– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.


November News

Archives & Manuscripts events at St Cross in November:

  • starting 4 November, Friday mornings 10am-1pm NaNoWriMo Come Write In! sessions for local (or indeed visiting) novelists participating in National Novel Writing Month.
  • 11 November, 10-1, NaNoWriMo session 2
  • 12 November: *not at St Cross* Anna will be speaking on a Balliol & WW1 topic at the Oxford at War 1914-1918 Roadshow (poster below)
  • 16 November, 1-2pm, Unlocking Archives talk: Prof. Matthew Balensuela (Depauw), The Music Theory Booklet Balliol 173A ff. 74r–81v: Copying and Content of an Early Medieval Theory Compendium
  • 16 November, 3-6pm, special collections private view for Balliol MCR
  • 18 November, 10-1, NaNoWriMo session 3
  • 25 November, 10-1, NaNoWriMo session 4
  • 29 November, 1-2pm, Unlocking Archives talk: Prof. Elliott Horowitz on this term’s exhibition, ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn’: Hebraica and Judaica at Balliol College
  • and stay tuned to @balliolarchives on Twitter for more #WW1, #SliggersCentury and #Movember tweets…


Chapel glass restoration

 Where are the windows?

Balliol people and visitors will be wondering where some of the Chapel’s stained glass has disappeared to. The short answer is that two windows have been removed for conservation work at the studios of York Glaziers Trust. Temporary translucent glazing is in place until the windows are reinstated around Easter 2017.


The College’s ancient stained glass in the Chapel and Library is one of its greatest treasures, and in the case  of the Chapel windows, its most publicly displayed .

The two windows being conserved both comprise small panes and fragments of much abused but beautiful late medieval and early modern glass from the Chapel replaced in the 1850s by William Butterfield’s design, the present building. It includes a panel showing Master Thomas Chace and the Fellows at prayer (about 1430), a panel of 1636 van Linge glass, and representations of 16th century donors, one of them recognizable by his Arms as Sir William Compton (c1482-1528). All is in poor condition now; after restoration and reinstatement next year it will have state of the art external protection which will not affect the appearance from the inside .

– JHJ, September 2016


What’s missing? a brief description of the subjects of the two windows

CVMA nIV, 3 lights. Top: left, unidentified shield; centre, arms of Compton and Brereton; right, unidentified shield. Middle: left, Virgin & Child, 1529-30, probably with Lady Compton & daughter; centre, Thomas Chace, Master of Balliol, & Fellows, kneeling, 15th century; right, King (probably Hekeziah) receiving messenger, 17th century. Bottom: Kneeling donors. Left, probably John Hygdon, President of Magdalen; centre, Sir William Compton; right, probably Thomas, Subdean of York.

CVMA nV, 3 lights. Left upper, St John the Baptist, left lower St Michael the Archangel; centre top, Virgin & Child, centre middle, St Anthony of Egypt, centre bottom, St John the Evangelist; right upper also John the Evangelist, right lower St Margaret of Antioch.

More about the history of the stained glass in the chapel is here, with links to further images of the windows and the work of the York Glaziers’ Trust.

All photos in this post taken by Anna Sander.


Early Thai students at Balliol College

Notes by Anna Sander, college archivist and curator of manuscripts, 2016.


The Universities Tests Act opened Oxford to non-Anglicans in 1871; before this date, membership of the University, and the right to take Degree Examinations, was closed not only to non-Christians, but also to British Roman Catholics, Protestants and Non-Conformists. This profound change took effect gradually; Balliol was among the first colleges to open in practice and principle, as well as in theory, to overseas students and those of other faiths. Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses 1715-1886 includes a final section on ‘Indians, etc.’ (shown below) – students from the Indian subcontinent and what would have been referred to then as the Near, Middle and Far East. The college affiliations speak for themselves. There are in fact 15 Balliol men on the list of 22 names; Tomatsune Iwakura transferred to Balliol in Hilary Term 1874. In addition, Jogendra Nath Sircar (Balliol 1874) should also be on the list.


Early Thai students  at Balliol College

The information below is drawn chiefly from the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Balliol College Register (1934), and covers students matriculating from 1871 up to the 1930s. Names are often recorded in college documents with several historical spelling variants and configurations.

1871: As far as can be ascertained from the records, the first Thai student in Oxford was a Balliol man: Sootchai Bhanuwongse [Sootshai Bhanuwongsee], born October 1851, the eldest son of Chruppya [Chao Phya Bhanuwongs], of Bangkok, Siam. He matriculated from Balliol on 25 October 1871, aged 20, and stayed for one year – this was the same year that the Universities Test Act came into effect. Unfortunately we have no other information about his time at Balliol, or any photos.

1873: Two years later the second Thai student, evidently the younger brother of the above, came to Oxford, though not to Balliol College: Surawongse Leck, third son of Chow Phyia of Bangkok. He matriculated from St Alban Hall (later absorbed into Merton College) in 1873 at the age of 19.

Several of the early Thai students attended English schools before coming to Oxford; this would have given them an introduction to English culture, educational systems and institutional life before starting university. More early Thai students at Balliol College, listed in the Oxford manner by year of matriculation (the year they began their Oxford studies) rather than year of graduation:

1883: Prince Svasti Sobhana of Siam (title Somdech krom pra Svasti Vartana Visistha), born 23 December 1865, youngest son of Maha Mongkut, King of Siam. Educated at the Royal College in Bangkok before coming to Balliol in Trinity Term (May) 1884. He stayed two years, until 1886. His Balliol tutors were WH Forbes, a Classicist, and GF Nicholl, Professor in Oriental Languages. He later became a Privy Councillor of Siam; a member of the Board of Local Government, of the Judicial Committee of the Pricy Council, and of the Code Commission of Siam; he was made Special Commissioner Justiciary for the Province in 1891. From 1892-1894 he held the position of First Minister of Justice, becoming Major-General of the Infantry Reserve in 1893. He was made Guardian to the Heir Apparent and was Plenipotentiary in Europe 1893-1897. His active career ended with the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1911-1919; after his retirement in 1919 he was mainly engaged in the study of Sanskrit, Pali, Comparative Philosophy and Buddhist Literature and Law, in connection with which he became a member of the Asiatic Society of Great Britain. He married, in 1900, the Princess Abhabarni, daughter of Prince Bijit: they had four sons and a daughter, who became Queen Rambhai Barni of Siam.


1889: picture3aKitiyakara Varalaksna, Prince of Chandaburi, Siam, born 8 June 1874, eldest son of King Chulalongkorn. Educated at Rockville School in Edinburgh, and privately, before coming to Balliol in Trinity Term (May) of 1890. He stayed at Balliol for two years, and his tutors were WH Forbes and AL Smith, a modern historian. He held the posts of Siamese Government Director General from 1899 and Comptroller-General of Finances from 1902. He became both Minster of Commerce and Communications and President of the Financial Council in 1923, and both a member of the Supreme Council and President of the Opium Commission in 1925. After becoming President of the Civil Service Commission in 1929, he soon retired. He married Apsara Saman, daughter of Prince Devawongse of Siam in 1895: they had six sons and six daughters. Kitiyakara Varalaksna died on 27 April 1931.  Balliol holds one photo of him, PHOT 20.12A Brackenbury Society (Balliol history undergraduates) 1891.


1899: Tanapicture2aya, Mom Chao,born 24 November 1880, son of HRH Prince Chakravarta of Siam. He was educated at Bath College before coming to Balliol for a year. During his time at the college his tutors were AL Smith and HWC Davis, both modern historians. He became Chief of the Foreign Office in HM Private Secretariat in Siam, but died sadly young in 1913. We have one photo (PHOT 30.35) of him, as a member of the Balliol College 2nd Torpid crew, taken spring 1900. Prized as a rowing cox (the person responsible for steering the boat and controlling its speed, and the only one who can see where the boat is going) for his light weight – 8 st 8 lb or 54 kg. This is the traditional position for the cox in these crew pictures – perhaps because it closely resembles his cramped position in the boat.

1908picture7a: Alexander Evelyn Cardew – an Englishman included in the list because of his close connections with Thailand later in his career.  After studying Classics and playing several sports at Balliol, he served in the Egyptian Civil Service from 1913-1924, and became Tutor to Siamese Government Students in England from 1927. He was awarded the Siamese Order of the White Elephant in 1931.


1910: [Waipicture6adyakorn, Wan (Mom Chao); Varnvaidya (HSH Prince);]  Bonsprabandh, Wan Waithayakorn Krommun Naradhip (Major-General HRH Prince), born 25 August 1891, son of HRH Prince Naradhip of Siam. He was educated at King’s College, Bangkok (King’s Scholar) and Marlborough College in England before coming Balliol for a full four-year degree course 1910-1914. His Balliol tutors were FF Urquhart, NS Talbot, a theologian and HWC Davis, another modern historian. He took his BA in 1917 and MA in 1926. After Oxford, he achieved a Lauréat from the École des sciencespolitiques in Paris. Returning to Siam, he entered the Diplomatic Service in 1917, becoming Secretary of the Paris Legation in 1919, First Secretary of the Foreign Office in Bangkok in 1924, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1926, and Minister to London, Brussels and the Hague in 1928. He served as Permanent Delegate to the League of Nations from 1929 and became Vice-Chairman of the World Court Conference in Geneva and Rapporteur to the Assembly in 1930, as well as the Chairman of the Agenda Committee of the Assembly. Following his resignation, he was employed as Head of the English Department at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok before taking up further positions including Ambassador at Washington (USA), Minster of Foreign Affairs and President of the United Nations General Assembly. He became Deputy Prime Minister in 1959. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford and was decorated with honours from many countries, including the Order of the Crown, Siam; Order of the Sacred Treasure, Japan; Order of the Crown, Italy; Order of the Crown, Belgium; Légion d’honneur, France. He received the rank of His Highness in 1939 and His Royal Highness in 1943. Balliol holds one photo of him (Waddy album 37).

1915 (Pramode Purnasiri) Phya, Buranasiri Bhongse, born 4 December 1897, eldest son of HE Phya Outhen Dhepakasintr Mahindhorn Sanbakanbodi of Bangkok. Educated at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire before spending a year at Balliol 1915-16 with tutors FF Urquhart and AW Pickard-Cambridge. He subsequently entered the Siamese Civil Service and became Assistant Director-General in the Revenue Department in Bangkok.


new academic year

I have pinched Society of American Archivists‘ excellent graphic and adapted it for Balliol!


new blog!


Balliol College Library‘s early printed books blog is up and running! Tune in all year for posts by project staff Lucy and Nikki on the Reconstructing Nicholas Crouch cataloguing & conservation project:https://balliollibrary.wordpress.com/. There’s a link in the menu bar at right as well.

monthly report September 2016

A few numbers about archives & manuscripts activity during September:

  • Number of enquiries (email etc): 41
  • Running total for 2016: 670
  • Number of researchers in person (unique users): 6
  • Number of person-days in the reading room: 6
  • Collections consulted: JEC Hill papers, AL Smith papers, Malcolm papers, medieval mss, Von Trott papers, college records
  • No of non-research visitors: 260+ (ca 250 Open Doors, 12 patronal festal evensong)
  • Interesting events: Anthony Powell Society display (Broad Street Library); Oxford Open Doors/OHCT Ride & Stride; Evensong for the patronal feast of the Holy Cross; Hebraica & Judaica exhibition opens; Academic Society reunion display; AL Smith family reunion presentation & display

Patronal Festival

A service of Evensong will be held in the chancel of St Cross, Holywell, to mark the Feast of the Holy Cross on Sunday, 18 September 2016 at 5pm.

Everyone is welcome

 Celebrant: the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker, Associate Priest of the University Church

 The Church of St Cross is a daughter church of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The recently restored Grade I listed building is now home to the Historic Collections Centre of Balliol College; its Chancel is preserved for occasional services.

Directions: http://archives.balliol.ox.ac.uk/Services/visit.asp#f