– 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.

Exhibition archive – Kimono Tea Party, June 1914

This article began life as a Document of the Week, Trinity Term 2006 Week 2.

Ah, Trinity Term, season of sunshine and extended Library opening hours. The college gardens come into their own; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and as spring was rather late this year, the chocolate tree in the front quad still giveth a good smell. Croquet wickets sprout abroad, and the chestnut trees in full glorious leaf provide some shelter for those last few fugitive smokers. Soon it will be time for Pimms on the lawn. But kimonos?

But of course, what Balliol lawn party is complete without kimonos and parasols? This week’s document, dating from June 1914, comes from one of FF Urquhart’s personal photo albums. 11 of these albums are in the Modern Personal Papers collections; they cover most of Urquhart’s long life at Balliol (1890s -1930s) as a student and then Fellow and Junior Dean. The thousands of photographs provide an invaluable record of the informalities of college life, as well as numerous holiday snaps. Those of Trinity Term 1914 are perhaps the most poignant; they provide evidence in black and white that it truly was a ‘golden summer’ of cricket and lawn tennis, punting and birthday parties. But more than exams loomed. Only a few pages later many of these elegant chaps reappear, having changed their kimonos for Army, RN or RAF uniforms.

You can see the tea party photos, the rest of this album, and other albums in the series, on Flickr starting here.
One account of this tea party is recorded in WR Wheeler’s Jimmy: the biography of a brother (1937).

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