitality should be zealously encouraged’ declares the text, and this sentiment of our forebears speaks loud and clear to us across two centuries at the end of this necessarily most unsocial of years.

With thanks to all our loyal readers for their ‘clicks’ during 2020 – we bloggers live for clicks – and with hopes for a better New Year.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'William Alexander's 'Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English' (1814)' on 25 Nov 2020
Top row, left to right: Plate 1, Plate 2, Pate 3, Plate 4; Middle row, left to right, Plate 5, Plate 6, Plate 7, Plate 8; Bottom row, left to right: Plate 9, Plate 10, Plate 11, Plate 12

Clothes! What a perennial – even obsessive – object of fascination they are, not least in their perplexing insistence in looking so much better on others than on oneself.

Clothes are a significant theme among the hand-coloured books from c.1770-c.1850 in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection. An interest in the ‘costumes and customs’ of foreign lands was an important aspect of that curiosity for armchair travel to which such books catered.  But there are also books responding to a taste for the high fashions of the moment, recording fabulous attire that was the last word in elegance in its day. These will be the subject of future blogs.

This week’s rare book, Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English (1814) is one of a set by William Alexander (1767-1816) which aims to please the armchair traveller with its plates of the exotic costumes worn by the diverse subjects of the Austrian, Russian, Chinese and Ottoman Empires. Alexander, who became the first Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, had been junior draughtsman on Lord Macartney’s embassy to the Emperor of China in 1792-4 and his drawings were engraved for the official record. Alexander had already published The Costumes of the Russian Empire (1802) and The Costumes of China (1805), and this volume devoted to English costume could hardly match the variety of dress in these extensive empires. It is, however, notable for including plates showing the dress of ordinary tradespeople, especially in London, and this week’s blog focusses on these memorials of many humble lives and vanished occupations.

Plate 1:  Farmer’s Boy.

The plate shows ‘The usual dress of the farmers’ servants in the southern parts of the kingdom’. The over-smock is usually stitched or plaited on the front ‘in a fanciful manner’. It is evidently thirsty work since ‘The small keg seen on the ground contains his beverage’.  As always, there are regional variations: ‘The peasantry and farmers’ servants in the southern counties of England are far behind their brethren in the more northern parts both in the cleanness and neatness of their dress …’

Plate 2:  Dustman

Dustmen collected ashes from houses and were employed by those who had purchased from each parish the right to remove such ashes. Dustmen announced their presence by ringing a bell; they carried the ashes out in baskets to waiting carts. Since ashes were used in the manufacture of bricks, this collection of ashes became very profitable to parishes.

Plate 3:  Fireman

The first company insuring buildings against fire had been formed in 1698, and other companies followed that insured all kinds of property against fire. Each company maintained engines and firemen on standby to assist their own clients. A company’s firemen wore a badge on their right arm with the company’s device. They wore a cap reinforced to offer protection from falling materials and carried a pick-axe to remove anything preventing water from the engines from reaching the flames.

Plate 4:  Billingsgate Fish-Woman

The text grumbles that an ancient bye-law still requiring all fish in London to be sold through Billingsgate market has created a monopoly, but notes that small quantities of inferior fish are ‘bought by poor persons, chiefly females, who obtain a livelihood by selling them about the streets.’ This fish-wife is perhaps shown with her mouth open because ‘Their manners and language are of the lowest and most brutal kind …’

Plate 5:  Milkmaid

The commentary describes the London milkmaids as ‘a hardy set of women, chiefly Irish or Welsh’ and records their daily rounds. They report to the dairies between 4.00 and 6.00 a.m. to collect the milk which they are then vending from house to house. At noon they go back to the dairies for fresh supplies, which they then sell until 6.00 p.m. Their pails are of tin suspended from a wooden yoke across their shoulders. The text estimates that some 8000 dairy cows were kept around London to supply the trade and that the value of the milk sold stood at £480,000 a year.

Plate 6:  Drover

The text notes how cattle and sheep for Smithfield market are brought as far as Islington on the preceding day and then, early on the following day, driven to Smithfield by ‘a number of men and lads termed drovers’. The text observes: ‘The cruelty with which these people were accustomed to treat the animals … called so loudly for the interference of the legislature, that a regulation was adopted a few years ago by which they are all now compelled to wear a badge with a number upon it, so that any person may give information at the proper office, in cases where they are seen guilty of cruelty or other improper conduct …’

Plate 7:  Chimney-Sweeper on 1st May

‘It is a custom (probably derived from the numerous May-games once prevalent in this country) for little groups of chimney-sweepers to parade the streets of London on 1st May and three or four following days, dressed in the most ludicrous manner, with all the faded tinsel finery they can procure … some accompanied with a drum, others with a fiddle [but sometimes they have nothing to use but their shovels and brushes] … They solicit the donations of the public and, where successful, repay it by a rude kind of dance …’

Plate 8:  Barrow-Woman

The text comments that of all the itinerant traders on the London streets those who sold fruit were probably the most numerous. ‘They are almost all females from the sister kingdom [i.e. Ireland], and generally fix their stand at the corner of a street, or wheel their wares about in a barrow …’

Plate 9:  Postman

Describing arrangements before railways enabled the Victorian invention of a national postal service, the text notes how all letters addressed to London residents are delivered between 10.00 and 12.00, Monday to Saturday, by postmen dressed in their livery. These postmen then go round London between 5.00 and 6.00, sounding a bell and collecting any letters not already ‘put into the various receiving houses’.  Mail is then despatched out of London around 8.00 p.m.

Plate 10:   Night Watchman

Each parish maintained night watchmen who patrolled the streets every half hour, proclaiming aloud the time, between 9.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. in winter, 10.00 p.m. and 4.00 a.m. in summer. The text grumbles that ‘This species of police is not so efficient’ and implies that watchmen connive in ‘the frequent depredations committed upon property and persons during the night …’

Plate 11:  Welsh Women

The plate depicts ‘the mode in which the Welsh peasantry wash their linen’, rinsing it in a stream, then beating it with a wooden spatula, repeating several more times before spreading it somewhere to dry in the sun. ‘The Scottish peasantry follow the same method with their linen, after first soaking it in water and then treading it with their bare feet …’

Plate 12:  Newsman

The text notes how, in addition to the regular deliveries of newspapers at an early hour each day, ‘there are a number of idle characters who hawk the evening papers about the streets, frequently to a late hour, particularly when they contain any extraordinary news’.  On these occasions ‘they place a paper in the front of their hats containing the words ‘Second Edition’, ‘Important Intelligence’, or some equally striking words, while they announce their presence with a tin horn, which they blow with the utmost vehemence, to the no slight annoyance of every person that comes in their way …’

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


explore Vane Glory

Image for the news item 'Vane Glory' on 10 Nov 2020
Left to Right; John Breton’s portrait, showing the newly-completed chapel; detail of the weather vane, from the Loggan engraving; detail of the bell-turret from the Breton portrait

This week, College Archivist Amanda Goode explores the interesting history behind the Front Court weather vane. While the vane may be a familiar sight to many of us, Amanda explains that the vane has had numerous incarnations in its history.

As the late-autumn winds swirl about Front Court, a glance at the weather vane on top of the chapel bell-turret informs us of their direction. The vane itself is likely to be more than 200 years old, for it matches the one shown in engravings made in the earliest years of the nineteenth century. Consisting of an arrow backed by a plain gilded oblong, the vane is functional rather than decorative, in marked contrast to its predecessor, which was a much more flamboyant affair.

An early depiction of the chapel, the exterior of which was finished in 1673, can be seen in the background of the college’s portrait of John Breton, Master of Emmanuel during the period of construction. The chapel was, as we all know, designed by Christopher Wren, and although his one surviving drawing of the building does not furnish it with a weather vane, Breton’s portrait is evidence that such a feature had been set into the carved stone ‘flaming urn’ that crowned the bell-turret’s cupola. A more detailed depiction can be seen in David Loggan’s 1688 engraving of Front Court, which shows the weather vane to have comprised several stages of fancy baroque metalwork. The lowest stage may have been a compass pointer, above which were two ‘mirrored’ pieces of ornamental scrollwork. Then came the vane itself – a representation of the lion rampant from the college’s coat of arms. Above the lion’s head was a crown (a public advertisement of Emmanuel’s loyalty to the restored monarchy), and, for the finial, a cross.

The building accounts for the chapel contain two references to the weather vane. On August 9th 1676 the college paid £2 4s 8d to ‘Thomas Wiseman the painter for work done long since about the Fane; & Lyon &c’. A few weeks later, on 25th September, John Wardall (a blacksmith) received £9 5s for, amongst other things, ‘Worke about the Cupula & the new Fane’. The Breton picture, while not possessing the crisp detail of the Loggan engraving, clearly shows that the upper stages of the weather vane – the lion, the crown and the cross – were gilded, for the unknown artist depicts them gleaming brightly in a shaft of sunlight. The aureate lion held his post above the chapel for less than a century, for at some date before 1775 the bell-turret underwent modifications that included the installation of a clock, the replacement of the leaded windows with louvres (a change happily reversed two centuries later) and, it may be surmised, the removal of the flaming urn and original weather vane.

The urn, a symbol of eternal life, was replaced with a fashionable feature usually, if erroneously, called a ‘pineapple’ (the late Dr Frank Stubbings, college Fellow and classicist, preferred to refer to it as an acanthus bud). Purists may censure the substitution, for the ‘pineapple’ does not match the two flaming urns that had been mounted, in accordance with Wren’s drawing, at the extreme ends of the pediment below the bell-turret. The original ‘pineapple’ was replaced in 1966, and its successor will also eventually weaken. Perhaps, when that time comes, the college might consider reinstating both the flaming urn of Wren’s design, and the glorious golden ‘Lyon’ that once ramped above Front Court.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'The history of books and their borrowers – a new research project' on 9 Nov 2020
Figure 1: This page of the Borrowers’ Register of the Leighton Library, Dunblane, shows the borrowings of Dr Robert Love of Callander in 1796. By kind permission of the Trustees of the Leighton Library. Photograph © the author. Leighton MS25, University of Stirling Archives.

Having studied English at Emmanuel, Dr Katie Halsey (1995) is now a Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature at the University of Stirling and has published a number of books and articles on Jane Austen and the history of reading.  In this blog piece, she tells us about her current project on the history of libraries in Scotland, which looks set to uncover hidden histories of book use and which books are really important to national history.  

In June this year, I began a large Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) funded project, ‘Books and Borrowing: An Analysis of Scottish Borrowers’ Registers, 1750-1830’ (https://borrowing.stir.ac.uk). The aim of the project is to uncover and reinterpret the history of reading in Scotland in the period 1750 to 1830, via an analysis of the borrowers’ registers (also known as loans books, receipt books, and borrowers’ books) of 17 historic Scottish libraries. These registers, as depicted in Figure 1, normally record the date of borrowing, author and title of book borrowed, and the name of the borrower. In some cases, they also record the address or occupation of the borrower, and other incidental details. From this, we know that represented in our records are farmers and farm workers, factors, gamekeepers, shepherds, blacksmiths, lay preachers, boltmakers, vagabonds, poachers, merchants, glovers, maidservants, coachmen, soldiers and sailors, as well as schoolchildren and members of the professional and leisured classes. We aim, at the end of the project, to have 150,000 records of borrowing digitised, and to have analysed and interpreted them to identify patterns and trends in the circulation of books across Scotland.

Evidence for the borrowing of a book is not, of course, evidence for the reading of a book (I am sure many of us have borrowed books from libraries that we never got round to reading, or began and didn’t finish, or only skimmed!). But what these records (many of which have never been systematically analysed) do provide is a much firmer evidentiary base of book circulation than has previously existed. From this evidence, we hope to start to challenge (or to confirm) existing narratives about which works were actually influential in our period. Preliminary analysis of our records suggests, for example, that accounts of the Scottish Enlightenment as predominantly secular are likely to be challenged by our data, since the borrowing of sermons, works of practical divinity and other theological works currently account for a very large percentage of our borrowings, well beyond the high Enlightenment period and even on into the 1830s. Similarly, the writers of the literary movement now thought of as Romanticism hardly appear in our records, even in the 1820s and 1830s, while largely forgotten poets of the eighteenth century appear much more frequently. Conversely, existing scholarship, based on publication and sales data, that suggests Lord Byron and Walter Scott were the most popular writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is probably correct.

We are, of course, still in the very earliest stages of the research, and our first few months have been largely dedicated to data collection, rather than to analysis, so these preliminary hypotheses may still be overturned when we are able to analyse and interpret the full body of records by the end of the project in 2023. Nonetheless, we’re confident that our findings will be of interest! Please do have a look at our News pages to find out more about what the project team are currently doing.

Katie Halsey (1995) 


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: William Daniell's 'A Voyage round Great Britain'' on 29 Oct 2020
Top Row, left to right; Plate 1: Combe Martin, North Devon; Plate 2: Barmouth; Plate 3: Loch Duich; 2nd Row, left to right; Plate 4: Loch Scavig; Plate 5: Loch Coruisk; Plate 6: Fingal’s Cave; 3rd Row, left to right; Plate 7: The Old Man of Hoy; Plate 8: Shiant Islands; Plate 9: Ardnamurchan; Bottom Row, left to right; Plate 10: Slanes Castle; Plate 11: Beachy Head; Plate 12: Cumaes Head, Pembroke

In A Voyage round Great Britain (1814-1825), with its no fewer than 308 aquatints, William Daniell (1769-1837) created one of the most important of all colour-plate books on British topography and pioneered appreciation of coastal scenery more largely. Many copies have been broken up over the years by dealers in topographical prints, so that Emmanuel’s copy in the Graham Watson Collection is now a rare book, and in remarkably pristine condition.

Orphaned at an early age, William Daniell lived with his uncle, the landscape artist Thomas Daniell (1749-1840), and in 1784 went to India as his uncle’s assistant, travelling and sketching extensively throughout India. Not returning to England until 1794, Daniell then spent seven years working from 6.00 in the morning until midnight to perfect his aquatinting skills. The Daniells’ seminal work Indian Scenery, with 144 coloured aquatints, was published over the years 1795-1808. It was both very successful financially and also very influential in shaping a quintessentially romantic popular vison of India that perhaps still persists.

But Daniell’s greatest venture was his innovative project to record the coastal landscape of the whole island of Great Britain. After decades of the craze for picturesque uplands and rivers, his timing was opportune. As he remarked: ‘while the inland counties of England have been so hackneyed by travellers and quartos, the Coast has hitherto been most unaccountably neglected’. And while Daniell would include plates showing the prosperous coastal cities and calm havens of Britain – and includes the first known depiction of a steamboat, on the Clyde – he also set out ‘to illustrate the grander of its natural scenery … in its wildest parts’. In this, Daniell’s creation of atmospheric effects in the aquatint medium, through his signature cool greys and greens, were exceptionally skilful in promoting a vision of seascape and rugged coastal scenery inseparable from constantly changing weather and shifting light.

Before the advent of railway travel, even to reach the coast of the whole island entailed an immense investment of time and effort. Initial plans to view everything by a sea voyage were abandoned as impractical, and instead Daniell made six long trips each summer between 1813 and 1823, travelling round the coast clockwise and making many risky trips in small boats locally to view coastal scenery from the sea. So in the summer of 1813 Daniell covered the coast from Land’s End to Holyhead, making pencil sketches on the spot of promising views, with notes on colours and textures, and using a ‘camera obscura’ (a mirrored, cloth-shielded box that allowed him to trace the outline of a scene with correct proportions). Back in London each winter, he would create aquatint plates from his sketches.

The number of plates that Daniell devoted to certain parts of the coast reflects an appreciation of the picturesque aspects of coastal scenery that still governs our higher valuation of some sections of the coast rather than others. Thus, Daniell includes a good number of atmospheric views of the coasts of North Devon (Plate 1: Combe Martin) and Wales (Plate 2: Barmouth). The exceptionally fine summer of 1815 allowed him to complete an epic tour in Scotland, sketching the islands of Eigg, Rum, Skye, Raasay, Harris and Lewis, the northern mainland coast, the Orkneys, and then down the east coast as far as Dundee. Daniell’s haul of sketches from this trip led to 139 aquatints and the most visually stunning part of the entire book. By contrast, the whole east coast of Great Britain from Dundee to Southend was felt to merit a mere 28 plates, and the English south coast round to Torquay only 52, yet the south coast of Devon and Cornwall round to Daniell’s starting point at Land’s End is the subject of another 31 plates.

This allocation of pictures is probably still in accord with modern taste in coastal scenery, but the preponderance of scenes from the Scottish Highlands and Islands pioneered a romantic way of viewing such landscape, which would once have been dismissed as desolate and uncultivatable wilderness. Daniell’s distinctive aquatint colouring had a genius for representing sombre and moody scenes of mist, water and sky. These included plates of towering mountains reflected in lochs, as in the plates of Loch Duich (Plate 3: ‘a striking union of the sublime with the beautiful’), or Loch Scavig on Skye (Plate 4), recommended to Daniell by Sir Walter Scott himself, or Loch Coruisk (Plate 5: ‘the rugged and sublime features of the surrounding rocks and mountains’). Other plates cultivate a taste for sheer cliffs with wheeling seabirds, as in a sequence depicting Staffa and a striking view outwards from inside Fingal’s Cave (Plate 6: the text rubbishes all previous artists’ efforts to depict the cave), or the soaring heights of the Old Man of Hoy (Plate 7) , or the beetling cliffs of the Shiant Islands (Plate 8: ‘the flocks of seabirds hovering about this mighty precipice were inconceivably numerous …’).

Above all, Daniell has a genius for depicting the very movement of the sea, as in his plate of the gale-lashed Ardnamurchan (Plate 9), the boiling sea at Land’s End or at Slanes in Aberdeenshire (Plate 10), or near Beachy Head where, with poetic licence, he imagines a wrecked ship breaking up in heavy seas in the foreground (Plate 11).

The accompanying text on coastal scenery is at best uneven but this was not Daniell’s strong point. At first the text was rather well written by Daniell’s friend Richard Ayton (1786-1823), a bright young author and sailing enthusiast. But Ayton was a social reformer who, for example, noted how the boatmen who took them out on a hair-raising boat trip to view the North Devon coast from the sea regarded the rocks as bread to their families and a bit of roast beef on Sundays (‘if it were not for some such impediments, pilots might starve’). Alongside a plate of the coal workings near Whitehaven Ayton wrote movingly of the exploitation of child labour in the mines. Ayton was sacked. Daniell wrote the rest of the text, rather stolidly.

The curiously uncompleted plate of Cumaes Head in Pembrokeshire (Plate 12) seems to be an accidental survival of an uncoloured engraved plate that was never aquatinted in and, by oversight, offers a revealing insight into how the underlying lines and shadings of a plate were laboriously built up. It will seem bizarre to readers today that in 1822 Daniell was elected to the Royal Academy in preference to John Constable by a margin of 17 votes to 11. Yet Daniell remains one of the finest practitioners of aquatint, and his Voyage is a decisive intervention in how British people came to ‘see’ their coastline, both on the ground and in the mind’s eye.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Captain Robert Grindlay in India' on 15 Oct 2020
Captain Robert Melville Grindlay, Scenery, Costumes and Architecture Chiefly on the Western Side of India (1826-30). Top Row, left to right; Plate 1: ‘The Mountains of Aboo’; Plate 2: ‘Hermitage in Kurrungalle’; Plate 3: ‘Aurungabad’; Plate 4: ‘View of Sassour’; Middle Row, left to right; Plate 5: ‘Tomb of the Vizir’; Plate 6: ‘Bridge near Baroda’; Plate 7: ‘Excavated Temple at Ellora’; Bottom row, left to right; Plate 8: ‘Cave Temple of Elephanta’; Plate 9: ‘Temple of Indra Subba‘; Plate 10: ‘Immolation of a Hindoo Widow’.

Among a number of lavish hand-coloured books about India in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection, one of the most striking is Scenery, Costumes and Architecture Chiefly on the Western Side of India (1826-30), with 36 coloured aquatints on thick paper, largely based on sketches by Captain Robert Melville Grindlay (1786-1877).

Grindlay, a self-taught amateur artist, went to India aged 17 in 1803, as a cadet in the army of the East India Company, in which he served until retirement on half-pay in 1820. During his time in the army he travelled widely in India, making many sketches of architecture, antiquities, scenery and customs. Back home in Britain, these sketches were the basis for a series of engravings by some significant contemporary engravers.

Indeed, Graham Watson believed they were among the very finest examples of the art of aquatint in his collection. The plates employ elaborate colouring and use especially deep contrasts; they are full of atmospheric effects, with soft mists and golden sunlight. As images of India they inevitably show Indian scenes and subjects with the Western aesthetic expectations that Grindlay’s audience had about picturesque representation of landscape and architectural space. As images of India they are now inevitably contested – along with most nineteenth-century British images of India – because of their colonialist bias. With the assumptions of his time, Grindlay is not self-conscious about expressing his disapprobation and superiority, though he undoubtedly considered himself an Indophile.

Grindlay’s picturesque approach to depicting Indian scenery is illustrated in various plates, as in ‘The Mountains of Aboo, in Guzerat’ [Plate 1]. This expansive view might have been composed for Western connoisseurs both of beautiful mountain scenery (‘This plate represents a Mountain-Torrent … dashing with impetuosity into a small lake’) and of picturesquely mouldering decay: ‘Most of these mountain shrines have escaped the desolating hand of bigotry and display only the slow influence of time under a benign climate, which has rather increased than impaired their beauty’.

The same eye for picturesque compositions of rocks and trees is at work in depicting the ‘Hermitage at Kurrungalle, in Ceylon’ [i.e. Sri Lanka; Plate 2], and, as the reader is informed: ‘The interior of Ceylon [is] in the highest degree picturesque and sublime’. Grindlay’s report on the effect of hearing the Buddhist ceremonies in these cave temples recalls those agreeable shudders enjoyed by picturesque travellers: ‘The united voices of at least one hundred men … made the cavern resound and had a fine awful effect, producing a thrill through the system, and a feeling and sentiment not to be described’.

The wonderfully picturesque composition in the plate ‘Aurungabad: From the Ruins of Aurungzebe’s Palace … From a drawing made on the spot by Captain Grindlay in 1813’ [Plate 3] looks out through an arch into a receding landscape bathed in golden light, where the cupola and minarets of the tomb of the Emperor Aurungzebe’s daughter provide an eye-catcher, centre right in the middle distance: ‘Most of the remains of former splendour have now fallen into decay,’ as Grindlay comments, and a lengthy accompanying text narrates the history of successive rulers and their rise and fall.

Grindlay’s depictions of major pieces of Indian architecture – temples, tombs and bridges – convey their magnificent scale, as in his ‘View of Sassour in the Deccan … From a sketch taken on the spot by Captain Grindlay’ [Plate 4].  From the temple, he notes, ‘flights of steps lead down from all directions to the water, the true characteristic of Hindoo scenery, for the purpose of the frequent ablutions prescribed by the ritual of that religion, and so grateful and beneficial in their climate’. Such waterside steps figure often in Grindlay’s pictures, augmenting a sense of scale, perspective and distance. Foregrounds and backgrounds are adroitly contrasted, as here with the intriguing crimson feature at bottom right, duly annotated by Grindlay: ‘The covered carriage in the foreground is … used by females of rank; it is drawn by two milk-white bullocks, which will trot from five to eight miles an hour’.

The depiction of the luminous domes of the ‘Tomb of the Vizir of Sultan Mahmood … Drawn on the spot by Captain Grindlay’ [Plate 5] prompts him to reflections on different attitudes between East and West: ‘From being places of public resort … the tombs of the illustrious dead in India … lose much of that gloomy and awful grandeur which attaches itself to buildings of the same description in our more northern regions’. Instead, ‘we find them frequently occupied by the gay and busy throng from the adjacent towns and villages’.

The ‘View of the Bridge near Baroda … from a drawing by Captain Grindlay in 1806’ [Plate 6] is accompanied by text admiring ‘this useful and handsome edifice’, the huge scale of which had been designed by its original engineers to cope with a river that flooded quickly and to very dramatic levels.

A number of plates based on his sketches register the impression made on Grindlay by the extraordinary cave temples at Ellora and at Elephanta. In the ‘Great excavated temple at Ellora … Drawn on the spot by Captain Grindlay 1813’ [Plate 7], the plate is ‘offered as a faithful portrait of a portion of the most splendid of the cave-temples … undoubtedly amongst the most wonderful monuments of human industry and art’. At the time there was much bemusement over the identity of the builders and many comparisons with Egyptian monuments. When Grindlay writes that ‘Some of the sculptural decorations, and the taste in the ornaments, would do credit to the best period of the Grecian school,’ he makes a comparison that, in his culture, was the highest compliment. But his praise is soon spoiled by another cultural comparison:  ‘The design and magnitude of the work indicate a fertility of invention, and ability, energy, and perseverance in the erection, incompatible with the apathy and indolence of the present Hindoos’.

In his ‘Interior of the Cave Temple of Indra Subba at Ellora … From a drawing made on the spot’ [Plate 8], Grindlay also enthuses that ‘Of all the wonderful excavations at Ellora, this is perhaps the most remarkable for its elaborate sculpture and profusion of ornament … There is a redundance of figures in this fine cave …and leaves one at a loss whether most to admire the minuteness of parts or the beauty of the whole’. In ‘The Great Triad in the Cave Temple of Elephanta near Bombay … Drawn on the spot in 1803 by W. Westall’ [Plate 9], there is a powerful depiction of the gigantic sculpture of some three-headed being – nearly eighteen feet high – in the cave temple at Elephanta,  which was an object of fascination to visitors and was taken to represent the Hindu Trinity or ‘Trimurti’ of gods whom Grindlay calls ‘Bramha, Vishnu, and Shiva’.

Some plates also record customs, and ‘Immolation of a Hindoo Widow at Baroda, in Guzerat’ [Plate 10] represents the Hindu practice of a widow’s committing suicide in the flames of her husband’s funeral pyre, an object of fascinated horror to nineteenth-century British observers of India, as Grindlay’s comment suggests: ‘Of all the rites prescribed by the Hindoo religion, or encouraged by the corruption of its principles and institutions, that of the voluntary immolation of the widow upon the funeral pile [sic] of her husband is the most revolting to the feelings of human nature’. After a lengthy anecdotal history of the custom, Grindlay concludes with hopes for ‘the gradual abolition of the practice in the districts immediately under the jurisdiction of the East India Company’.  It is striking that the plate is – in keeping with Grindlay’s whole oeuvre – a very elegant, orderly and tidy architectural composition, within which even crowds and horrific incidents are subordinated.

Back in London after his Indian adventure, Grindlay set up an agency, located near the East India Company’s headquarters, which helped secure travel arrangements to India and back, taking care of booking voyages and shipping luggage. The business grew to include banking operations, insurance and encashment of cheques. By Grindlay’s retirement in 1852 the firm was well on the way to being bankers to the business community and the army in India. Grindlay’s Bank eventually grew to have branches and business across the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. In 2000, after many mergers and changes of name, ANZ Grindlays was acquired for $1.3 billion by Standard Chartered and, after well over one hundred and fifty years, Robert Grindlay’s name finally disappeared.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Fact or Fiction? Hyde Farm, Surrey: Emmanuel’s ‘Dry’ Estate' on 14 Oct 2020
Hyde Farm, Surrey, as shown on a map of the 1860s. Balham Station is on the extreme left. The pencilled note to the west of the farm, stating that ‘this is all houses’, was added in about 1900, probably by the college Bursar.

Fact or Fiction? An occasional series examining the truth of some Emmanuel traditions

In this series of blogs, College Archivist, Amanda Goode, examines the origins of the myths and traditions of Emma, starting with Hyde Farm, a so-called 'dry estate', with possible connections to the College's Puritanical past. 

1.  Hyde Farm, Surrey: Emmanuel’s ‘Dry’ Estate

In 1587 Emmanuel College received a bequest of £440 in the will of Joyce Frankland, a friend of the college’s Founder, Sir Walter Mildmay. The college invested the money in agricultural land in Surrey, including a property then called Hyde Field Farm, near Balham. By 1900 the farm was almost completely surrounded by housing (with the exception of its southern boundary, which adjoined Tooting Common) and shortly afterwards was itself leased by the college to builders, who developed it as a residential neighbourhood. Although the new estate contained several shops and a school, it was not furnished with a public house or an off-licence, and there appears to be a widely-held belief that the college insisted the estate be ‘dry’, because of its Puritan ethos. Given that Emmanuel had shed its last vestiges of Puritanism well before the nineteenth century, this explanation might seem somewhat improbable – but could there be any truth in the story?

To find out, we must turn to the Bursary correspondence files. In 1900, when the development of Hyde Farm was in the early stages of planning, Emmanuel was approached by a company of brewers who wished to erect a public house on the land. The brewers’ solicitor assured the college that ‘a respectable fully licensed house…would be a great boon to pleasure seekers and others using Tooting Bec common’. The proposed site for the pub was on Emmanuel Road, facing the north-eastern corner of the common. The college cautiously agreed that it was indeed ‘desirable that some provision of the kind should be made having regard to the large number of houses which will ultimately be built’; nevertheless, the Bursar, J B Peace, was mindful of the college’s responsibilities and reputation as freeholder, and was anxious to avoid the premises getting ‘a bad name through improper control’. He therefore stipulated that the brewers’ lease should contain a clause prohibiting gaming and rioting, and an agreement that the tenancy would be forfeit if a complaint of any nature were made to the police. The brewers’ solicitor, in high dudgeon, replied: ‘Anything more unreasonable we cannot conceive and of course no Builder or Brewer could dream of entering into such a covenant’. Since neither side was prepared to give ground the matter dragged on fitfully for several years, ending with a final burst of acrimony in 1905, when the brewers’ solicitor accused Emmanuel of behaving like a ‘bargaining butterman and not a historical college’. The Bursar retorted that he much regretted having been ‘misled by your personal assurance into urging the College to reopen the matter’.

No further negotiations were possible after this exchange, but all was not lost as far as local would-be tipplers were concerned, for in 1907 the college agreed that one of the shops that had been built near the junction of Emmanuel Road and Radbourne Road could be converted to an off-licence. This plan never came to fruition, though, because the tenant got cold feet when he learned that the promised temperance legislation in the next Sessions of Parliament made it likely that ‘no fresh licenses will be granted whatever’. So that was that, as far as the sale of alcohol on the Hyde Farm Estate (as it is still known) was concerned. Although the surviving correspondence makes it clear that the college had no objection to a public house per se, its insistence on strict conditions meant that the idea never got off the ground, and to that extent there is a kernel of truth in the story of Emmanuel’s ‘dry’ estate.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'Making relational care work for older people' on 7 Oct 2020
Book cover for Making Relational Care Work for Older People

Jenny Kartupelis (1979) previously wrote a blog post for Emmanuel about her upcoming book, Making Relational Care Work for Older People.  Here, she tells us more about the topics covered by her now-published book which feels extremely relevant amidst the pandemic. 

A couple of months ago, I wrote for this blog about the effect of the pandemic on older people in care environments, and the tally of mounting deaths.  After some respite, it is more than worrying that elderly citizens may be facing the same threats again this winter, even as Amnesty have just reported on their serious concerns about processes followed during the first wave. 

It bears repeating that one of the factors in this tragedy may be an unspoken – even unconscious – attitude that older people are somehow less valuable to society; this is an attitude that spills over into a similar dismissal of care workers as ‘unskilled’ or easily replaceable. As I wrote previously: ‘The stand-out finding of my research [extensive interviews with older people, carers and relatives] was that the best outcomes for all concerned are achieved by ‘relational care’ – that is, the building of trust and mutual knowledge over a period of time, creating a supportive network and ‘family’ of wellbeing.’ These bonds of understanding defy ageism by enabling perceptions of common humanity and fostering mutual affection that grows with time.

The book based on this research has now been published by Routledge. Making Relational Care Work for Older People is not only a commentary on the policy and history of elder care, but also offers a great deal of practical advice on creating environments that favour supportive relationships. For example, the physical design of a care home has a significant impact, with factors such as quiet communal rooms, the arrangement of chairs, ‘porous’ but safe access to kitchens, use of residents’ own artworks, positioning of the TV, being just some examples of ensuring a building is a ‘home’ and not a ‘hotel’.

Another section explores innovative approaches such as introducing Montessori principles into dementia care, thus restoring agency and a greater recognition of individuality; developing intergenerational models; and re-assessing ways of measuring the rather slippery concept of ‘wellbeing’. There is also a chapter devoted to the question ‘Technology: Friend or Foe?’, written by Dr Lorraine Morley, Lead for the Cambridge-based AgeTech Accelerator project. She reviews a host of technical advances, some of which have spun out of the University, and what they might offer in the future to improved relational care.

To find out more about the content and implications of the book’s arguments, visit:

https://www.routledge.com/Making-Relational-Care-Work-for-Older-People-Exploring-Innovation-and-Best/Kartupelis/p/book/9780367408541

or do join the virtual launch at 4pm on 22 October by registering at:

https://book-launch-relational-care-and-older-people.eventbrite.co.uk


Image for the news item 'The Wild Wheelchairs Project' on 7 Oct 2020
Alex abseiling down from the summit

After graduating from Emma in 1987 with a degree in Maths, David Collinson (1984) went on to qualify as an Actuary, become a partner with consulting firm Watson Wyatt and then found Pension Insurance Corporation in 2006.  In 2017, however, David took on a completely different sort of challenge, founding the Wild Wheelchairs Project, as he tells us about below.  

Three years ago I was introduced to Alex Lewis.  We had both just returned from the Artic having separately completed canoeing expeditions through the icy waters of the North.  This wasn’t a particularly remarkable achievement on my part but, given that Alex is a quadruple amputee, was a somewhat extraordinary feat for him.  Alex and I immediately got engaged in a discussion about what we could do next, and the Wild Wheelchairs Project was born. 

We devised a three-pronged project:

Climb a Mountain - Alex and I would try and climb Ethiopia’s tallest mountain, the 4,550m peak Ras Dashen, situated in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. We recruited local double amputee (and champion wheelchair basketball star) Emebet Ale Dires to join us on the expedition.

Build a factory – We would fund and manage a project to build a wheelchair manufacturing facility in Bahir Dar, providing badly needed mobility support for the disabled people of that region.

Make a film – In conjunction with good friend and award-winning commercials Director Simon Ratigan, we would make a film of the project. 

The slight hiccup was that in order to ascend the mountain Alex and Emebet would need some additional kit to help them get up the steep mountain paths, so we commissioned a group of students to design and build a unique, solar powered, battery assisted, four-wheeled, offroad handcycle. This amazing vehicle could be fully steered and driven by someone with no arms and no legs!

My time at Emma spent grappling with the complexities of the Mathematics Tripos taught me that even if you find something difficult, that is no reason not to give it a go! So armed with this philosophy, Alex and I pursued our Wild Wheelchairs Project. 

I am delighted to say that exactly a year ago we reached the summit of Ras Dashen, and in addition the building of wheelchair facility was completed and it is now busy making a whole variety of mobility aids.  Simon captured some fantastic footage on the trip and is busy working on the documentary which we hope to release in 2021.  A series of short films from the trip can be seen here: https://www.wildwheelchairs.co.uk/films

I think the overall spirit of the project was beautifully captured by Emebet, who when asked whether she was worried at the prospect of having to climb Ras Dashen, simply said “Anything is possible!” 

David Collinson (1984) founded the Wild Wheelchairs Project with Alex Lewis in 2017.  Their next planned expedition is to circumnavigate the Gobi Desert in 2021.


Image for the news item 'Accelerating disinfection ' on 5 Oct 2020
Optimal UV disinfection range

Dr Steven Berger (1984) is a former fellow of Emmanuel.  The start-ups he currently works with, in his role at Asahi Kasei, could provide much-needed technology during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, as he tells us here...

After spending 16 years in basic research, first at the Cavendish and then at Bell Labs in the US, I took the plunge and entered the world of venture-backed start-ups and small companies - 25 years later, and I’m still there!  At the last start-up, Crystal IS, we developed an ultraviolet (UV) LED operating at 265nm, designed to destroy human pathogens in water, on surfaces and in the air.  Since being acquired by a Japanese conglomerate, Asahi Kasei, the technology has continued to evolve into something with great potential.

With the advent of Covid-19, and a global need for new approaches to virus protection, I suggested we reach out beyond our normal customer-base to see what new ideas might be brewing in this space, but not necessarily on our radar-screen; thus was born our UV Accelerator.

We announced via various PR and social media that we wanted to hear from start-ups and small companies who had new ideas for surface and air disinfection products using UV LEDs.  Our goal is to provide some seed-funding and LED-specific expertise to bring the most promising product ideas to market as soon as possible.  The result has been very encouraging with applications coming in from across the spectrum of uses, and multiple countries. 

One of the really interesting questions emerging from this activity is how to judge what kind of products will be truly helpful in a post-Covid world, rather than just focusing on the immediate issues.  Maybe using UV light to rapidly “wash” our hands without singing “Happy Birthday” twice, or consuming litres of water?  Maybe having a miniaturized gadget in our pocket that allows us to quickly disinfect common-touch surfaces such as cash-machine key pads or door handles before or after we use them?  Maybe…

What’s your idea?


Image for the news item 'The ‘Cambridge fever’ of 1815: an Emmanuel tragedy' on 1 Oct 2020
James Dusautoy’s memorial stone in the chapel cloisters

When the Covid-19 epidemic forced the closure of Cambridge University in March 2020, it was the first time that such a drastic measure had been enacted since the spring of 1815, when an outbreak of a malady known locally as ‘Cambridge fever’ resulted in the suspension of normal academic life for most of the Easter Term. The disease was probably typhoid, resulting from the contamination of Cambridge’s water supply, and it claimed the lives of a number of townspeople as well as at least nine members of the University. Given that most of the student fatalities were Emmanuel men we have more reason than most to remember the events of that year, yet none of the printed annals of the college mentions the episode, and even contemporary references in the college archives are extremely hard to find. There is a solitary entry in the Order Book, for 25th April, deferring the half-yearly audit on account of the ‘malignant fever…prevalent in the University and Town, which has been fatal in some Colleges and particularly in our own’.

The first Emma casualty, a third-year fellow commoner named Francis Millward, died on 18 March, followed the next day by Charles Wade-Gery, a second-year scholar. Charles was buried in the chancel of All Saints church, Little Staughton, Bedfordshire, where his gravestone records that he died ‘in the fever that prevailed in the university’. A fortnight later there was a double calamity, for Edward Burroughes died on 1 April, to be followed two days later by his elder brother James. A memorial plaque in North Burlingham church, Norfolk, describes the brothers as having died of an ‘infectious Fever which they caught whilst pursuing their studies at Cambridge’.

The fifth victim was James Dusautoy, a second year student, who succumbed on 3 May. As it was impracticable to convey his body to his family home in Totnes, Devon, he was interred in the chapel cloister at Emmanuel. Three days after his death, the college paid £2 6s 11d for ‘Brick work to Grave by Chaple’. The epitaph on Dusautoy’s memorial tablet (as translated from the original Latin) relates that he had been attacked by an epidemic disease and died in his nineteenth year, having ‘already won honour as a young man of singular ability and holiness of life’. A sixth Emmanuel casualty may have been Edward Staunton, a first-year fellow commoner, who died in Cambridge of unknown causes before the middle of March. In other colleges, the disease claimed the lives of two undergraduates and a Fellow at Jesus, and one student at Christ’s.

Nearly all Cambridge students and many dons had fled the town by the end of March, and edicts issued by the University in April and May effectively wrote off the remainder of the Easter Term. Life returned to normal after the Long Vac, and memories of the epidemic seem to have soon faded. Even at Emmanuel its effects were fleeting, for although the number of new admissions dipped in 1816, this was only a temporary blip. James Dusautoy’s marble plaque was to be the sole enduring reminder of the tragedy that unfolded here in the spring of 1815.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'Rare Book of the Week: Final Part of the Exploration of Women Illustrators ' on 1 Oct 2020
Maria Cosway, Progress of Female Virtue (1800). Top Row, Left to right; Title Page; Plate 1; Plate 2; Plate 3; Second Row, Left to right; Plate 4; Plate 5; Plate 6; Plate 7; Bottom Row, Left to right; Plate 8. L. S. Costello, The Falls, Lakes and Mountains of North Wales (1845); Cosway bindings.

Concluding our mini-series on women artists and illustrators in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection, this week’s blog highlights a work by Maria Cosway published in 1800, described on the title-page as ‘Progress of Female Virtue: Engraved by A. Cardon: From Original Drawings by Mrs Cosway: Thus Woman makes her entrance and her exit’. The work consists of sepia aquatints on buff-coloured paper, touched up with sepia and Chinese white.  Sadly, a companion volume, A Progress of Female Dissipation, is not in Emmanuel’s collection

Maria Cosway, nee Hadfield (1760-1838) was born at Florence, where her English father was an innkeeper, putting up British tourists on the Grand Tour trail.

All her elder siblings had been murdered by a deranged nursemaid who believed she was sending them to heaven, and this shocking event hung over Maria’s life, underlying her Roman Catholicism and her eventual commitment as an educationalist.

Growing up in Florence, she was a pupil of the artist Johann Zoffany, spent much time copying artworks in the Uffizi and also in Rome, and came to know many contemporary artists who passed through Florence, such as Henry Fuseli and John Northcote, who described her as ‘active, ambitious, proud and restless’. After her father’s death in 1776, her mother took her family back to England, determined to make her daughter the successor to the successful woman artist Angelica Kauffman.

Having turned down rather better offers, Maria was eventually obliged to accept Richard Cosway (1742-1821), a very fashionable miniaturist, who was eighteen years her senior and looked rather like a monkey. Cosway was repeatedly and openly unfaithful, and the couple lived much apart. Perhaps jealous of his wife’s talents, Cosway refused to let her sell her paintings, but in the 1780s they were a glamorous couple in fashionable London society. During a visit to Paris in 1786, and again in 1787, Maria became an intimate friend and life-long correspondent of the widowed Thomas Jefferson, then American minister in Paris. Although this is inevitably now seen as ‘an affair,’ both Jefferson and Cosway were so discreet that it is impossible to say from their correspondence how far matters went.

Maria Cosway exhibited portraits and history paintings at the Royal Academy throughout the 1780s. Her most original portrait is her dramatic Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire as Cynthia (1782; at Chatsworth), but various biblical and mythological paintings received a more mixed reception from the critics, as in the 1786 caricature Maria Costive at her Studies.

Maria Cosway is thought to have commissioned the first painting of Napoleon painted in England (now in the Sir John Soane Museum). While staying in Paris 1801-1803 she became intimate with members of Napoleon’s family, and was introduced to the Emperor by her friend, the painter Jacques-Louis David. Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Fesch, invited Cosway to establish a girls’ school at Lyons, which she ran between 1803-1809. Cosway subsequently reestablished the school from 1812 at Lodi, near Milan, and pioneered the cause of education for girls in Italy. The great novelist Alessandro Manzoni sent his daughter to the school, and after a visit to the school by the Emperor and Empress of Austria in 1834 Cosway was created an Austrian baroness.  

It had been an extraordinary life’s journey for the innkeeper’s daughter. But Maria Cosway was a quite exceptionally versatile talent: an accomplished musician, she also became something of an artistic successor to Angelica Kauffman, and went on to become a pioneering educationalist for girls. Her international network of friends and correspondents was so remarkable that it does not seem so surprising that the godmother to her only child Louisa was Princess Louisa of Stolberg, widow of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Perhaps the sad story of Louisa lay behind Maria Cosway’s creation of A Progress of Female Virtue. After her daughter’s difficult birth in 1790 Maria – possibly suffering postnatal depression – left England without her daughter, travelling in Italy and not returning until 1794. Two years later Louisa died, leaving both parents distraught.

Maria’s images for the Progress dwell touchingly on the bonds between mothers and daughters, and on what is learned and taught through these bonds.

The first image shows the mother teaching the child to pray (‘How blest the duty, and how sweet the care, | To teach the infant lips th’unconscious prayer’). The second illustration seems especially meaningful in the light of Cosway’s future commitment to education in showing a small girl engrossed in a book, her doll cast aside (‘The moral tale, to sage reflections join’d, | At once amuses and instructs the mind’). The third image depicts the little girl’s charity to a blind girl as again the fruition of maternal moral education (‘To cheerless want th’allotted mite to spare, | Marks the kind precept of a mother’s care’). The fourth illustration shows the grown young woman as an artist, modestly unaware that she is lovelier than what she is painting (‘While Nature’s beauties her free lines pourtray, | She knows not that she’s fairer far than they’). The fifth illustration, of marriage, is duly followed by one of motherhood as a fulfilment of what had been received as a daughter (‘The tender care her mother gave, she gives, | The heartfelt joys she caus’d, she now receives’). The seventh illustration, of a mother with her growing family, has a caption which seems very poignant in view of the artist Cosway’s absence from her own daughter (‘In search of painted Joys let others roam, | These are the blessings of her happy home’). The final illustration sees the small girl of the opening now as a grandmother, her grandson with a picture book of Lord Nelson’s victory (lots of explosions and smoke), her granddaughter with a doll.

How strange can be the vagaries of fame: Richard Cosway’s name is now more familiar not for his beautiful miniatures of Regency figures but for the ‘Cosway bindings’ invented well after his death. Such lavish bindings incorporate miniatures into the covers, and Graham Watson’s collection includes a particularly stunning example in L. S. Costello’s The Falls, Lakes and Mountains of North Wales (1845), where five delicate watercolour miniatures of Welsh landscapes are set into both the front and back covers.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Continuing the exploration of Women Illustrators ' on 17 Sep 2020
Mrs T. Edward Bowdich, The Freshwater Fishes of Great Britain (London, 1828): Top row, left to right; 1.Stockbridge Trout; 2.Roach; 3.Perch; 4.Barbel; Middle row, left to right; 5.Rickmansworth Trout; 6.Bream; 7.Rudd; 8.Lamprey; Bottom Row, left to right; 9.Bull Trout (1828); 10.Bull Trout (1838).

This week’s blog continues the theme of great women illustrators represented in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection. Emmanuel’s rare copy of The Freshwater Fishes of Great Britain, ‘Drawn and Described by Mrs T. Edward Bowdich’ (1828), is the work of a woman illustrator of natural history remarkable not only for the quality of its painting from life but also for the prodigious industry that it involved.

That, however, was wholly characteristic of this most intrepid Victorian woman.

Sarah Bowdich or Sarah Lee, née Wallis (1791-1856), was the daughter of a grocer and linen-draper in Colchester, where she grew up loving the countryside, riding and fishing. Her parents were well-to-do, property-owning non-conformists, but her father went bankrupt in 1802 and the family moved to London. Here Sarah met and married Thomas Edward Bowdich (1791-1824), who was to become a celebrated, if short-lived, African explorer. Appointed to the Royal African Company, he sailed in 1815 for Cape Coast Castle (a slave-trade depot, now in Ghana), and Sarah followed in 1816 with their new-born daughter. During the voyage she caught a shark and helped put down a mutiny, but she arrived only to find that in the meantime her husband had returned briefly to England. While she waited for him to re-join her, Sarah studied the local culture and natural history, but her baby died of fever. Her husband then secured his reputation with an expedition inland to the Ashanti kingdom, and by the time of their return to England Sarah was the first European woman to have collected plants systematically in West Africa.

To prepare for another African expedition the Bowdichs settled in Paris in 1819 to study natural science and were kindly treated like family members by the celebrated savant, Baron Georges Cuvier. To support themselves the Bowdichs published English translations of French works, illustrated by Sarah. In 1822 the Bowdichs embarked on their second African expedition, pausing for fifteen months in Madeira to study its natural history. But soon after reaching Bathurst in Gambia, Thomas Edward Bowdich died of fever in 1824.

Penniless, and by now with three young children with her in Africa to support, Sarah Bowdich set herself to make a career of her art in natural history; she was to become a popularizer of natural history much read in her time. Back in London, she published in 1825 her husband’s last work on Madeira with additions of her own. Her descriptions of new species and genera of fish, birds and plants established her as the first woman known to have discovered whole genera of plants.

In 1826 Sarah Bowdich began the work for which she is now best known, The Freshwater Fishes of Great Britain. This included 48 plates depicting fishes, with accompanying text. The work had 50 subscribers, headed by the Duke of Sussex (sixth son of George III), and appeared in twelve fascicles of four plates each between 1828 and 1838. What is remarkable, however, is that each of the 48 illustrations in each of the 50 copies is an original watercolour by Sarah Bowdich, not a hand-coloured print, meaning that she had to produce some 2,400 watercolour illustrations for the project. It was a vast labour that drew on her command of natural history and art, not least because she worked from just-caught specimens. Her preface comments: ‘Every Drawing has been taken from the living Fish immediately it came from the water it inhabited, so that no tint has been lost or deadened, either by changing the quality of that element, or by exposure to the atmosphere’.  As she remarks: ‘The colours of the Trout are remarkably brilliant, but so fleeting, that in two minutes after they leave the water they are lost or changed …’.  Accordingly ‘I was lucky enough to avail myself of the skill of a friend, who supplied me with a succession of them as I sat on the bank, and by which I secured the tints in all their delicacy and brightness’. (Many an angler will envy both this friend’s skill and his consistency).  The consequent fidelity and lifelike quality of Bowdich’s illustrations were unique for her times and much prized. The book is now rare, and the particular ‘state’ represented by Graham Watson’s copy is rarer still. As well as his complete copy, Graham Watson also cleverly collected a stray copy of one fascicle dated 1838, ten years after the project’s start. This enables us to compare two of Bowdich’s depictions of a bull trout, and the comparison perhaps suggests the toll taken by completing thousands of watercolours for this project.

Sarah Bowdich or Sarah Lee (she married an assize clerk, Robert Lee, in 1826) published during her career 21 books and 22 short stories. Her Taxidermy (1820), Elements of Natural History (1844) and Anecdotes of the Habits and Instinct of Animals (1852) were on the Privy Council list of class books for national education, and in 1854 her achievements as a popularizer of natural history were recognized by the award of a Civil List pension of £50.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Chinese Connections: Sir Gordon Sutherland and science in China' on 15 Sep 2020
Sir Gordon Sutherland by E. Leigh

Francis Newman is a recent Emmanuel graduate who has just completed an MPhil in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. His research, for which he won the McConnell Prize from his Department, focusses on cross-cultural interactions between scientists and scientific traditions, especially between Britain, China, and India. Here he tells us about the work of  former Emmanuel master Sir Gordon Sutherland.

On 4th October 1962, Sir Gordon Sutherland – a distinguished British physicist who was shortly to become Master of Emmanuel College – delivered a lecture to a 300-strong crowd at the Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. In his report to the Royal Society, which had arranged the visit, he recalled that “the room was packed to capacity and people were standing out into the corridors.” He was impressed with “numerous and intelligent” questions, and praised his audience as “the best to which I have ever lectured.”

Sutherland – at the time director of the UK’s National Physics Laboratory – was in Beijing as a member of the first British scientific delegation that the Royal Society sent to the People’s Republic of China after its formation in 1949. Coming amidst deep-running Cold War tensions, and while the PRC was emerging from the famine and economic disaster of the Great Leap Forward, he and his fellow delegates were impressed and surprised by what they saw of Chinese science. Sutherland reported that the Chinese had selected particular fields of research to concentrate on “with great care so that their limited effort can be used to the best advantage…. In these chosen areas it seemed to me that they had virtually caught up with the West but had not yet made any significant new advances. I shall be surprised if they do not begin to make important original contributions within the next 5 years.”

With these positive impressions, Sutherland and the Royal Society began an exchange programme whereby young Chinese researchers – at approximately postdoc level – would be placed in British research institutes for periods of a year or two. Between 1964 and 1966, thirty-three such scientists and engineers came to Britain. Several of them were invited to the National Physics Laboratory by Sutherland; many others came to Cambridge. There were high hopes for such international scientific cooperation, and how it might help diplomatic relations between the two sides of the so-called ‘Bamboo Curtain’. Now at Emmanuel, Sutherland signed up to be Treasurer of the new Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU), which had just been established by two other Cambridge academics, Joseph Needham and Joan Robinson.

Ultimately, however, political suspicions ran deep. The British government believed that some of the researchers were spying; the Chinese authorities were outraged when the Royal Society asked several of them to return home, citing “academic and temperamental incompatibilities” rather than the real security reasons. Then the Cultural Revolution took hold in China, and the remaining researchers abruptly departed home, leaving British scientists both disappointed and, in some cases, angry. Sutherland resigned from SACU, suspicious of what he saw as left-wing involvement in the organisation. There would be no further scientific relations between the two countries for several years.

But this window of relative calm in the turbulent relations between Britain and China is important to study. The story of Sutherland’s visit is not merely one of scientists acting as unofficial diplomats. It hints towards how ideologies of science – and especially value judgements of what counts as ‘good’ or valid science – can shape international co-operation. Today, as elements in the West blame China for the spread of COVID-19, and suspicion over the Chinese government’s involvement in organisations like Huawei runs rife, it’s important to remember the formative years of Western scientific relations with the PRC, and to try to understand how and why such suspicions came about – and how they came to play a more public role. Sutherland’s interest in China is a pivotal part of that story.


Image for the news item 'A creative writing prompt... from Dr Rosy Thornton' on 3 Sep 2020

An old friend, who had not been in touch for years, emails you out of the blue and suggests a chat on Zoom. That’ll be nice, you think – and it’s maybe not so surprising, since this lockdown has resulted in a lot of renewed contacts. But as the conversation develops it becomes clear that there is something this person wants from you, something they need you to do – but they don’t want you to find out why.

Provide the Zoom transcript of your conversation.


Image for the news item ''Blessed to be a blessing'' on 3 Sep 2020
Karen with her dog Milu

We continue to celebrate the women who have come to Emma over the last 40 years with a piece from Dr Karen Attar (1988), Curator of Rare Books and University Art at the University of London.  Karen speaks about how her time at Emma contributed not only to her career but also to her life more broadly, and about the responsibility of Emma members to use their education in the wider world. 

After doing a doctorate on Old Norse chivalric romances at Emma, I became, by circuitous means, an academic librarian. As the Curator of Rare Books and University Art at the central library for the University of London, I love the privilege of regularly handling old books, examining their make-up, learning from annotations about their former owners, and on the side becoming the Librarian’s unofficial historian. In 2016 I edited a reference work, the third edition of the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

Emma was very good to me, among other things allowing me to stay in the same room in Park Lodge for all three of my years. The College invests in us and has faith in us. I continue to write academically (albeit on library history, not Old Norse), and although I’d be motivated to do so whatever my background, I think that a sense of the extreme excellence and exclusiveness of my education fuels the desire, as the most appropriate way of saying “thank you”.

The degree has made it easy to build bridges quickly with pure academics with whom I liaise, providing as it does an instant point of sympathy. I particularly enjoy contacts with Emmanuel people: for example, as reviews editor of the journal Library & Information History, having relevant Emmanueleans both as authors and reviewers. Some of my dealings are with former Emmanueleans, such as Richard Farmer (Master) as a Shakespearean scholar, and Thomas Hawes (M.A. 1687), who became a vicar and who owned a number of books in a parish library under my care. Continued access to the University Library is invaluable.

Yet the main way Emma has enriched my life has not in fact been academic. As part of my job, I give conference papers and I provide displays to support conferences for the School of Advanced Study. After I had sent in a proposal for a paper on “The Evidence of Reading”, the organiser emailed, commenting: “I think I recognise your name … are you an Emmanuelean?” She clearly was, we met up, and have been firm friends ever since.

I’d love to work in Cambridge, but simultaneously see a Cambridge education as rendering us “blessed to be a blessing”, to go out further. The most direct way of thanking the College may well be via a Library treasures volume.


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: An exploration of Women Illustrators ' on 1 Sep 2020

Plates from Mrs E. Bury, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants (London, 1834). Top row, left to right: Plate 1: Amaryllis Johnsoni (‘the first hybrid amaryllis on record’); Plate 2: Crinum augustum  (‘in flower in the Liverpool Botanic Garden on 15 May 1829’); Plate 3: Crinum pedunculatum (‘a plant of magnificent growth … 5 feet high … Flowers freely in the Liverpool Botanic Garden every summer … Native of New Holland [i.e. Australia]’; Plate 4: Amaryllis platypetalia (‘sent from Rio … and flowered as here represented on 28 November 1828’); Plate 5: Amaryllis crocata (‘Drawn at the Liverpool Botanic Garden on 5 February 1826, from a bulb received in 1810 from Sao Paulo in Brazil’).

Bottom row, left to right; Plate 6: Amaryllis aulica (‘Another of the recent importations from Brazil’); Plate 7: Amaryllis psitticina (also from Sao Paulo; flowered at the Liverpool Botanic Garden ‘in great perfection’ in 1813); Plate 8: Amaryllis fulgida (also from Brazil); Plate 9: Crinum pedunculato-zeylanicum (‘It is here represented as it flowered [in the hothouse of a local enthusiast] in August 1828’); Plate 10: Pancraticum speciosum (‘The balsamic fragrance which it emits gratifies the sense of smelling, but the scent is too powerful to be inhaled long without causing headache … Drawn from a plant in the stove [hothouse] of the Liverpool Botanic Garden, where it flowers very luxuriantly several times each year’).

This week’s blog is the first of several devoted to great women illustrators. The splendid copy of A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, by Mrs Edward Bury (1834) in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection is the work of a remarkable woman botanical artist and one of the greatest flower books of the nineteenth century.

Priscilla Bury, née Falkner (1799-1872), was the daughter of a wealthy Liverpool trader and his wife, herself the daughter of another wealthy Liverpool merchant and shipowner. Priscilla grew up sketching the plants raised in the hothouse of her family home at Fairfield, near Liverpool. In the 1820s she was drawing the flowers of the lily family that were blooming in the Liverpool Botanical Garden. The notes to her book record what must have been the exciting sense of occasion when some of these plants from Brazil and Australia first opened their exotic blooms in Liverpool. For Hexandrian Plants, fifty-one plates appeared in ten fascicles between 1831 and 1834, produced for some eighty subscribers (mostly from Liverpool and nearby), and dedicated to the young Princess Victoria. Not a large number of subscribers, but it still meant (80 x 51) the production of 4080 plates. These are fine-grained aquatints, partly printed in colour and then retouched by hand. It seems likely that each plate would be pulled and coloured by the celebrated contemporary engraver, Robert Havell, or under his supervision. The collaboration between Priscilla Bury and Robert Havell was evidently a cordial one, for they share equal prominence on the title-page (‘From Drawings by Mrs Edward Bury, Liverpool, Engraved by R. Havell’), although it is Havell who signs the dedication. In her Preface Mrs Bury politely recognizes how ‘the labours of the pencil have been skilfully seconded by the Engraver’, although one can wonder about that ‘seconded’. Of her illustrations she writes ‘an endeavour to preserve some memorial of the brilliant and fugitive beauties of a particularly splendid and elegant tribe of plants first gave rise to the work’, and she has certainly succeeded in creating an astonishing memorial. The accompanying text, if it is by her, seems less confident and more defensive: she pleads ignorance, noting that ‘any attempt at lengthened technical descriptions is purposely avoided … she has merely aimed at writing common sense in plain English … truth does not require hard words’.  

In 1830 Priscilla Falkner married a railway engineer, Edward Bury (1794-1858). His life’s work very much lay behind the pioneering railways whose literature featured in our last blog. Bury supplied many of the first engines used on the Liverpool and Manchester and London and Birmingham Railways, and was responsible for the locomotive department of the London and Birmingham Railway from its opening in 1838. His important paper on locomotive engines (1840) was of significance in the history of locomotive traction, and for his innovations he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1844. Priscilla Falkner’s marriage to a wealthy man meant that she could afford the best in the engraving of her work, and she continued to publish botanical illustrations. Her original sketches for Hexandrian Plants are now at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: the earliest railways' on 20 Aug 2020
Top to bottom, left to right: Six Coloured Views on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (London, 1831): [Plate 1]: ‘Excavation of Olive Mount, 4 miles from Liverpool’; Five Views of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (Dublin, 1834): [Plate 2]: ‘The Tunnel from the Excavation, looking towards Dublin’; Six Coloured Views on the London and Birmingham Railway (London, 1837): [Plate 3]: ‘The Station at Euston Square’, and [Plate 4] ‘Viaduct at Watford’; Drawings of the London and Birmingham Railway (London, 1839): [Plate 5] ‘Building Retaining Wall near Park Street, Camden Town. September 17, 1836’; [Plate 6] ‘Building the Stationary Engine House, Camden Town. April 26, 1837’; [Plate 7] ‘Tring Cutting. June 17, 1837’; [Plate 8] ‘Working Shaft, Kilsby Tunnel’; [Plate 9] ‘Great Ventilation Shaft, Kilsby Tunnel. July 8, 1837’; [Plate 10] ‘Entrance Portico, Euston Grove Station’.

‘Amongst all the changes of the civilised and commercial world, there has never been one so eventful and prodigious as that effected by the agency of the Steam Engine. This superhuman power has superseded many long-established practices and confirmed customs … Like other great novelties and innovations, it has had to encounter much prejudice and enmity, much opposition and vexatious hostility’.

So declares Drawings of the London and Birmingham Railway (1839), one of a number of colour-plate books in Emmanuel’s Graham Watson Collection that record the earliest railways. Most of these books are now exceedingly rare. Their plates – which are usually insisted to derive from drawings made on the spot – depict the pioneering days of railway construction and travel, and the accompanying texts brim with excitement and pride in these ultra-modern developments. 

Six Coloured Views on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (1831), ‘From Drawings Made on the Spot by Mr T. T. Bury,’ include a dramatic plate (Plate 1  above) depicting what the text describes as ‘a ravine cut though the solid rock to a depth of 70 feet … This cutting is nearly two miles in length and one of the most remarkable portions of the undertaking’. The text explains that the material excavated was then used to construct an embankment, and the writer revels in the traveller’s excitingly contrasting experience: being at one moment in the cutting ‘walled in with solid rock rising almost perpendicularly on either side’ and at the next being sped along an embankment ‘above the tops of the trees’. The main impetus for building the railway was moving goods and raw materials, rather than scenery-minded passengers, between the two booming towns, but by 1831 a train drawing five carriages of passengers went from Manchester to Liverpool in 67 minutes, halving the time taken only the previous year, thanks to an improved locomotive. The writer comments with satisfaction that shares in the company are ‘already selling, as we are assured, at a premium of nearly one hundred per cent’.

Five Views of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (1834), by A. Nicholl, ‘From Drawings Taken on the Spot … with a Description of this Important National Work’, contains beautiful coloured aquatints of what was the first railway in Ireland, which covered a distance of six miles. The first train of eight carriages ‘crowded with ladies and gentlemen, proceeded the entire length of the line’ on 9 October 1834 in fifteen and a half minutes. There was one first-class carriage, three second-class and four third-class. It continued as a separate company until 1925.  Emmanuel’s copy is a very rare and beautiful example of early railway literature, and depicts (Plate 2 above) a locomotive passing through a deep and rocky excavation.

Six years after his book of views on the Liverpool and Manchester, Bury published Six Coloured Views on the London and Birmingham Railway (1837), ‘From Drawings Made on the Line with the Sanction of the Company,’ now one of the rarest of English colour-plate books. It includes (Plate 3 above) a remarkable depiction of the platforms and interior of the station at Euston, with its vast canopy on numerous columns, an iron cathedral for steam. Numerous top-hatted gentlemen and ladies in their best bonnets are seated in what appear to be boxes on wheels, open to the elements and presumably to the smuts from the locomotive. Another ‘View’ (Plate 4) – of the viaduct at Watford – brings home what must have seemed the extraordinary scale and modernity of the new railways as civil engineering projects slicing through the landscape. An embankment dwarfs the adjacent houses, and the brickwork and stone of the viaduct are gleamingly clean and new. In the foreground a top-hatted gentleman pays court to a bonneted lady, in a designedly picturesque depiction of this new dimension to a rural landscape.

Drawings of the London and Birmingham Railway (1839), by John C. Bourne, is a magnificent example of lithographed illustration. Versions with sepia or black-and-white illustrations are rare enough, but Graham Watson’s copy with hand-coloured plates is rarer still. The plates are accompanied with a text by John Britton that breathlessly chronicles the facts and figures of all the feats of engineering – cuttings, embankments, viaducts, tunnels – that enabled the line to be built. Plate 5 above illustrates the scale of the earthworks needed to bring the line into London.

Plate 6 shows construction of a vast underground vault beside the railway tracks in the Camden Town goods yard. The Camden depot was originally to have been the London terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway, and when in 1839 Parliament allowed the line to be extended to a new terminus at Euston it was discovered that the gradient between Euston and Camden was too steep for the current locomotives. Nothing daunted, Robert Stephenson constructed a system whereby trains were hauled up from Euston to Camden by huge steam-powered winches on a mile-long ‘endless rope’, 7 inches in circumference and weighing almost 12 tons.

The two 60-horsepower engines were housed in an underground cavern constructed at Camden, which was 100 feet long and 63 feet wide, and on the surface was marked by two 130-feet chimneys. Signals were conveyed between Euston and Camden by a ‘Pneumatic Telegraph’ (‘it consists of a tube underground, through which the air is forced, so as to produce a shrill whistle … The time occupied in the passage of the signal is less than four seconds’). Once at Camden, the carriages were attached to a steam engine and continued to Birmingham. Yet only a few years later, by as soon as 1844, Stephenson had developed locomotives that could manage the incline and the whole vast scheme was obsolete. The engines were sold off to a mine in Russia and the cathedral-like vaults were abandoned. They were rediscovered, flooded, in 1993.

Plate 7, showing construction of the cutting near Tring, witnesses to the immense labour that went into such a deep excavation by manual labour. On one side of the cutting, as far as the eye can see, men are guiding wheelbarrows of earth, which are being drawn up the side of the cutting by a system of ropes and pulleys powered by horses on the top of the bank. The text confirms that between 30 and 40 such ‘horse-runs’ were constantly working for many months, and comments: ‘This is a dangerous occupation, for the man rather hangs to, than supports the barrow, which is rendered unmanageable by the least irregularity in the horse’s motion’. However, ‘such was their surefootedness that only one fatal accident occurred’. Attempts to introduce safer methods were actively resisted by workers: ‘A moving platform was invented by the engineer to supersede the necessity of thus risking life and limb, but the workmen, who considered it was designed to lessen their labour and wages, broke it’.

Plates 8 and 9 show both a working shaft and a ventilation shaft in the tunnel at Kilsby near Rugby. This tunnel was a vast undertaking, using thirty million bricks and, because of its length, requiring two immense ventilation shafts, both 60 feet in diameter, with the deeper shaft 130 feet deep and requiring one million bricks. The plate of one of the eighteen working shafts shows a ‘skip’ or box being hauled up laden with earth in the very humid atmosphere. There was a constant need to pump water up out of the tunnel.  1300 men toiled on the tunnel and twelve steam engines worked night and day.

Passengers began their journey from London to Birmingham by passing through what the railway builders designed to be the most impressive entrance to anywhere in London (Plate 10). This was the remarkable structure now remembered as the ‘Euston Arch’, but Britton calls it more grandly the ‘Propylaeum or architectural gateway’ and enthuses about how it is ‘remarkable for magnitude … the massiveness and boldness of its design [being] on a grander scale than anything of the kind yet attempted in this country’ and so disproving any idea that ‘the English are too parsimonious and calculating’ to produce grandeur in public buildings. The plate shows the huge arch dwarfing the figures and coaches of the approaching passengers, for the columns of the arch were claimed to be higher than those of any other building in London at the time. Even in the Victorian age, the Arch had its critics for being too large, too grandiose. Yet its demolition in the early 1960s has become an iconic instance of the barbarous cultural vandalism of that most tawdry of decades. Once itself an emblem of modernity’s ambitions, the Euston Arch was destroyed to enable ‘modernization’ of Euston into what we see today.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)

 

 


Image for the news item 'The Swimming Bath Goes Green' on 19 Aug 2020
Top Row: Swimming bath with ducks, August 2020, Bottom Row: Letterhead of Gilliam & Co, Ltd.

At the beginning of Lockdown swimming pools across the country were closed, Emmanuel’s being no exception. The bath here reverted to a state of nature, its pellucid turquoise waters gradually turning a soupy green, and it was not long before an opportunistic quartet of ducks took up residence. Older members of the college will doubtless recall, fondly or otherwise, that when they were up at Emma the pool always looked like this. The first college swimming bath was created in 1745 by converting the ornamental pond in the north-east corner of the Fellows’ Garden. Completely re-bricked in 1855, the Victorian bath (known to many generations of Emma students as ‘the Tank’) was fed, like its predecessor, from the branch channel leading off Hobson’s Conduit that had been laid across the college grounds in the 1630s. This ran from Chapman’s Garden to the Paddock pond, and thence into the bath, without much in the way of intervening filtration, and although this state of affairs was deemed acceptable for more than two centuries, in 1959 the college authorities decided that the pool was so dirty they would have to close it ‘lest epidemic should result or…install some kind of filtration plant’. It was agreed that the bath should be kept in use, but henceforth be supplied with mains water and purification equipment.

An alumnus of Emmanuel happened to run a business that manufactured filtration apparatus, so the college placed an order with him, only to cancel it when it received a much lower quotation from Gilliam & Co, Ltd. This was not only embarrassing but also, as it turned out, perhaps a false economy, for the equipment supplied by Gilliam was initially unsatisfactory and caused many a headache for the Domestic Bursar, Ken Roscoe. There was difficulty getting the plant to work; the water was soon ‘full of algae’ and large amounts of chemicals were necessary to clear it; the filter clogged up (not helped by two storms that washed soil into the bath from nearby flowerbeds), and the underwater vacuum cleaner was inadequate for its purpose. The shed housing the filtration machinery, erected by a local sub-contractor, was such a jerry-built eyesore that the college demolished it and refused to pay the bill, and to cap it all, the Cambridge Water Company complained about the amount of leakage and demanded that a different valve be fitted to the mains supply to avert the risk of ‘water hammer’.

Eventually, of course, all the problems were resolved and the pool was ready for use by the Easter Term of 1961. The college Magazine for that year informed its readers that the swimming bath had been ‘transformed’ by the installation of circulating and filtration apparatus, and that ‘it now presents on sunny days a cool seductive blueness’. Hopefully it will do so again next summer.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


explore Out of Time

Image for the news item 'Out of Time' on 13 Aug 2020
Anna Wilson; Anna's new book, A Place for Everything; Anna's parents at the 1963 Cambridge Union Ball

A Place for Everything, written by Anna Wilson (1988), is a searing account of a mother's late diagnosis of Aspergers, and its effects on a whole family.  Speaking about the book on BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour, Jane Garvey said, 'You don't have to have a connection to autism to find much that you can relate to in this book'.  Anna's family story raises questions about the need for greater support of women with autism, and what it means to care for our parents in their final years.  Below, Anna has kindly given us an insight into this story, which began at Emmanuel in the 1960s...

I went up to Emma in 1988, twenty-six years after my parents had met there. Neither of them was at the college – Dad went to Trinity, and Mum to Newnham. They were both Classicists, so it was appropriate that they should fall in love while performing The Frogs by Aristophanes in Emma’s Old Library.

Dad instilled in me a life-long love of language and storytelling. At bedtime he would weave tales from Greek myths, the Iliad and Odyssey. Years later it would come to feel as though Dad’s beloved myths had become a reality as we set off on our own odyssey into the nightmarish lands of sickness, ageing and death. My memoir about Mum’s diagnosis of autism at the age of 72, A Place for Everything, is the tale of what happened en route.

Looking back, the signs of Mum being on the spectrum were hiding in plain sight. Her obsession over time-keeping should alone have been a red flag. Like Alice’s White Rabbit, Mum would pace, checking her watch and the carriage clock and the grandfather clock, muttering, ‘We’re going to be late!’.

Time was Mum’s enemy – it’s uncontrollable and slippery, whether or not we are neurotypical, and our desire to control it is bound up in our fear of it running out. It’s perhaps no wonder that time caused Mum so much anxiety.

The day Dad died time was of the essence. Mum was under section on a mental health ward, locked in, unable to get anywhere, on time or not. I was in Thailand in a different time zone. My sister called from the UK to say that Dad had only thirty-six hours left to live. I would need every last second of that time to make it back to see Dad before he kept his appointment with death. Thirty-six hours is not long. A day and a night and a day. Time that is easily wasted. In the end it did take exactly thirty-six hours for me to get to his bedside. Thirty-six hours of excruciating minutes that crawled across the face of every clock I checked. Minutes in which I couldn’t move fast enough, as though under a curse. I should have been used to this feeling. Caring for Mum had sent me spinning down the rabbit hole into a mad, mad world long before Dad’s cancer had crashed in, ripping me apart.

I wasn’t too late in the end. I walked into the darkened room where Dad lay, and exactly one hour later he drew his last breath. It’s been five whole years without him. Two and a half without Mum. Yet it’s not five years. It’s a nanosecond. And if I can hold them still in my mind’s eye – that beautiful couple who met at Emma in 1962 – they will always be here, Mum and Dad. Together. Time without end.

Anna Wilson (1988)
A Place for Everything 
is available from independent bookshops such as Mr B's and The Edge of the World via Hive, and also from HeffersWaterstones and Amazon.


Image for the news item 'Making Relational Care Work for Older People ' on 6 Aug 2020

Jenny Kartupelis (1979) is an author who has recently written about relational care. Here she tells us about outcomes of her research into care for older people and how Covid-19 has brought this discussion into wider focus. 

Like a kaleidoscope, the pandemic has taken all the fragments of our lives and thrown them into new patterns.  One of the issues that has risen to the top and caught the light of publicity at last is the whole question of how we treat and value older people in this country. Discharged from hospital without testing to free up beds for Covid-19 patients, some may have brought the infection into care homes; while locum carers may also have unwittingly carried it.  Whatever the process, the result has been tens of thousands of elderly deaths in care environments. 

As a result of a survey that I was commissioned to do by Abbeyfield, a charity which owns numerous care homes in the UK and abroad, I have been writing on relationships between elderly people, carers and society for some years now. The stand-out finding of my research was that the best outcomes for all concerned are achieved by ‘relational care’ – that is, the building of trust and mutual knowledge over a period of time, creating a supportive network and ‘family’ of wellbeing.

My next book, Making Relational Care Work for Older People will be published in the Autumn, and offers practical advice on how to create environments that favour good care. For instance, quite a few of us have rediscovered during lockdown, the pleasures of cooking and sharing food, but may not until now have thought much about the great variety of impacts that good nutrition can have on our lives. Getting everything right about serving meals in care settings can have a massive impact not only on physical health, but also on mental and emotional wellbeing. This is just one example: the rather obvious and more subtle factors that influence relationships will be the subject of another blog.  Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about the content of the book, follow the link below.

https://www.routledge.com/Making-Relational-Care-Work-for-Older-People-Exploring-Innovation-and-Best/Kartupelis/p/book/9780367408541


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Robert Thornton's Temple of Flora ' on 6 Aug 2020
Top Row, left to right: Robert John Thornton, The Temple of Flora : (1) Carnations; (2) Auriculas; (3) Tulips; (4) Strelitzia reginae; Bottom row, left to right: (5) The Nodding Renealmia (Renealmia nutans), ‘this lovely tree rises by the banks of rivers to the height of near twenty feet …’ ; (6) The Night-Flowering Cereus (Cactus grandiflorens); (7) The Sacred Egyptian Bean, ‘Nature as if designing these plants to be the masterpiece of her creative power … has also added utility, for the seed vessels contain nourishing food … as also the roots. As the Egyptians worshipped whatever was useful, they accounted these plants sacred …’

The Graham Watson Collection in Emmanuel Library includes a copy of Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1799-1807), the most stunningly sumptuous achievement of botanical illustration, which, however, proved personally ruinous for Thornton.

Thornton (1768-1837) studied at Cambridge and was inspired by the teaching of John Martyn, Professor of Botany, and by the work of the Swedish scientist Carl von Linnaeus (1707-78), who had formalized the system of binomial nomenclature for living things (the first part being the name of the genus, and the second the name of the species within the genus – thus, ‘homo sapiens’). The deaths of his parents and elder brother left Thornton with a considerable fortune, which he devoted to publishing his New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carl von Linnaeus. The first two parts were expositions of the sex of plants, but the third, The Temple of Flora, was to have a lavish series of plates depicting flowers. Each plate is accompanied by descriptions in suitably flowery prose, selections of flower-poetry, accounts of flower lore and symbolism, and other information.

In each plate the flower is depicted against a background of scenery designed to represent its habitat, whether that be Egypt with distant pyramids, the Cape of Good Hope, or a Dutch landscape with windmills behind an image of tulips. As Thornton put it, ‘each scenery is appropriated to its subject’. So of the auricula he remarks: ‘Being a native of the Alps, hence, in our Picture, it is seated near a chain of tremendous mountains’. Or of Cactus grandiflorens, ‘Thus, in the night-blowing Cereus you have the moon playing on the dimpled water, and the turret clock points XII, the hour at night when this flower is in its full expanse’. And so a very English-looking church tower with clockface, and with some fashionably Picturesque decay, is depicted behind this most exotic and exuberant Jamaican plant. Inevitably, Thornton’s book is now valued not for what he hoped was its scientific worth but as testimony to a Romantic vision of nature, landscape and flowers.

Although Thornton originally envisaged over 70 illustrations, 31 were produced, engraved in aquatint, stipple and line engraving by Thomas Medland. The impressions were printed in colour but finished by hand, and because most of the plates were altered and added to during production, each plate can be a different ‘state’ of that particular image, and each copy of the book is distinct. Graham Watson purchased his copy at the sale of the library of the Society of Herbalists, and his notes record several Sotheby’s experts assuring him that the copy now in Emmanuel was the finest they had ever seen. The plates were issued to subscribers in parts over the years 1799-1807 and published in book form in 1807. It is an ‘elephant folio’ of enormous size (55 x 44 cms). But subscriptions were always disappointing. After long years of war with revolutionary France, high taxation to finance that war, and generally hard times, it was scarcely the moment for marketing such a luxurious book. To raise funds to rescue the scheme – which he saw as a national undertaking and dedicated to Queen Charlotte, herself a botany enthusiast – Thornton was allowed by Parliament in 1811 to hold a public lottery, with the original paintings for the plates as first prize, and various plates as other prizes. But the lottery failed to sell sufficient tickets, and at the time of his death Thornton was destitute.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


explore Swannet

Image for the news item 'Swannet' on 23 Jul 2020
The swans who inspired Swannet

Emma member, Greg Spiro (1966)'s poem - Swannet - was recently shortlisted for the Fish Publishing Lockdown Poetry Prize, which asked for poetic personal responses to the lockdown in no more than 19 lines.  Here, he kindly shares his successful poem with us, as well as explaining the inspiration behind it.  

It was a sad March day when London Wildlife Trust announced the temporary closure of Woodberry Wetlands. The path was deemed too narrow for social distancing and its popular Coal Cafe also had to close its doors. In 2016 Sir David Attenborough had opened the old reservoir, closed for 200 years, as a Wetlands Centre between Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington. Hackney Council and Berkeley Homes are pursuing London’s largest regeneration project building flats alongside an urban wildlife corridor. Yes, this is gentrification on a massive scale yet we have a diverse community and an enviable experience of a natural world instead of more traffic and shops. Look at a map and you’ll see our watery doorsteps -  two vast reservoirs, a sailing lake to the West and a haven for waterfowl in a reedy environment to the east.

We had recently relocated to a ground floor flat overlooking the Wetlands Reserve.  Our disappointment at closure was mitigated by the path that borders the narrow River New just metres away from the reservoir. We could walk our dog and join the community of swan, coot, moorhen, duck and geese watchers for whom the breeding season this year has aroused intense interest perhaps as consolation for having our own wings clipped for lockdown. Wildlife has largely thrived and the daily activity of water birds creating and feeding their young has been informative and emotional. These creatures are extraordinarily diligent in attending to their families. It has helped us to suspend our own anxieties, providing a living experience of  functioning nature in an open air classroom for parents, grandparents and their curious children. Of course there have been moments when seven cygnets become six and only nine of twelve ducklings can be counted ‘today’, a salutary reminder that nature favours safety in numbers and comes with harsh realities.  Happily the Wetlands reopened on 15 July following a community fundraiser. All this has been the inspiration for my poem Swannet:

Throned on last years nest, eggs descended,

Her neck charmed by the reeds to coil

Among them while her cob forages a few feet away,

Refurbishment the task from which they do not stray.

We onlookers on the pilgrim-punctuated path 

Cast peas, potato peels and too much bread.

Clicking like well-intentioned paparazzi

Marshalled by an eight year old, “Two metres please.”

Her sibling pleads indignantly, “Why can’t I play football on the grass!”

Brushed by sweating runners as if speed defies effect

We shuffle nervously to adjust our line.

Suddenly, she’s fending off a rat attack, wings raised,

A gasp till eggs all counted and regained,

Their living has become our life-sustaining aim.

Short-listed for Fish Publishing Lockdown Prize

www.fishpublishing.com

 ©Greg SpiroLondonJune 2020 gregm31@me.com


Image for the news item 'A Tree from the Dawn of Time ' on 23 Jul 2020
Top row: Dawn Redwood tree in Chapman's Garden. Bottom row, left to right: Dawn Redwood close-up; Emma Fellows - In this photo, taken in Front Court in 1941, Professor Frederick Brooks is on the extreme right, James Line on the extreme left

In the grounds of Emmanuel College there can be found a most remarkable tree. Next to the pond in Chapman’s Garden is a tall, alien-looking conifer with a deeply fissured trunk, its branches bearing soft green needles that turn a beautiful shade of reddish-brown in autumn. Planted in the late 1940s, it is a majestic representative of the species Metasequoia glyptostroboides, whose common name, the Dawn Redwood, reflects its ancient origins. Once a familiar sight throughout the northern hemisphere, Metasequoias were thought to have become extinct about five million years ago. Then, in 1941, a few living examples were discovered in a remote part of China. Nothing more could be done until after the Second World War, but in the autumn of 1947 a large quantity of seeds was collected from the trees. Most were sent to the USA, but a small cache came into the hands of Dr Ronald Silow, a botanist who had worked in Cambridge before going out to China in 1947. He forwarded the seeds to Frederick Brooks, a graduate and Fellow of Emmanuel College, and Professor of Botany at Cambridge University.

Professor Brooks took the seeds to the Cambridge Botanic Garden early in March 1948. They ‘germinated freely’ and in January 1949 the Botanic Garden planted out three seedlings in their grounds, one of which survives. This tree is said to have been the first specimen of Metasequoia glyptostroboides planted on British soil, and as such it features in several books on famous trees. It could be argued, though, that Emmanuel’s Dawn Redwood trees (for we have two) are almost equally venerable, for they too were grown from Professor Brooks’ batch of seeds, as was the Metasequoia in the Fellows’ garden at Clare College.

Emma’s trees were probably planted out in March 1949; not by Professor Brooks himself, but by his colleague James Line, who was also an Emmanuel Fellow and a botanist. The college Magazine issued in the summer of 1950 informed members that ‘two specimens of the newly discovered Chinese conifer Metasequoia glyptostroboides which were obtained by Professor Brooks are now rapidly shooting up by the pond in Chapman’s Garden’. In the autumn of 1953 the smaller of the two trees was moved to a new site in the Paddock, near the Squash Court.

In its natural habitat the Dawn Redwood is a critically endangered species, so we are privileged to be able to view two fine specimens in the college gardens. Professor Brooks did not live to see his trees grow to maturity, for he died in 1952, but his arboreal legacy will surely enthrall many future generations of Emmanuelians.

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Emmanuel and the Cambridge Platonists' on 23 Jul 2020
Top row: left to right, Benjamin Whichcote, Twelve Sermons (1721); Ralph Cudworth, The Union of Christ and the Church in a Shadow (1642); John Worthington, The Duty of Self-Resignation to the Divine Will (1675); Nathaniel Culverwell, An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature (1652). Bottom Row: Left, Benjamin Whichcote, portrait by Mary Beale, signed and dated 1682 (in the College’s collection); Right, Ralph Cudworth, portrait copied by Joseph Freeman, 1781 (in the College’s collection)

The group of seventeenth-century thinkers now called ‘The Cambridge Platonists’ might equally well have been called ‘The Emmanuel Platonists’ since all but one of its principal figures were students and Fellows at Emmanuel. In their lifetimes they did not think of themselves as a group or movement, did not call themselves Platonists, and much of their work was only published posthumously. But by the eighteenth century they had been christened the ‘Cambridge Platonists’, and their contribution to moral philosophy is a major source for modern ethical theory and ideas of tolerance. They were the first philosophers to write primarily and consistently in the English language, and they coined such terms as ‘materialism’ and ‘consciousness’. Their views were developed in reaction to the stern Calvinistic scholasticism prevailing at Cambridge in their formative years. They held Plato and Plotinus in great regard, and their respect for ancient philosophy convinced them of the eternal existence of moral principles and truth. They were very up-to-date with developments in philosophy, reading Descartes and Spinoza, but rejecting the new mechanistic natural philosophy and repudiating Hobbes. They were convinced of the compatibility of reason and faith, and did not accept that ritual, church government, or detailed dogma were essentials of Christianity. They did not live apart from their times. Two of the Emmanuel Platonists, Whichcote and Cudworth, were on the committee of sixteen divines with whose advice Cromwell decided on the readmission of the Jews to England in 1655. Protestant Emmanuel was a source of substitutes when Royalist heads of Cambridge colleges were ejected by the Cromwellians: Whichcote and Worthington were appointed at King’s and Jesus (and were then in turn ejected at the restoration of Charles II); Cudworth was appointed at Clare but resigned early, allegedly because Clare would not pay him.

Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683) was the earliest of the ‘Platonists’, but the main source for his tolerant, optimistic and rational philosophical views are his posthumously published sermons, which amount to a consistent body of ethical teachings. For Whichcote, human nature is rational and perfectible, and God communicates with man as much through reason as through revelation. Like other Emmanuel Platonists, Whichcote emphasises interior spirituality over the externals of religion (which, of course, offended those who prized the latter). Whichcote’s Emmanuel pupil John Worthington (1618-1671) was an active translator and editor of philosophical works.

Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688) was perhaps the most significant of the group, publishing major work in his lifetime, although important material remains unpublished in manuscript. For Cudworth, as for Plato, soul is ontologically prior to the physical world. Mind precedes the world, and ideas and moral principles are eternal and self-subsistent things. Since our minds mirror the mind of God we are furnished with the ability to reason, and Cudworth posits a ‘Plastic Nature’ that acts as an intermediary between the divine and the natural world, through which God makes his wisdom and goodness intelligible through created nature. Much to his disgust, Cudworth’s refutations of atheism in his The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) were criticised for showing too much tolerance, with a supposedly  crypto-atheistic intent. His daughter Damaris Cudworth (1659-1708) may be seen as one of the early women writers of philosophy in England. She was a friend of John Locke, corresponded with Leibniz, and, despite chronic eyesight problems, published two books: A Discourse concerning the Love of God (1696) and Thoughts in reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705). Her thinking is a mix of her father’s Platonism, Lockean theories and arguments, and her own proto-feminist advocacy of education for women and a life of reason.

The short life of another Emmanuel Platonist, Nathaniel Culverwell (1619-1651) meant that his important Discourse was published posthumously. The Discourse resonates with the humanist spirit and liberal theological outlook of Whichcote. Culverwell conceives of God as an intellectual being who communicates with man through reason which is the ‘light of nature’, an ‘intellectual lamp’ placed by God in the human soul. Culverwell is optimistic about human capacities, seeing all human minds as furnished with ‘clear and indelible’ principles of reason and morality, such that we become more like God through the exercise of reason. The College Library’s copy of Culverwell’s Discourse has been dedicated by its donor in an inscription to the Master ‘and to the Fellows of that religious and happy foundation’.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'A creative writing prompt... from Dr Rosy Thornton' on 9 Jul 2020

Over the past 12 weeks, the lower levels of traffic, aircraft and other human noise has made many of us more attentive than usual to the sound of birdsong. But the rich texture and variety of the dawn chorus is notoriously difficult to reduce to words. Browning wisely didn’t try – he left the thrush to do his own recapturing – but every morning at 05:58 or thereabouts on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Tweet of the Day’ some brave naturalist, broadcaster or writer has a go at describing the churrings and chatterings of their chosen species. Some attempt phonetic rendition, while others resort to metaphor, from the mundane to the fanciful. Here is nature writer Mark Cocker comparing the song of the wood warbler to a coin spinning round on a metal top:

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b09wswn8

So here’s your writing exercise: choose the song of a common bird and try to find ways of describing the sound.

www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-songs/what-bird-is-that/


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: William Bedell, a pioneer of tolerance' on 9 Jul 2020
Top row: Pages and detail from William Bedell’s Hebrew Bible (Emmanuel MSS 5, 6, 7). Bottom row, left to right: The Books of the Old Testament Translated into Irish (London, 1685); The ABC opened to show parallel texts of the Creed in English and Irish; The ABC, or The Institution of a Christian (Dublin, 1631).

Three rare books in Emmanuel Library witness to the legacy of a life that represents a remarkable openness to other cultures.

William Bedell (1571-1641) came to Emmanuel as a student in the year of its foundation, 1584. He was partially deaf. By 1592 he was a Fellow and by 1597 ordained; he later left, as the Founder intended, to take up the ministry. By 1607 he was chaplain to the English ambassador to Venice. It was an exciting time for an English Protestant to be in Venice, since the Serene Republic’s decidedly unserene relations with the Papacy at this period made Protestants dare to hope that Venice too would throw off the shackles of papal authority. Bedell much admired the beautiful Venetian churches and spectacular ecclesiastical ceremonies, and his affection for Venice always moderated his staunchly Protestant criticisms of Roman Catholicism. It was in Venice that Bedell took Hebrew lessons from a prominent rabbi of the Venetian ghetto, Rabbi Leo da Modena, and at this time that Bedell acquired – reputedly for its weight in silver – the splendid thirteenth-century Hebrew Bible that he would later bequeath to Emmanuel.

After returning to his parish duties near Bury St Edmunds, Bedell reluctantly accepted appointment in 1627 as Provost of Trinity College Dublin. Here he controversially instituted frequent lectures in the Irish language and began his own study of Irish, intent on bringing the reformed faith to the Irish in their own tongue. Neither Bedell nor his wife had wanted to leave the safety and comfort of Suffolk for Ireland – and there was no financial incentive – but Bedell felt it was his duty. In 1629 he was appointed Bishop of Kilmore in Co. Cavan, a predominantly Gaelic-speaking area. Bedell published a bilingual catechism with parallel English and Irish texts (Dublin, 1631), and Emmanuel possesses in Archbishop Sancroft’s library one of the only two known copies surviving of this little book. Bedell also worked on a translation of the Old Testament into Irish, the bulk of which was prepared under his direction and with his assistance. It was published posthumously in 1685 and long remained the only translation.

Although so staunchly Protestant, Bedell was comparatively liberal in Ireland: he believed souls should be won by persuasion, and was respected by both Protestants and Roman Catholics for his opposition to corruption in the Church of Ireland and his concern for the spiritual welfare of Irish people. At a time when most Protestants thought the Irish language should be stamped out, Bedell’s catechism and Old Testament show him respecting, accepting and adapting to the culture in which he found himself.

In the Irish rising of 1641 Bedell was evicted from Kilmore by the rebels and his library and effects were burned (his Hebrew Bible being saved by a grateful admirer). During an unusually severe winter he was confined for several weeks on the derelict island-fortress of Clough Oughter. This broke his health and he died soon afterwards. As a sign of respect the rebels provided a military escort for his funeral cortege and fired a volley over the grave, pronouncing the ambivalent epitaph:

                           ‘Requiescat in pace ultimus Anglorum’

                  [Rest in peace, ultimate – best? last? – of the English]. 

(Bedell’s Hebrew Bible has recently been digitized as part of an ambitious project by The National Library of Israel to digitize all Hebrew manuscripts).

 

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'What to do about all the plastic bottles?' on 9 Jul 2020

Anthony Newman (1991) is the founder of Ape2o, a business with an environmental focus. Here, he tells us about what inspired him to tackle the planet's plastic problem, and how Ape2o is aiming to provide the solution. 

My name is Anthony Newman (matric. 1991) and I have fond memories of my time at Emma studying Economics. We were all blessed with great tutors (thank you Mike Gross!), a great location and beautiful gardens.

I’ve been asked to write a short piece about how I got to run a business with environmental impact at its core. So here goes.

When I left Cambridge it’s safe to say I took the path less travelled. A ski season, followed by 10 years in the music industry releasing records (some hits, some misses), 5 years in marketing and advertising ventures learning about brands, then starting my own businesses in drinks (a functional soft drinks co themed on extreme sports and then a craft microbrewery in Tropical North Queensland).

It was in Australia where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef that I saw at first hand the plight of turtles and sea life due to plastic waste in all its forms and resolved to do something about it (having admittedly been part of the problem up until then). I spent the next 3 years after moving back to London in 2015 devising a plan to eradicate single use plastic water bottles, with the help of a great team.

Ape2o was born: the anti-plastic-bottle Water Company. It’s a pun of H2O with a proud Silverback Gorilla logo. The thinking being we should all GO APE about this situation and do something about it, each being our own Guerillas in the fight for change. But how? Or more importantly why? 

So the How is a network of public water vending machines that use micro-filtration and UV light to purify mains water (removing organic/inorganic impurities and microplastics, but keeping natural minerals) and that offer chilled and sparkling options for 25p contactless; a range of 100% plastic-free, steel refillable bottles; and a 10% promise to use 10% of all topline sales to transparently fund ocean, beach and river clean ups and anti-plastic education projects.  We currently have 4 locations – London Zoo, New Street Square & One New Change in the City, and Hampton Court. 

We plan to use a tech platform for good, with maps to find our “Big Ape” machines, for easy ordering of our “Silverback” bottles, and to relay the personal and company environmental milestones that we’re all about – i.e. plastic saved from landfill/oceans, resources saved from not making single-use bottles, clean up projects and their achievements.

The Why is…it takes a lot to change entrenched consumer behaviours, and people buy plastic bottled water because it’s damn convenient with trusted purity. But paying twice the price of petrol for it is madness. So we focus on the Why – BE a part of the solution not the problem, get swept up in this movement for change, see the results of your simple action every day multiplied by millions and how that empowers you to evangelise and tell others. Make re-use cool. Use incredible imagery of the natural world all over the Big Apes and in our socials to inspire people and connect them to good decisions and outcomes.

That’s how we go about change and building back better – the carrot can be better than the stick. I sincerely hope this “global reset” moment is not wasted . And I have to say it makes me feel great to wake up to this mission every morning. It’s incredibly inspiring and humbling. A looong way to go, but I know it’s worth it.


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Saint Dominic's Press' on 24 Jun 2020
Top row, left to right: Eric Gill, Dress (1921), ‘She outshines the peacock’s excess above his mate’; Hilary Pepler and Eric Gill, Nisi Dominus (1919); Pilate: A Passion Play (1928), woodcut by David Jones. Bottom row, left to right: Hilary Pepler and Eric Gill, The Way of the Cross (1920); woodcuts after Gill’s designs for his Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral; Woodcut from the cover of King George and the Turkish Knight: Old Sussex Play (1921).

As a result of the donation of the Chapman Collection of twentieth-century material, Emmanuel Library has interesting items from Saint Dominic’s Press, which was founded in 1916 in the East Sussex village of Ditchling by Hilary Pepler (1878-1951), with Eric Gill (1882-1940) providing wood engravings. This press became part of the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic, an artists’ colony established at Ditchling in 1921 by Pepler, Gill and Desmond Chute (though Gill left the community in 1924). The Guild espoused a communal life and self-sufficiency, based around work and faith, and their idea of a medieval guild. Their core principles were a devout Roman Catholicism, resistance to industrialization and urbanization, and a commitment to Distributism, a political movement that championed individual land ownership in rural communities and whose contemporary proponents included G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. The community had grown to 41 members by 1922 and eventually occupied a cluster of communal buildings, workshops, family homes and a chapel on the edge of Ditchling Common. The Guild was part of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and among the artists and craftsmen drawn to join were wood engravers, weavers, silversmiths, calligraphers, and artists and illustrators. A plaque produced in the community bears the self-description ‘Men rich in virtue studying beautifulness living in peace in their houses’. Men? Yes, there were no women members until the 1970s. The Guild was finally disbanded in 1989, and is now commemorated by a small museum at Ditchling.

      Key to the community was its private press of Saint Domenic’s, which printed a variety of pamphlets and books, many on religious themes, or propounding the philosophies of the artists and their theories about craftsmanship, or the failings of modernity.  A pamphlet entitled In Petra produced by Gill and Pepler in 1923 has some wood engravings by David Jones (1895-1974), and the verse that accompanies a woodcut by Jones of an aspidistra – the once-ubiquitous house-plant – perhaps can serve to catch the pietistic tone:

         God made the Aspidistra,
         A bold and bulbous weed,
         To grace the ground of Eden 
         And flourish without seed.

         When Man became respectable, 
         He stole it from the field 
         To hide his utter nakedness 
         Behind its leafy shield …

         He had an Aspidistra,
         Green in a marble bowl,
         Brass candlesticks on either side –
         By then he’d lost his soul …

         So burn your Aspidistras, 
         And vase and candlesticks, 
         Return your lace to Nottingham,
         And make a Crucifix.

       Something of the same tone figures in Gill’s 1921 pamphlet Dress: Being an Essay in Masculine Vanity and an Exposure of the Un-Christian Apparel Favoured by Females (No 7 in the bracingly-entitled ‘Welfare Handbooks’ published by the Press), which includes a woodcut by Gill on the theme ‘She outshines the Peacock’s excess above his mate’, showing a woman admiring herself in a piece of millinery worthy of Royal Ascot.  Another striking woodcut by Gill shows the Devil seated in a cart being drawn by a working man, while the artist strikes at the Devil from behind with a club so large that it breaks out of the frame of the picture.

      Pepler had a contemporary reputation as the author of mimes, and when the Press published a Sussex Mummer’s Play, King George and the Turkish Knight: Old Sussex Play (1921) it was because this was seen as ‘genuine folk drama played by the peasantry’ that was ‘undoubtedly an offshoot’ of the miracle plays put on by medieval guilds. But this was heritage that was fast disappearing and had been taken down from someone who had last participated in a performance in a Sussex village in the early 1890s.  The notes stress the play’s distance from any contemporary ideas of dramatic verisimilitude: the actors, forming a semi-circle, should each ‘march forward three paces to deliver his oration’, almost chanting their words in a monotonous sing-song with little or no expression. The Valiant Soldier can have a soldier’s red jacket, but ‘in modern representations the tunic would probably be in khaki’. The Turkish Knight is to have ‘black face and beard’  (oh dear …).

      A tiny pamphlet Concerning Dragons (1916), by Pepler and Gill, is made for child-size hands.  On the left-hand page of one opening, beneath a woodcut of a worried-looking child in bed, with an adult peeping through the bedroom door, is the rhyme:

       CHILD:

       When Michael’s angels fought
       The dragon, was it caught? 
       Did it jump and roar?
       Oh! Nurse, don’t shut the door.
       And did it try to bite?
       Nurse, don’t blow out the light.

       NURSE:

       Hush, thou knowest what I said,
       Saints and dragons all are dead.


On the right-hand page, beneath a woodcut of a child holding a crucifix towards a very large devil with claws, is the rhyme:

        FATHER (to himself)

       O child, Nurse lies to thee,
       For dragons thou shalt see.
       And dragons shalt thou smite –
       Let Nurse blow out the light!
       Please God that on that day
       Thou may’st a dragon slay.
       And if thou dost not faint,
       God shall not want a saint.


Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Pride Month: a message from our LGBT+ officer' on 24 Jun 2020
ECSU LGBT+ Officer Louis and his friend celebrating Cambridge Pride in 2019

Happy Pride Month everyone! As ECSU LGBT+ officer, one of my favourite memories from first year was being able to attend the first ever Cambridge Pride celebration on Jesus Green with other members of Emmanuel College. It was my first time at a pride parade, and it was so nice to see students and locals from across the city coming together to celebrate being open and proud of our identities.

Sadly, this year because of COVID-19 most pride parades have been cancelled, but we’re still finding ways to keep in touch! We students will be having an drop-in zoom call before the end of the month to celebrate pride together, and I’ve been keeping in touch with many of my LGBT+ friends through video calls and social media, and even making new ones through a CUSU LGBT+ penpal scheme.

Although it would have been nice to celebrate in the streets and parks of Cambridge once again, lockdown has been an important reminder that being LGBT+ brings a sense of community that remains just as strong even when I’m far apart from my friends. It’s also allowed me to keep in mind that pride isn’t just a public thing, but it’s also about self-love, and about gradually learning to be confident and happy with who we are as queer people, whether we’re alone, with friends, with family, or anywhere in between. I hope any LGBT+ alumni have had a lovely month!

Louis 


Image for the news item ''Coronavirus' - what's in a name? ' on 23 Jun 2020
Professor Anthony Waterson, former Emmanuel student and Fellow

Reams have been written about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, but what about the word ‘coronavirus’ itself, which was officially coined in 1968? It has been stated many times that the name comes from the Latin word corona, meaning ‘crown’ – despite the fact that the now-familiar images of the spiky, spherical virus particles, do not look remotely like crowns. The true story is a fascinating one, and involves a former Emmanuel Fellow, Professor Anthony Waterson.

Tony Waterson was admitted to Emmanuel in 1941, where he achieved a double First in the Natural Sciences Tripos. When he became liable for military service in 1943, the college fought hard, and successfully, to keep him, arguing that he was one of the ‘very best’ students and should be allowed to complete his scientific studies. Tony qualified as a doctor in 1947, and became M.D. in 1954, the same year that he returned to Emmanuel take up a Research Fellowship. He went on to become a lecturer in the Pathology Department at Cambridge, where his interest in virology was kindled.

Tony was appointed to the Chair of Medical Microbiology at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, in 1964, where one of his first acts was to headhunt a brilliant young electronmicroscopist, June Almeida, to help his team’s research into viruses. Born in Scotland, June had been working in Canada for ten years when Tony met her, and he immediately recognised the value of the techniques she had devised for identifying sub-microscopic virus particles. While working as a member of Professor Waterson’s research team, June examined under an electron microscope a sample of nasal ‘washings’ sent to her by another scientist, David Tyrell, and found it to contain a novel virus, variants of which she had come across before, although her findings had not then been widely accepted.

Now that June was sure they had indeed identified something new, she, David and Tony met in the Professor’s office, to discuss what this family of viruses should be called. As they later explained, the virus particles had a fringe of ‘rounded or petal shaped’ projections ‘recalling the solar corona’. They therefore decided that the most appropriate name would be coronavirus, to reflect this ‘characteristic appearance’. The name of the virus, then, refers to its resemblance to the aura of plasma that surrounds the sun, and has nothing to do with royal headwear.

June, David, and a small group of colleagues published their findings soon afterwards, but still needed to get formal approval for the new name from the appropriate sub-committee of the International Committee for the Nomenclature of Viruses. This did not present any difficulties, though, because the Chairman of the sub-committee was none other than…Professor Anthony Waterson!

Amanda Goode, College Archivist


Image for the news item 'A creative writing prompt... from Dr Rosy Thornton' on 23 Jun 2020

Taking advantage of the absence of undergraduates currently in residence, the College has been undertaking renovation work to some of its student accommodation. Carpenters, replacing worn floorboards in a set on the top floor of Old Court, discover hidden beneath the floor an old tobacco tin (or perhaps a Tupperware box, or leather pouch, depending on your choice of timeframe), placed there by some past resident of the room, and containing…. what? Why was it placed there, and why was it never recovered?


Image for the news item 'A creative writing prompt... from Robert Macfarlane' on 10 Jun 2020
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We are not the first age to respond to pestilence and pandemic, nor will we be the last. The word "quarantine" comes from the Italian "quaranta", and refers to the forty-day period of isolation that was imposed on ships arriving into European ports during medieval times of plague (originally the time-period was thirty days, and the term was "trentina"). Your prompt is to write about "quarantine" and isolation in some way; now, or historically, or in an imagined future; personally or hypothetically; in a poem, a short story, an essay, or any form that seems fit to you.


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: The Chapman Collection ' on 10 Jun 2020
Songs to Our Lady of Silence (S. Dominic’s Press, Ditchling, Sussex, 1921). Engraving by Desmond Chute; The Book of Jonah, with engravings on wood by David Jones (The Golden Cockerel Press, 1926); Spring Morning, by Frances Cornford, with woodcuts by Gwen Raverat (1915)

Complementing its collections of earlier rare books, Emmanuel Library is fortunate to have the Chapman Collection of twentieth-century items, donated by John Chapman and his wife Enfys. John Chapman (matric. 1943; died 2002) came to Emmanuel from the Leys School Cambridge, read Modern and Medieval Languages and stayed on to do a certificate in education. He sold antiquarian books and built up a personal collection of items published, some in very limited editions, by such private presses as the Golden Cockerel Press (1920-1961), the Cresset Press (1927-1966), the Rampant Lions Press (1924-2008), the Enitharmon Press (since 1967) and the Gregynog Press, together with publications about twentieth-century British artists, illustrators and engravers including Eric Gill, David Jones, Reynolds Stone, Keith Vaughan, Ivon Hitchens and Michael Ayrton.

 

A prevailing presence in the collection is the work as an engraver of Eric Gill (1882-1940) and those influenced by him. There are copies of Gill’s The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ (1931), Canticus canticorum (1931), The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Four Gospels (1934), along with Twenty-Five Nudes (1938), and copies of Gill’s own characteristic manifestos: The Devil’s Devices: or Control versus Service (1915), or Printing and Piety: An Essay on Life and Work in the England of 1931, and particularly Typography (1931). There is also a copy of Aldous Huxley’s Leda (1929), engraved by Gill.

 

The collection includes a copy of the splendid Book of Jonah (1926) with wood engravings by David Jones (1895-1974), one of the major illustrated works by someone remarkable as both poet and artist. There is also a copy of the limited edition of Jones’s The Tribune’s Visitation (1969), signed by Jones, and a first edition of his great poem In Parenthesis: seinnyessit e gledyf ym penn mameu (1937).

 

There are various editions of poems by Frances Cornford (1886-1960), grand-daughter of Charles Darwin and mother of the poet John Cornford (1915-1936) who was killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Her Spring Morning (1915) and Mountains and Molehills (1934) have woodcuts by by her cousin Gwen Raverat, and her Autumn Midnight (1923) has engraving by Eric Gill. The latter was published by the Saint Dominic’s Press which is strongly represented in the collection, including a 1926 pamphlet featuring woodcuts based on Gill’s designs for his Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral.  Later items, including works illustrated by John Piper, Michael Ayrton and Ceri Richards, mean that, thanks to John and Enfys Chapman, Emmanuel Library has strong holdings in choice twentieth-century items to set alongside its rare books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

 

 

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'The future of forests' on 10 Jun 2020
Jonathan Spencer

Jonathan Spencer MBE, former Head of Environment for Forestry England, spent a term as a Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emma in 2017.  The benefits for research into the future of our forests were clear.  

For those of us at the “distal” end of their career, opportunities to study at our ancient Universities are really rather limited. I had searched on and off, though not very systematically, but as a result of a stroke of good fortune I heard of the Derek Brewer Fellowship at Emmanuel from an old friend, the writer Richard Mabey. He encouraged me to write to the Master (application being something of a mystery …he had held the Fellowship in 2015). So, I did. In 2016 I received an e mail from Emmanuel informing me that “The Committee had resolved in my favour” …. very Cambridge … and I joined Emmanuel in 2017 for the Easter term. The term fled past but was an immensely satisfying time. The practical benefits were obvious; the opportunity to read and write without distraction from work and home, to stay up late or skip lunch if engrossed in a paper or book, and essentially have no obligations beyond the task one has set oneself. The other benefits though far outweighed these. The gardens in spring and the ancient Plane Tree, the exceptionally friendly and supportive Fellows, staff and students, and of course the opportunities for engagement with researchers and others of direct relevance to the future of forests and biodiversity. I was really fortunate in being hosted in Cambridge not just by Emmanuel College but by the Conservation Science Group in the David Attenborough Building.

 

Working as Head of Environment for Forestry England, the land management arm responsible for Forestry Commission forests and woodlands across England, was a huge and full-time job …. from beavers and martens to forest soils and fungi, forest certification, the impact of tree diseases, via the conservation of rare and beautiful species of all manner of plants and animals to the intricacies of deer and venison management. Working with so much expertise left one with a tremendous insight into a whole raft of land management issues and challenges…but virtually no time to read, write or think. Given the tremendous privilege of working with so much expertise, over the whole of the country and over so many years, I was looking for an opportunity to take time out from the fascinating but furious whirl of work and catch up with the academic research into the pressing issue of “forest resilience”; the capacity of our woods and forests to cope with and recover from the twin challenges of rapid climate change and the spread of new and often devastating pests and diseases. The latter were arriving in ever increasing numbers as a result of the globalisation of trade, welcomed into our forests of limited species diversity and stressed by environmental challenges such as drought and warming winters. Bringing together academic insight and the practical experience of so many skilled forestry and conservation colleagues seemed like an important task, and a suitable way to acknowledge both their support, and the rich array of opportunities I had been blessed with throughout a career working in nature conservation and forestry.

 

Since my time with Emmanuel I have retired from the Forestry Commission, freeing up time for many other projects. I have a book to write (which seemed like such a good idea at the time), I teach and lecture on conservation and forest ecology issues, continue to support several rewilding projects across the country, and, with a team of others, continue to hold the Field Studies Council course on Woodland Ecology & History at Flatford Mill in Essex, run for many years by the late Prof. Oliver Rackham. And in a most exciting development I support my wife Alison in her work to support the farmers and landowners of West Hampshire in their ambitions to revitalise the wildlife and ecology of both their farmland and the River Test.

 

The work undertaken at Emmanuel led directly to the publication of a quartet of four papers in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry* on the nature and importance of forest resilience and the policy challenges that we now have to tackle, with growing urgency, to embrace resilience measures to sustain the role of our forests as “Natural Capital Assets”.  The first of many key discussions on forest resilience was held at Emmanuel, with a daylong workshop held for Forestry Commission staff in the spring of 2018. The workshop members were welcomed by Sarah Bendall, Development Director at Emmanuel, with words taken directly from the Founder, Walter Mildmay. On being asked about the establishment of the College by Queen Elizabeth I he responded using the oak as a metaphor:

“I have set an acorn, which when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof"

What could have been more appropriate? We hope, Sarah and I and indeed the Master Dame Fiona, that the relationship now established between the College and the future our forests can be sustained into the future.

 

Jonathan Spencer MBE (2017)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: the rise of the hardback' on 28 May 2020

Images from left to right: Naples: painted by Augustine Fitzgerald; described by Sybil Fitzgerald (London, 1904); Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste, and Recreations for Town Folk, in the Study and Imitation of Nature, by James Shirley Hibberd. 2nd edn (London, 1857); Familiar Wild Flowers. Figured and Described, by F. Edward Hulme (London, 1890?).

Readers of this blog are likely to have seen – whether in the libraries of country houses or educational foundations – libraries with walls lined with leather-bound books, sometimes with lavish gilt decoration. The bindings of early books are much studied by historians of the book, and Emmanuel has some choice examples. These begin with a copy of Theodore Beza’s theological treatises (Geneva, 1573), dedicated by him to Emmanuel’s founder, Sir Walter Mildmay, who presented it to the College – it is sumptuously bound by Jean de Planche. In 1659 Rachel, Countess of Bath, a great-granddaughter of Sir Walter and one of the College’s early women benefactors, bequeathed books to the value of £200, most of which are still in our library and with her armorial device gold-tooled on the covers.

But by what developments did the book as a bound item move from the leather-bound books of former centuries towards the utilitarian hardback of today?  One of the nineteenth century’s most influential legacies to the history of book production is the cloth case. Ever since the Middle Ages, textiles had been used to cover bindings of manuscripts and books, but the velvets and silks used for this purpose were expensive and de luxe items, as with the Latin Bible in Emmanuel Library, bound in crimson velvet, which belonged to Edward VI. By contrast, the cloth coverings of the Victorian period were developed for their utility and cheapness, and lent themselves to the increasing mechanization of the book trade.

By the later eighteenth century, some types of coarse canvas were being used to cover school-book bindings since these items were subject to heavy use. But it was not until 1823 that a purpose-made, filled and glazed bookcloth was developed for covering cased-in books. It soon became the binding of choice, used ubiquitously by Victorian publishers. Bookcloth was much cheaper than leather, and much more durable than a paper covering. It could be produced in a wide range of colours and embossed finishes. It was also capable of taking detailed blocked impressions, stamped with a blocking press rather than being built up by hand with individual tools.

The early decades of the nineteenth century saw new developments in the mechanization of the printing process. Developments of machines to speed up the binding process soon followed, making books much cheaper to produce. The cloth case was the ideal binding for use on such books, because the sewn textblocks and the cases could be prepared in separate processes and then simply pasted together at the end of the production line.

Such case bindings were certainly less robust than books from earlier centuries bound traditionally ‘in boards’ (that is, with the boards attached to the textblock before the book was covered in leather). But books in case bindings were affordable to a much wider range of people. So it was that a form of book binding that started as a mere temporary cover – designed to be replaced after purchase by wealthy customers with a smarter binding of their own choice – came to be accepted as a permanent form of binding. With this development, some bindings in bookcloth become lavishly decorated with gold and blind blocking, colour-printed designs, embossed patterns in the cloth, and elaborately shaped boards (as the two illustrated examples from Emmanuel Library’s collections demonstrate). The forerunner of today’s hardback books had been born.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: March of the King Penguins' on 20 May 2020
Left: British Butterflies (1951), by E. B. Ford; illustrations and cover by Paxton Chadwick. Right: The Isle of Wight (1950), illustrated and described by Barbara Jones; cover by Clifford Barry.

In the Graham Watson Collection, now in Emmanuel Library, is a complete set of the King Penguin series: some 76 slim hardback Penguins published between 1939 and 1959. Although hardly qualifying as ‘rare books,’ it is not surprising that Graham Watson, with his keen eye for book design and illustration, would collect this series. The King Penguins were shrewdly marketed as collectibles, aiming to appeal to what Penguin saw as the public’s ‘liking for illustrated keepsakes’. Soon overtaken by an era of total war, the King Penguins continued to appear nonetheless. Contemporary Penguin publicity emphasized their role ‘at a time when so many of our galleries and museums are closed’ and presented the series as fulfilling ‘a useful purpose in promoting an appreciation of art and as a reminder of the pursuits of peace’. They were never exactly cheap: earliest editions cost one shilling (twice the price of a normal Penguin paperback or a packet of Woodbines), and by 1951 they cost five shillings, no trivial outlay for most people at the time. Their format was typically an essay-length text of 30 pages, followed by 16 plates, because subject-matter and illustration were interdependent, inviting the literary-minded to look and the visually-alert to read. The first editor, Elizabeth Senior, a Keeper at the British Museum, lost her life in the Blitz in 1941, to be succeeded by Nikolaus Pevsner, newly released from an internment camp, who then edited the series until its demise. Some of the texts were penned by Pevsner’s friends among the staff of the South Kensington museums. They did so out of a love for their subjects, since financial rewards for the authors were minimal.

The remarkable range of titles is a tribute to the public’s wartime craving for education and information as this lived on for a while into the immediate post-war period. The series provided a serious but not over-demanding text for the intellect and a small feast for the eye, all attractively packaged (but by the late 1950s no longer commercially viable). Typical print-runs were 20,000 copies, but A Book of Toys, with its appeal to readers of all ages, ran to 55,000. Penguin publicity in 1950 boasted of King Penguins on ‘anything from the Bayeux Tapestry to Balloons, from Heraldry to Highland Dress’ (and there are excellent King Penguins on those subjects), but amid the variousness there are some predominant themes. There is a strong emphasis on natural history and botany, including: A Book of Roses (1939), Edible Fungi (1944), A Book of Lilies (1944), Poisonous Fungi (1945), Flowers of Marsh and Stream (1946), Flowers of the Woods (1947), Tulipomania (1950), and A Book of Mosses (1950). Those observant gardeners and walkers in the British countryside who enjoyed such books might also like the noticeably large number of King Penguins about birds, including: British Birds on Lake, River and Stream (1939), Garden Birds (1945) and A Book of Ducks (1951). There were also Some British Moths (1944), British Butterflies (1951; with a ravishing cover), and Some British Beetles (1948), although A Book of Spiders (1947) sadly suffered the indignity of being remaindered.

Another various theme is British heritage and applied and popular arts, with King Penguins on English Ballet (1944), A History of English Clocks (1947), The English Tradition in Design (1947), The Crown Jewels (1951), and Animals in Staffordshire Pottery (1953). There is an enterprising Children as Artists (1944) and the excellent Popular Art in Britain (1945), with its focus on samplers and smocks, carts and caravans, fairground roundabouts and pub interiors. There was also The Picture of Cricket (1955) by John Arlott.

Pevsner’s own interests are reflected in King Penguins on medieval sculpture and artefacts such as Medieval Carvings in Exeter Cathedral (1953), Misericords (1954), Monumental Brasses (1957), all preceded by Pevsner’s own classic essay on the exquisite carved foliage in Southwell Minster, The Leaves of Southwell (1945).

A few topographical King Penguins – Romney Marsh (1950) ‘illustrated and described by’ John Piper, and The Isle of Wight (1950) by the illustrator Barbara Jones – are fascinating records of how things were visualized at the time. As these suggest, some of the leading illustrators and artists of the period were involved: Life in the English Village (1949) had sixteen lithographs by Edward Bawden. The book- and cover-designs of King Penguins rather contradict our lazy current orthodoxy – that this was a drab and colourless epoch – through the sheer stylishness and elegance of their design.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Reinvigorating rainforest communities' on 19 May 2020
Rev Bob Short on a recent trip back to S-E Mexico

Today, we're very aware of climate change, deforestation and other environmental issues.  Here, The Reverend Bob Short (1967) tells us about working with local communities in the rainforests of Mexico, who had already identified signs of climate change due to the destruction of the forests, over 50 years ago. 

It was 50 years ago in June 1970 that I packed my bags for the last time to leave Emma and take my next step in life.  I also had to hang up my cricket boots as well, sadly a month before the Varsity match in which I should have been playing.  But my future life and work was beckoning and I realised that sport would not be a major part of my life in the future.

I had studied the 3 As – Agriculture, Archaeology and Anthropology and was on my way to join Wycliffe Bible Translators as an Agricultural Missionary.

I was assigned to work with a group of Tzeltal Maya Indians in South-East Mexico who were suffering devastating ecological destruction of their environment due to hundreds of years of slash-and-burn farming.  We were to try and help them develop sustainable ways of working their land and try and break the cycle of people leaving the region to move down to the Rainforest which in turn was disappearing at an increasing rate as the same slash-and-burn process took its toll on the fragile rainforest soils.

Even at that stage, the old men and women of the villages were talking about local climate change as the rainforest disappeared, with longer dry seasons and less predictable rains. 

My senior colleague, who later became my father-in-law, had in 1969 set up a small Agricultural Centre from where we worked out to the local communities and further afield to the rainforest area.  Hundreds of families helped us to develop a zero tillage system allowing all the organic matter to rot down and with the help of a little NPK and green manures they have been able to multiply their crops enormously, to become self-sufficient in maize, beans and pumpkins, and to conserve God’s creation.   

Today I am visiting the Centre again, which is still there and being run by the local Tzeltal Indians as a registered charity.  They still have excellent demonstrations of maize, beans, vegetables, small greenhouses, and two coffee groves producing eco-coffee cultivated under the shade of Leguminous trees which fix Nitrogen and provide tons of leaf mould.  They continue to reach out to communities as much as they can trying to mitigate the effects of environmental destruction.  

Reverend Bob Short (1967)


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: the picturesque' on 14 May 2020
Left: Sunset by William Gilpin; John Heaviside Clark, A practical illustration of Gilpin’s day (London, 1824). Right: William Combe, The tour of Doctor Syntax, in search of the picturesque. A poem (London, 1812)

A theme of Emmanuel Library’s Graham Watson Collection, as of the times when its hand-coloured books were created, are books illustrating travels in search of the picturesque. But what was the picturesque?

In 1782 William Gilpin published his Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, relative to Picturesque Beauty, illustrated with plates based on Gilpin’s sketches. Later publications focussed on the Lake District and West of England. These are not conventional guidebooks: they are guides to reading real landscapes in terms of ‘that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture’. The principles of picturesque beauty in landscape derived from interpretations of landscape painting (as in the plate above depicting a sunset from a guide to painting scenery).

It is sometimes suggested that a simplifying Western misreading of Chinese and Japanese landscape-painting and garden-design had prepared the way for the taste for the picturesque. This may go back to the writings of Emmanuel’s Sir William Temple (1628-99), who gave the College the furniture still in use in the Hall. It is the perception of a tastefully asymmetrical disorder, a contrived and artful irregularity in Chinese landscape art.

For Gilpin, nature excelled in providing colour and texture, but nature did not create picturesque compositions on its own. These had to be selected by the viewer, and an artistic eye might well improve on nature by adding some components and modifying others. A ruined abbey or castle would add implication and consequence to the composition, and Gilpin famously remarked that the judicious use of a mallet might make the ruins of Tintern Abbey more picturesque than they actually were.

Another trick was that the chosen viewpoint tended to be low down, which emphasizes the drama in differences of height represented within the composition.

Textures should preferably be rough and broken, structures dilapidated, and any straight lines were to be shunned. Objects possessing the requisite roughness and irregularity include ruins, Gothic architecture, hovels, broken stretches of water, shattered trees, worn-out and shaggy beasts, and the sorts of gypsies, beggars and bandits then familiar from the paintings of Salvator Rosa. Anything in efficient working order was in theory excluded. Appreciation of the picturesque is implicitly a symptom of special cultivation, almost a connoisseurship, and is to be acquired by discerning acquaintance with paintings.

In the 1790s, with travel on the Continent disrupted by the French Revolution, there was a growth in domestic tourism by those travelling to take pleasure in scenes and views, with a growing appreciation of uncultivated scenery in such upland places as the Lake District, the Highlands and North Wales. Many tourists were sketching, relating what they viewed and drew to what they knew of landscape painting, and striving to identify the viewpoint from which scenery becomes picturesque and accommodated to the rules of picture-making. Discerning tourists of the Picturesque peered at the landscape by means of ‘Claude glasses’ – named after the French artist Claude Lorrain, whose landscape paintings were an inspiration for the picturesque. Claude glasses were pocket-size convex mirrors, often tinted, which both framed and darkened the view. The glass’s convexity modified features of the reflected landscape – it might tend to distort foreground trees so that they appeared to curve inwards slightly, so framing the middle distance. The glass was often backed with a coloured foil which gave the composition a consistent tonality. The Claude glass could reduce a sprawling view to a compact composition but, to use one, you had to turn your back on what you were pictorializing. Scenic places became congested with view-junkies turning their backs on the view in order to frame it in their new-fangled device (does this sound familiar?). Falls, sprains and broken bones ensued, and pursuit of the picturesque became an object of satire, as in The tour of Dr Syntax, in search of the picturesque (1812), where Dr Syntax, a would-be connoisseur of the picturesque, is depicted falling backwards into a lake while sketching a picturesque ruin.

Yet the picturesque exerted too powerful a hold on the imagination not to continue to develop long into the nineteenth century and still to shape our own expectations of a ‘view’. After Waterloo ended twenty-five years of war, foreign travels in search of picturesque scenes and views were again a possibility. Books in the Graham Watson Collection reflect this taste, with tours not only of picturesque Europe – the Alps, the Rhine, and Italy – but also the Ottoman Empire, India, the Americas and other far flung places. As late as 1870, while visiting Italy, the novelist Henry James could remark: ‘I have talked of the picturesque all my life, and now at last I see it’.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Week 6: Mindfulness - Labyrinth' on 7 May 2020
Labyrinth in the Fellows' Garden, Emmanuel College

In case you missed it, Emma member Claire Thompson (2005) is designing short mindfulness activities each week for us to share with the college community during this difficult time.  To see last week's exercise, click here or join in with the new activity below.

Labyrinth

This week's mindfulness practice aims to complement the leaflet shared by Jeremy Caddick relating to the labyrinth in the Fellow's garden. Because of the 'lockdown', I know that many of you may not be able to get to the labyrinth - so guess what?  I've done my best to bring the labyrinth to you instead!  

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering path, but one that can be walked with intention.  The labyrinth represents both a journey to our centre and back out again into the world as well as a metaphor for the path we walk throughout our lives. It's a perfect opportunity for mindfulness and reflection. 

Unlike a maze which involves making choices and solving a puzzle, a labyrinth removes choice; there is only a single path to the centre. We simply allow the path to guide us, step by step. Walking in and out of the labyrinth is thus an exercise in trusting the path itself and to pause, reconnect and to receive whatever this moment may have to offer. We can then take whatever we receive back out into our lives. The magical little haven of the Fellow's Garden is indeed a perfect setting for a labyrinth.

Using two videos I took to set the scene, and some audio guidance from me - I invite you to find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit or lie down at home and immerse yourself in this visualisation

Where might the path lead you today? Wherever that is, don't forget to enjoy the journey. And like perhaps some of us are sensing during this 'lockdown', the way forwards in times of uncertainty is always... one step at a time!


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: Repton's 'Red Books'' on 7 May 2020
The two plates from Repton’s Fragments on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (London, 1816) show ‘Before’ and (after lifting the flap) ‘After’ at Beaudesert in Staffordshire, demolished in 1932.

Continuing from last week’s theme of learning to paint landscape in watercolour brings us to some books in Graham Watson’s collection published by someone who built a successful career out of selling clients the landscapes he painted – turned into reality in their own gardens.

In 1788, five years after the death of Capability Brown, Humphry Repton (1752-1818) launched himself as a landscape designer, after several unsuccessful previous ventures. He was 36, with four children and no secure income. He had no previous experience at garden design, but one thing he was good at was sketching. Repton set up business as what we would now call a consultancy. He presented his clients with a portfolio of his watercolours depicting their park or garden. His stroke of genius was to present these watercolours with a series of hinged flaps. On the flaps was painted the boring and unsatisfactory current state of the property. When clients lifted up these flaps they could see the temptingly beautiful transformations of their landscapes that Repton proposed. Repton had these flapped watercolours and his handwritten proposals bound in red leather for presentation to his clients. These ‘Red Books’ became his trademark: each was a unique artwork and many survive.

The two plates (above) from Repton’s Fragments on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (London, 1816) show ‘Before’ and (after lifting the flap) ‘After’ at Beaudesert in Staffordshire, demolished in 1932.

By the time Repton started in business the fashion for Capability Brown landscapes was fading, and although Repton initially positioned himself as Brown’s successor he soon moved to distance himself. Like Brown, Repton often advised felling trees to open up vistas. But Brown’s formula for great expanses of lawn sweeping right up to the house had had its day. Repton’s solutions involved bringing back a garden and flowers close to the house, with gravel walks and formal terraces and balustrades. In this, Repton is in the business of restoring a sense of foreground to the Brownian wide landscape. What he recommends for that foreground can seem a little cluttered and even fussy to a modern eye, but he proved to be the forerunner of long-running Victorian gardening fashions.

Brown had the grandest clients, but although Repton had some grand clients too, his client base was more mixed socially, and he advised on some distinctly modest properties. Repton could rarely work on Brown’s scale, and his business model was different. Brown sold a total service to his clients, implementing his designs himself on the basis of plans and maps provided to the client, and never publishing any account of his work. Repton charged a fee for the designs in his Red Books, but it was for the client to implement those designs, and inevitably many were only partially implemented or not at all. Yet Repton’s Red Books – and the illustrations from them that Repton recycled in engraved form in the books he published promoting his ideas on gardens and landscape – enable us to know much more of Repton’s work than remains on the ground. So it is with Repton’s fruitless aspirations to royal patronage: he drew up plans for a summer palace at Brighton in the Indian taste, but his rival John Nash got the job and built the Brighton Pavilion. Nothing daunted, Repton then published his own ideas in a lavish hand-coloured book (included in the Graham Watson collection), with all Repton’s usual techniques of hinged overlays to show the magical transformations that Repton might have provided. 

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Mindfulness: Week 5 - Nature memories' on 30 Apr 2020
The Paddock, Emmanuel College

In case you missed it, Emma member Claire Thompson (2005) is designing short mindfulness activities each week for us to share with the college community during this difficult time.  To see last week's exercise, click here or join in with the new activity below. 

Nature memories from Emma...

Aside from all being part of the natural world (like every other human being!), what else do we all have in common across the lovely Emma community? Well, the wonderful Emma, of course! 

This week I suggest we all spend a little bit of time reflecting on any "nature memories" we have of times spent in the beautiful college gardens we've all had the privilege to experience. This could be as simple as having lunch in the paddock with friends in the sunshine - or an "aww" moment with the ducklings on your way to a lecture! 

I've recorded a guided 'visualisation' practice to support you all in bringing a special "Emma nature memory" to mind...

It may be a nice opportunity to connect over this exercise... if you feel inspired, please share a few words about your memories in the comments on YouTube!


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week: colour-plate books' on 30 Apr 2020
The fourth and fifth plates from William Pyne’s Rudiments of Landscape Drawing, In a Series of Easy Examples (London, 1812)

Continuing last week’s theme of combinations of print and painting: Emmanuel is very fortunate that Graham Watson presented his collection of colour-plate books to his old college in 1975. This is a library of around 1,700 books illustrated with hand-coloured engravings, mostly created between 1770 and 1840, before the invention of colour printing.

Book illustrations printed from woodcuts or copper plates and subsequently coloured by hand had appeared from the early days of printing. But in the aquatint process, used in many Graham Watson books, not just simple lines but graduated tones could be etched on to the copper plate. Over the black and white image printed from this plate, water-colour washes could then be applied, with the graduated tones in the underlying print producing subtle effects in the hand-coloured final product.

The fashion for such colour-plate books was a particularly British enthusiasm, and went hand in hand with a very British taste for water-colours which was developing over the same period. So it is very appropriate that the Graham Watson Collection includes many hand-coloured books that were published with the aim of teaching the amateur artist those arts of water-colour painting which were on display in colour-plate books generally.

A good example is the plates shown from William Pyne’s Rudiments of Landscape Drawing, In a Series of Easy Examples (London, 1812). These are the fourth and fifth in a series of five stages that begins by guiding the pupil in first drawing a bare outline with correct perspective. The second stage is the ‘Improved Outline’ which ‘must be firmly drawn with a black-lead pencil’ and adds in most of the detail of masonry and foliage. Third comes the ‘First Effect’ which is much concerned with supplying the shadows of differing depths. The fourth plate shown here is the ‘Finished Effect’ which applies the final degrees of shading, with spaces of white paper left to receive the colouring. For both the shading and colouring stages, detailed instructions are provided on which paints to mix for which effects. Another contemporary manual provides examples of no fewer than 436 tints for the pupil to match.  

The authors of these guides promise instruction in composition, perspective, light and shade, the mixing and harmony of colours, and sketching from nature. They are addressed to an audience of ‘young persons’ and ‘the young artist,’ and often imply an audience of young ladies: in 1818 George Brookshaw published A New Treatise on Flower Painting, or Every Lady Her Own Drawing Master. Many such books have the format of two facing plates: one beautifully coloured, the other a black-and-white line drawing, not for ‘colouring in’ but as a guide to starting afresh. Emmanuel’s collection has a beautiful Studies of Flowers from Nature ‘Printed for and sold by Miss Smith, Adwick Hall near Doncaster’ (1818) which presents each flower ‘painted after Nature with a correct outline of each and instructions for producing a facsimile of the finished drawing by Miss Smith’.  It is a reminder of the generations of amateur artists schooled in water-colour that were to follow.

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Mindfulness: Week 4 - An interview with nature...' on 21 Apr 2020

In case you missed it, Emma member Claire Thompson (2005) is designing short mindfulness activities each week for us to share with the college community during this difficult time.  To see last week's exercise, click here or join in with the new activity below. 

An interview with nature...

How might the rest of the natural world around us be experiencing life? Of course, we’ll never know the answer, but that's not the point. This week's suggested practice is merely about asking the question.

Connecting with non-human parts of the natural world can be a powerful way to feel our innate belonging in nature - especially in these times of social isolation. This week's exercise is an invitation to nurture curiosity and compassion towards the rest of the natural world we share the planet with by 'interviewing' a mineral, a plant or an animal.

It's important to clarify that engaging with nature in this way does not equate to anthropomorphism. In fact, it’s the opposite. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behaviours to other living things. Instead, this exercise is an invitation to let go of our human perspective and wonder what the world may be like from another perspective - like we perhaps used to when we were children.

As AA Milne writes in Winnie the Pooh: "Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though, that's the problem". What if we could be humble enough to learn from the natural world? What if we paid more attention to minerals, plants and animals with an open mind and heart?

I hope you have fun with this week's practice!

Attached is a description of the "Interview with Nature" exercise here.


Image for the news item 'Rare book of the week' on 21 Apr 2020

The most beautiful of Emmanuel’s older rare books is also one that prompts many questions. It is a copy of Cicero’s De Officiis, that was printed on vellum at Mainz in Germany in 1465, but at some point the borders on its title-page and three other pages were richly illuminated. It is the earliest printed book in the Emmanuel library, yet it has also been given the appearance of a late-medieval manuscript. As a book, it looks both forward to the new world of printed copies and also back to the world of manuscripts as hand-painted artefacts.  

But who was it made for? All four borders are so liberally bespattered with Tudor royal badges that the book appears to proclaim its royal ownership with some emphasis. Borders and initials display the red rose of Lancaster, the coroneted portcullis, and shields of the arms of France quartering England (on one page contained inside the Garter) and supported by yales (fabulous horned beasts). But what leaps out is the profusion of triple and single ostrich feathers in a coronet with scrolls bearing the motto ‘ic dien’ (‘I serve’) – the emblems of Princes of Wales.

The consensus is that this book was made for the short-lived Prince Arthur (1486-1502), elder son of Henry VII and elder brother of Henry VIII. The initial on the title page depicts a young man in a richly ermine-trimmed gown, evidently with a tutor. But why the borders were apparently painted so long after the pages were printed is another unanswerable question.

The borders display beautifully-painted forget-me-nots, red roses, wild strawberries, sweet peas, daisies and acanthus scrolls, along with several doves and a small dog. The daisy was a favourite flower badge of Arthur’s pious and learned grandmother, the formidable Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), foundress of both Christ’s and St John’s Colleges. But daisies are ubiquitous in the borders of late-medieval manuscripts, so what could be another pointer to ownership might be, well, just a daisy.

HM The Queen, when shown the book during her 1984 visit to mark Emmanuel’s Quatercentenary, immediately asked ‘How did this get here?’  It is an excellent question, but unfortunately unanswerable. It is unlikely that it can ever be known how this book left royal ownership, but it is recorded to have been in Emmanuel before the end of the sixteenth century. So many things are unknowable about this book, but one thing at least is certain: this thing of beauty has been in the College for almost the whole of Emmanuel’s history.


Image for the news item 'Mindfulness: Week 3 - Permission to rest' on 16 Apr 2020

In case you missed it, Emma member Claire Thompson (2005) is designing short mindfulness activities each week for us to share with the college community during this difficult time.  To see last week's exercise, click here or join in with the new activity below. 

Permission to rest

There can be a huge pressure, even in these times of 'lockdown', to feel like that we should be seizing this moment by taking up exciting new hobbies, projects and being productive with this newfound free time. Of course, if we feel this drive, we can go with that flow and embrace it!  But what if it were okay if we didn't? What if we gave ourselves permission not to if we don't feel like it? 

Let's remember that whatever our circumstances at the moment, this is a really difficult and traumatic time for many. Our lives have completely changed almost overnight and our bodies and minds may have been consequently shocked into perhaps not having the same resources and energy as they used to.

So what if it were necessary to be kind and gentle with ourselves, to take the pressure off and take time to simply rest - in the company of nature? And what if it were enough for a while? Just being and belonging - alive and part of the natural world? Could there be a simple sense of peace and comfort in that? 

To support you with this, here's a 20 minute audio guidance for a mindfulness practice called "In Touch with the Earth". It's a guided resting meditation - with a reading of one of my favourite Mary Oliver poems at the end.  So this week, find a quiet spot by a window, in your garden or in a local park, lie back and enjoy!

If you'd like to find out more about Claire or expand your practice of mindfulness in nature, you can join the free "Sit Spot" initiative she has set up for people to connect with nature with others during this challenging time, by clicking here.


Image for the news item 'Dr Wu's face masks' on 16 Apr 2020
Above is a bead panel in traditional Peranakan style, made by Dr Wu's mother while he was a student at Emmanuel. The design was based on the Emma lion, but it became a Chinese Foo dog with a flaming pearl. This can be seen in the Peranakan Museum in Singapore.

Dr Wu Lien-Teh matriculated at Emma in 1896, and was the first Chinese person to graduate from Cambridge in medicine. As Madeleine Fairweather writes in the College Magazine in 2017, he was posted to Harbin in north Manchuria in 1910 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to lead a medical team to tackle an outbreak of pneumonic plague in the area.

An article by Christos Lynteris, ‘Plague Masks: The Visual Emergence of Anti-Epidemic Personal Protection Equipment’ in Medical Anthropology 2018 explains that Dr Wu realised that the disease was transmitted directly between humans in an airborne manner, overturning the theory that the disease was spread by rats and their fleas. Thus he promoted the development of a face mask, which he claimed was his own invention, and the first time such an epidemic containment measure was attempted.

Dr Wu’s mask was similar to surgical masks, but had more protective layers and a more complex tying process, so that it didn’t slip while operating outside in winter-time Manchuria:

‘This consists of two layers of gauze enclosing a flat oblong piece of absorbent cotton 6 inches by 4 inches. It can be easily made by cutting the usual surgical gauze (9 inches wide), as supplied from the shops, into strips, each measuring 3 feet in length. Each strip is then doubled lengthwise so as to contain in the middle a flat piece of cotton wool measuring 4 inches by 6 inches. At either end of the gauze two cuts, each measuring 15 inches, are made. Thus turning the pad into a three-tail gauze bandage, with the central piece of wool for covering the respiratory entrance. The upper tail of one side should be passed round the side of the head above the ear and tied to the other corresponding tail. The lowermost tail should in a similar manner be passed under the ear and tied to the one on the other side, while the middle tail should be passed over the crown of the head, so as to fix the pad and prevent it from slipping down the neck (Wu, L.-T. 1926 Treatise on Pneumonic Plague. Geneva, Switzerland: League of Nations, 393–394).’

There are some wonderful photos in Christos Lynteris’s article!


Image for the news item 'Mindfulness: Week 2 - Radio nature' on 7 Apr 2020
Claire creating her sound map by Byron's Pool outside Cambridge

In case you missed it last week, Emma member Claire Thompson (2005) is designing short mindfulness activities each week for us to share with the college community during this difficult time.  To see last week's exercise, click here or join in with the new activity below. 

Radio nature

Last week, we explored using our breath as an anchor to the present moment and to our innate belonging in nature. This week, I invite you to explore your experience of sounds by 'tuning into radio nature... and drawing a sound map!

Find a quiet spot outdoors, by a window or in the paddock if you're in college - and take an A4 sheet of paper and pen with you. Begin by settling down into your surroundings, noticing the physical sensations of your breath in your body. Notice what's going on in your mind and whatever that is, remind yourself that it's okay. Let it be and fade your attention back into your breathing. Allow yourself time to settle, there's no rush. When you're ready, start to tune into all the different sounds you can hear around you. 

What sounds can you hear nearby? Further away? From ahead? From behind? From above? Tune into the quality of the sounds. Are they soft? Harsh? Loud? Quiet? Tuneful? Are they pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? Imagine that you are immersing yourself in the soundscape, like a soft satellite dish on the earth - just receiving all the sounds. Let go of any effort to label, identify or explain. If you notice your mind labelling, just notice that it's happened and if possible, come back into your direct experience of the sounds.

Next, take your A4 piece of paper and draw a cross in the middle. The cross represents you spatially. Next, with your eyes open or closed, begin drawing a visual representation of the sounds you can hear all around you, a sound map. You can draw lines and squiggles to represent the quality of the sounds - or you can use whatever visual representation works for you. See where your creativity takes you! How does turning sounds into a visual map change your experience of the sounds?

If you don't have a suitable outside place to do this exercise, you can use this video of the Emma duck pond instead!

If you'd like to find out more about Claire or expand your practice of mindfulness in nature, you can join the free "Sit Spot" initiative she has set up for people to connect with nature with others during this challenging time, by clicking here.


Image for the news item 'William Sancroft's library' on 7 Apr 2020
Book of Hours, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1521; Certain Necessary Directions, as well for the Cure of the Plague, printed by John Bill & Christopher Barker, 1665

One of the great treasures of Emmanuel Library is the library of William Sancroft (1617-93), successively Master of Emmanuel (1662-64), Dean of St Paul’s (1664-77), and Archbishop of Canterbury (1677-90). Twice as large as the better-known library of Samuel Pepys, now at Magdalene College, Sancroft’s diverse book collection of 7000 items in 5000 volumes is one of the few personal libraries of the seventeenth century to survive intact.

Among its curiosities – and a moving emblem of survival and continuity – are the tattered remains of a Book of Hours printed in 1521, which Sancroft found under the Dean’s stall in the charred remains of Old St Paul’s after the Great Fire of London in 1666. That disaster had been preceded the previous year by a catastrophic outbreak of plague, and Sancroft’s library includes a topical book published in 1665 and entitled

Certain necessary Directions,

As well for the Cure of the PLAGUE,

As for Preventing the INFECTION:

With many easie Medicines of small Charge,

very profitable to His Majesties Subjects.

Set down by the Colledge of Physicians.

This book includes the instruction: ‘It is advisable that all needless Concourses of People be prohibited; that the Poor be relieved and set at work, and Beggars not suffered to go about; that all sale of corrupt Provision for Food be restrained; that Streets and Houses be as diligently and carefully as may be, kept clean …’ 

The book also shrewdly observes: ‘It is to be presumed, because everyone desireth his own liberty, that none will give notice of any suspicion of the Plague against themselves; wherefore that must be the Overseers’ care, upon any notice or suspicion of Infection, by the help of the Doctours, Surgeons, Keepers… to find out the truth thereof, and so to proceed accordingly…’

Barry Windeatt (Keeper of Rare Books)

Images by Helen Carron (College Librarian)


Image for the news item 'Mindfulness activities for the Emma community ' on 1 Apr 2020
A labyrinth in the Fellows' garden, designed for walking meditation

During this strange and difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are having to adapt to new ways of living and working.  Many of us are working from home for the first time, others find themselves working on the frontline delivering essential services to society, and some are unable to work at all during the pandemic.  To help members of the Emma community during this time, author, workshop facilitator and founder of Mindfulness of Nature, Claire Thompson (2005), will kindly be creating short 5-10 minute mindfulness activities each week for us to slot into our daily routines and improve our well-being.  Claire has recorded a brief introductory video here and this week's first exercise is below. 

Breathing nature... 
 

In times of uncertainty,  a helpful approach to life can be by taking one moment, one day or one week at a time. 

Our breath is one of our simplest anchors to the present moment - and also an accessible connection to our sense of belonging in nature. This belonging can be very supportive in times of social distancing and isolation. Why not try this simple exercise once a day this week?

Step outside (into your garden, your doorstep, open a window) and bring your attention to your breathing. Where do you feel the air coming in and out of your body? Feel into the direct physical sensations involved in breathing in and out - as if you were noticing your breath for the first time.  Allow your breath to breathe itself, there's no need to control it. Just be curious about your experience of this natural phenomenon we call "breathing".  Is your mind wandering? That's normal, it's what our minds do all the time. It's what they've evolved to do, to keep us safe. When you notice this, it's okay, just kindly bring your attention back to your breathing.  As you breathe in the fresh air from the natural world, remind yourself that trees release the oxygen we inhale and absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale. As we breathe in and out, we're borrowing air before returning it to nature. We share this air with each other and with the rest of the natural world - as it flows through all living things. Repeat this practice frequently for 5-10 minutes a day throughout your week. How does this make you feel?  

If you'd like to find out more about Claire or expand your practice of mindfulness in nature, you can join the free "Sit Spot" initiative she has set up for people to connect with nature with others during this challenging time, by clicking here


Image for the news item 'Working from home? How COVID19 is changing our working lives' on 25 Mar 2020
Karen Eyre-White

We’ve all become significantly more home-based over the past few weeks as a result of COVID-19. This is having far-reaching effects on how we live and work. Emmanuel member and productivity coach Karen Eyre-White (nee Eyre, 2003) explores the impact it’s having on our working lives and how we can all find new ways of working which help us to stay productive.

These are times of great change in how we spend our time. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has overturned our daily routines, changed our social fabric and fundamentally altered our working lives. Many of us are now working from home indefinitely, doing the daily battle with server connections, virtual meetings and our burgeoning inboxes, often alongside our spouse and children, and against the backdrop of the wider impact of COVID-19 on our relatives, friends and society.

If that’s you and your team, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, I can tell you that you are certainly not alone. Having graduated from Emma in 2006, I joined the Civil Service and worked my way up to be Chief Executive of a safety regulator – but after the birth of my daughter I wanted to do something I was truly passionate about, so I took the plunge and set up a productivity coaching business, Go Do. The businesses and individuals I work with are all grappling with a challenge that’s unique in its scale and impact, with significant implications for productivity, motivation and wellbeing.

We’re all different and we each need to find our own ways of working which help us to navigate this new and unfamiliar territory. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are three steps which can help us to feel more in control of our working lives when we’re at home:

  • Creating strong boundaries between home and work helps our brain switch gears more easily. Working in a specific place away from distractions, creating a sustainable schedule (and keeping to it), and having a daily ritual when you start work can all help. Experiment and see what works for you.
  • Being realistic about what we can achieve each day helps us to feel positive about what we’ve achieved rather than disappointed about what we haven’t. A short list of 3-5 priorities can keep us focused on and on track amidst all the distractions of home.  
  • Connecting virtually with colleagues can be crucial to both our productivity and our mental health. We all need different levels of engagement to feel connected and supported, so consider what the right balance is for you.  

When we emerge from this outbreak, society will have changed in ways it’s not possible to predict now.

In the realm of work, I believe we’ll look back and see this as a turning point. If we approach the situation proactively, supporting people to find new ways of working that work for them, there can be positive outcomes for individuals and the organisations they work for: increased flexible working, greater equality, and improved productivity for all.

Karen Eyre-White (2003)


Image for the news item 'Meeting global health needs' on 20 Mar 2020
Dr Kate Tulenko

With global health at the forefront of everybody's minds, we asked one of our members who works in this field to tell us about her career.  Dr. Kate Tulenko (1993) is a physician and health workforce expert focused on scaling up physician and nursing education to ensure that all people have access to health workers.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people alive today will never see a health worker their entire life.  The world does not have enough health workers to meet its needs, especially with the aging of populations. As a physician and health workforce expert, I have the privilege of serving at the forefront of global efforts to train, support, and retain more health workers. 

I served in the World Bank as coordinator of the Africa Health Workforce program and worked with Ministries of Finance, Health, and Education to train and retain more doctors, nurses, and other health workers.  I served as the Director of the US government’s global health workforce program, a six-year, $60 million program that worked in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to train more health workers and made noted advances and innovations in the way health professional schools are designed and managed, in how health workers are retained in under-served communities, and how they are supported to provide high quality care. I co-led the World Health Organization’s team that calculated that there would be shortage of 18 million health workers globally by 2030. 

In 2017, I founded Corvus Health, a social enterprise aimed at ensuring every person has access to high quality health workers.  I am currently working on an initiative with Operation Smile to start dozens of surgical training programs and nursing schools in low income countries.  We are pursuing a bold vision to build a single online training program for nurses accessible to all nursing schools that will be coupled with mentored clinical training in local hospitals.

Only by combining high-tech with high-touch will we be able to train enough health workers to meet the needs of every community.  

Dr Kate Tulenko (1993)


Image for the news item 'Memories of a cold winter at Emmanuel ' on 6 Feb 2020
The Winter of 1962/3

As we sit in our offices at Emmanuel feeling the February cold, Emma member Charles Hope (1960) shared the following story with us, about a much colder winter in the college...

The Winter of 1962/3 was one of the coldest on record, certainly the coldest in my life.  With the winds blowing across East Anglia, all of us wore pyjamas or tracksuits or even both under our trousers for week after week.

One morning as I was coming down the stairs from my room at the top of North Block, I met my Bedmaker on the way up.  She said she just had to tell me something and what follows is her story, virtually word for word as my memory of it remains vivid.

"I came in this morning and as I passed our washroom,  I saw Gladys (the other Bedmaker on my Staircase) standing in front of the sink.  She was holding something under a running tap and being a bit coy about it.  I asked her what she was doing and she said she was thawing out her teeth. She had put them in a glass of water in the bathroom last night and it was all frozen solid in the morning.  I asked why she hadn't thawed them out at home and she said 'All the taps were frozen too,  throughout the house.   The only water was what was left in the kettle.  I was going to use that and then put it back in the kettle to make my husband's thermos flask of tea that he takes to work. He refused to let me. He was not having his tea made with water that my teeth had been swimming about in, so I wrapped it all up in a tea-towel and brought it in here."

Charles Hope (1960)


Image for the news item 'Hat on Head, Hands on Hips ' on 4 Feb 2020
New court collage

Alice Strang (née Dewey, matric 1992) is an Emmanuel Woman through and through and has made her name as a Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art celebrating the achievements of women artists. Here she discusses her journey from undergraduate to National Gallery, which culminates in appearing in a work of art to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the admittance of women undergraduates to Emma, by – you’ve guessed it – a woman artist.

My father and maternal uncle studied at Emmanuel in the 1960s, my parents were married in the college chapel in 1966 and I arrived there in 1992, two years after my sister, Faith Archer (née Dewey, matric 1990). I had spent a Gap Year as an au pair in Florence and thought I would scream if I saw another Madonna and Child painting; thus began my love of modern art. I read History with Italian Part I, followed by a blissful History of Art Part II. This involved reading lists consisting entirely of books I would have chosen to read for pleasure. There were no modern let alone contemporary art papers available, so I got my fix by volunteering at the magical Kettle’s Yard.

After completing my degree, I joined Christie’s Graduating Training Scheme. Stints on the Front Counter and in the British Paintings and Jewellery Departments, led to becoming a Junior Specialist in Modern and Impressionist Art. Promotion and time in the Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Art departments secured me the position of Junior Curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. I left King’s Cross with my duvet and pillow in a bag in one hand and an Edinburgh A-Z in the other, planning to give it two years before trying to get into the Tate.

Twenty years later, now complete with a Glaswegian husband and two sons with Scottish accents, I am a Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland. I’ve curated exhibitions of women artists from Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981) to co-curating the current Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance show, which runs at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two until 19 April 2020 (https://www.nationalgalleries.org/exhibition/paula-rego-obedience-and-defiance). Much as a parent shouldn’t have a favourite child, nor should a curator have a favourite show, but I can’t help  having a soft spot for the Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965 exhibition and book, which revealed a new chapter in Scottish art history and for which I was made a Saltire Society Outstanding Woman of Scotland.

When women graduates of Emmanuel were asked recently to send in photos of their time at college, I nostalgically went through my albums and sent in a few. It was a delightful surprise to find (the least flattering) one featured lower left in New Court Overlay, 2019 by Matilda Schwefel (matric.2017 / ECSU President), created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Emma’s admittance of women undergraduates. Hat on head, hands on hips, I was mucking about in the Porters’ Lodge. Little did I know that the resultant photo would end up summing up not only my time at university but also my professional life thereafter.


explore THE FIRST BABY

Image for the news item 'THE FIRST BABY' on 4 Dec 2019
Dr Rachel Polonsky and her daughter Cecily

It is 40 years since the admission of the first undergraduate women to Emmanuel, but ensuring equality across the college community has involved many more firsts.  Former Emma Research Fellow, Dr Rachel Polonsky, tells her story. 

My years as a Research Fellow at Emmanuel from 1994 to 1998 were essential to establishing my scholarly career. At Emmanuel I wrote my first book, English Literature and the Russian Aesthetic Renaissance (Cambridge 1998) and found inspiration for my second, Molotov’s Magic Lantern (Faber, 2010). After Emmanuel, I spent ten years in Moscow, Russia, working as a writer and independent scholar before returning to academic life in Cambridge. I am now an Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Slavonic Studies and a Fellow of Murray Edwards College, where I will take up office as Vice President in Michaelmas 2019. I treasure my continuing involvement with Modern Linguists at Emmanuel as Director of Studies for Russianists.

During my time at Emmanuel I gave birth to my third daughter, Cecily. She was the first baby born to a woman Fellow of the College. Her advent in 1997 prompted the Governing Body to create a maternity leave policy for Research and College Teaching Fellows. The Governing Body deliberations set in motion by Cecily’s arrival painstakingly ironed out various complications over the interpretation and implementation of this policy and culminated in February 1999 in a new Statute (XVI.4), which guarantees that women Research Fellows will not be disadvantaged if they become mothers.

This summer Cecily graduated from Princeton in Comparative Literature and began work as a first-grade teacher in Brooklyn.

I am proud of Emmanuel’s respect for tradition and openness to change, and lastingly grateful for my happy years at the College.


Image for the news item 'Success, redefined' on 26 Sep 2019
Thomas Vellacott , CEO of WWF Switzerland

Thomas Vellacott (1996, MPhil International Relations) is CEO of WWF Switzerland. WWF‘s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Thomas is passionate about nature and has supported WWF since he was eight years old. Before joining WWF professionally, he worked for Citibank and McKinsey & Co.  Here, he discusses what success in his role means...

After 100 days in office, chief executive officers are expected to present their first breakthrough achievements. I have now been CEO of WWF Switzerland for about 2,500 days, so, by the same logic, I should have a lot to show for. The reality is more complex. In nature conservation, success is achieved in partnership with others. It’s impossible to distill, for example, WWF’s precise contribution to the growing population of lynx in the wild, or to sinking CO2 emissions. Attribution of success is not that relevant – often it amounts to little more than a vanity indicator.

What does count is that the alliance fighting for our planet is growing. The number of volunteers working with us has tripled in the last five years. Meanwhile, over 600 companies have signed commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Climate Accord. Investors have become an important driving force for sustainability, with the share of sustainably managed assets growing fast and accounting for over a quarter of the overall market. 

The current transformation of our economies towards greater sustainability is faster and goes deeper than any transition since the industrial revolution. Nevertheless, we are far from being on track to limiting global heating to under 1.5 degrees. Nor have we succeeded in reversing the global extinction crisis. Securing a living planet for us and for our children is the ultimate achievement to aim for. A collective success story that each of us will only ever make a small contribution to individually – but a success story we need to write together, even if it takes longer than 100 days.