A small display in Balliol’s Historic Collections Centre at St Cross Church, Holywell, for the Friends of Reading Abbey, 8 July 2015
scan of seal dorse presented with reading copy of deed and transcript adapted slightly from Salter
display case with original deed and supporting facsimiles and transcript
original deed was flattened long ago – conservators probably wouldn’t do this now, but it does make it easier to display
with much-magnified scan print of seal face – beautiful and in pretty good shape
recto of document, face of seal
detailed scan of seal face
verso of document, with endorsements, and seal
black and white contrast-tweaked crop of the document for easier reading of the text
Oxford, Balliol College Archives D6.21 Gifts by the abbot of Reading towards the building of the chapel of St Katherine.
1 January 1327/8. [Salter Oxford Deeds of Balliol College 584, adapted slightly]
1 Nouerint uniuersi per presentes quod dominus Nicholaus de Quappelade dei gracia Abbas Radyng’ liberauit sco
2 laribus domus de Balliolo in Oxonia viginti libras sterlingorum pro anima Ade le Poleter burgensis Radyng’
3 ad fabricam capelle sancte Katerine eiusdem domus. Item dedit predictus Abbas prefatis scolaribus decem marcas
4 argenti ad fabricam capelle predicte quas ab eodem Abbate per duo scripta obligatoria prius ex mutuo receperunt.
5 Dedit eciam predictus Abbas prefatis scolaribus unam fenestram vitream precii decem librarum & amplius
6 pro capella supradicta. Summa tocius xxxvj libras xiij s. iiij d. Item dedit eis meremium, lathes, & alia minuta
7 cum cariageo eorundem, que hic in specie non numerantur. In cuius rei testimonium tam predictus Abbas quam predicti
8 scolares presenti intenture alternatim sigilla sua apposuerunt. Hijs testibus magistro Thoma Othom tunc
9 Cancellario Uniuersitatis Oxon’, magistro Nicholao de Luceby tunc custode predicte domus, magistro Nicholao de
10 Tyngewyk’ & custode sigilli communis predictorum scholarium & multis alijs. Et remanebit una pars huius
11 indenture penes predictos scolares & alia pars penes custodem altaris capelle beate Marie virginis infra
12 Abbathiam Radyng’. Dat’ apud Radyng’ die veneris in festo Circumcisionis domini Anno domini millesimo
13 Tricentesimo vicesimo septimo.
Red seal 2.5 in x 1.75 in, bishop [?abbot] in mitre and chasuble, with book and pastoral staff. Legend: S’ NICHI’ DEI GRA… [?EPISCOPI] …ILCE.SIS.
A number of other documents from early in the college’s history were also on display, and visitors were interested in the history of the building and the other print and manuscript special collections kept as St Cross as well as the college’s administrative records. Our student intern explained his summer research project, working on another part of the college archives: the library’s 17th century book borrowing registers. Stay tuned here for some of his findings later in the summer…
Part of this exhibition was originally a Document of the Week in Michaelmas Term 2005. It features two letters from Dr Ernest Walker to Cedric Glover, written from Oxford in August 1916 and demonstrating something of the strange contrasts of Oxford life during wartime.
August 11, 1916
My Dear Cedric,
Very glad indeed to have news of you: I was wondering whereabouts you were. Where is Ronald? [?Knox] Greetings to him, and also best remembrances to your father and mother, please!
Balliol is a queer place nowadays: I don’t suppose we shall have 20 people up next term. We went on with the regular concerts (fortnightly) up till the end of the summer term 1915, doing our Strauss and Reger and Kreisler and our songs in German as usual up to the end: but we then suspended operations, inevitably. For the last year we have been having “by and fors” (in the wide sense of the word, including any military birds of passage that could do things – some of them quite good), with the same quality of music as usual, but no printed programmes [p.2] of any kind and no audience except masculines. We got a quite fair lot of people always: though I don’t mean to say that some of them mayn’t have found it slightly strong meat when an old Magdalen man, quartered in Oxford, gave them a dozen or so of the biggest Hugo Wolf songs on end, or when I played Reger after the news of his death reached here. I daresay we may be able to go on with something of the same kind next term – there has been a steady flow of officer-cadets into Oxford, hundreds of them. But I really haven’t a notion about the future, in any way at all. The OUMC and the OUMO have formally [p.3] amalgamated (with the Holywell Room): I expect the MO would certainly have been bankrupt in isolation, and the MC would have been in a queer way: as it is, the joint society is financially very shaky indeed for the time being, but I dare say we shall keep it going more or less. The Ladies Society goes ahead as usual, except there they refuse to engage Herschel or the Aranyis or apparently anyone whose great-great-great-grandparents were Germans. Miss Marga Deneke is on the concert committee, and has had a good many of her plans squashed in absurd fashion. It’s a queer world, and during the last two years, some individuals in it have [p.4] turned out even queerer than one could have expected.
You seem to have been managing to get a lot of music added to your collection, anyhow. Don’t know of any translations of Pohl or Thayer, myself. Can’t stand the Debussy ‘cello sonata, except for very little bits of it: the man seems to have written himself out. Grovlez sent me his last piano things, and I was very much disappointed with them – just the ordinary fashionable Parisianism, I thought: nor do I care for his violin sonata, which I ran through with Miss Gates (I think) not long ago. Don’t know the last Scriabin, nor the Tcherepnine quartet: but I came across some very fine songs of T. lately. Well, I suppose some day or other we may get music normally again!
I heard from Oboussier the other day: he asked after all his friends and I gave him what news I could.
I should be delighted to hear from you again! All best from
Yours [ver]y sincerely,
[top of p.1] (In Merionethshire for the moment, but back in Oxford next week.)
[Editor’s note: Thanks to Kamile Vaupsaite for deciphering the names of Thayer and Grovlez!]
22 August 1916
28, St Margaret’s Road, Oxford
My Dear Cedric,
Many thanks for your note; I am quite reassured. The matter had various ramifications into which I needn’t go: as you no doubt understand that in this very queer world it is important that the whole of the Ladies’ Club’s various oddities should be kept altogether dark, for the sake of the Arányis (who don’t know anything of them), and Miss Deneke and everybody else!
I quite forgot, by-the-bye, when sending on the message to his friends from Oboussier, the Swiss fiddler who was at Worcester for the year before the war, that a relative veteran of 1913 like you might never have met him! I lose count of dates so easily as a permanent limpet here.
I must look up Mr. Jarnach. When this whole bad dream is over and we have more music together, I must show you some things of a wild young Anglo-French creature, a Home Student at Cherwell Edge, who is working with me. She is liable to come the most ultra-modernist croppers any minute, and I doubt if her songs can be sung in tune: but she produced a few weeks ago a [B flat?] Prelude that seems to be really beautiful in its way, and quite unlike anything I know.
I am at present engaged in some music for a children’s play by Mrs. Balfour (Harold Joachim’s sister). It is all about vegetables, and one has to represent musically the essential characteristics of carrots and cabbages and so on: I am rather pleased with a very first-impressionistic but quite unmistakable Cauliflower that I have just evolved: it starts – [MS music]
All very best wishes, and looking forward to any amount more of music together!
Yours very sincerely,
Ernest Walker (1870-1949) , musicologist, composer, organist and Hon Fellow of Balliol
The Balliol Music Society’s 1745th Sunday Concert on Oct 16 2005 (Sunday 2nd week) was the annual Ernest Walker Concert, commemorating Dr Walker’s contribution to College life, and in particular College music, during his long career at Balliol 1887-1925.
Ernest Walker came up to Balliol in 1887 to study Litterae Humaniores (Classics) under WR Hardie and RL Nettleship. He received his BA in 1891, became assistant organist to John Farmer at Balliol and earned a BMus (1893) and DMus (1898). He became organist and director of music at Balliol upon Farmer’s retirement in 1901; although he gave up the post of organist in 1913 on religious grounds, he retained the directorship until his retirement in 1925. Under his direction, the Sunday Concerts developed to a very high standard.
In addition to his involvement in College music, he was instrumental in the University’s musical life as a busy teacher and examiner; he held the posts of Choragus of the University 1918-1922 and Lecturer for the University Professor of Music from 1899.
Dr Walker was well-known in the musical world beyond Oxford as a prolific and insightful critic, reviewer and musicologist. His voluminous correspondence portrays a thoughtful and self-effacing character possessed of a whimsical sense of humour and a great deal of affection and regard for his many friends and colleagues – not to mention decided musical opinions!
Ladies’ Club: the Oxford Ladies’ Musical Society, founded in 1898 because the university musical society did not admit women, and still in existence – though now co-ed – as the Oxford Chamber Music Society. Papers of the OLMS are in the Bodleian.
- Balliol College, MSS Ernest Walker and accrual Accn 05/139, letters to Cedric Glover
- Bodleian Library, music MSS
- Bailey, C. ‘ Walker, Ernest (1870-1949)’, rev. Jeremy Dibble, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36688, accessed 26 Sept 2005]
- Balliol College Register (1933, 1950)
- Deneke, M. Ernest Walker (1951)
- Hull , R. ‘Ernest Walker’, Music Review, 10 (1949), 205–6
It’s that time of year – here’s one for the series ‘What can college librarians possibly find to do all summer while the students are away?’ Well, the Library staff are currently carrying out a Grand Shelf Check of all the early printed books – it’s especially important that we know, and record, where everything is because some of the EPBS were moved to St Cross in 2011-13 and some are still in Broad Street. And as always happens with thorough checks like this, all sorts of interesting things are turning up! Some of them include significant proportions of manuscript material – more about this as they emerge. From yesterday:
the cover is in fact a cut-down and reused administrative document. This is not unusual – palimpsests (erased texts that have been written over) get the press these days, but old parchments were often reused in humbler ways, as pastedowns, fly/guard/endleaves, linings, fastenings, page markers and indeed as in this case, covers. Here we can see the title page and the inside of the front cover – the document is upside down.
Oh – the contents of the printed book? Prattica cioe inventione di Conteggiare, published in Brescia by Ludovico Britannico.
Now we know we’re in Italy, back to the cover!
Part of the document is conveniently shaped to form a fore-edge flap for the book. It’s now very stiff, and has been folded inside the back cover for so long it doesn’t function as a flap anymore.
Here is what we can see of the document – upper left of what remains of the text, now the upside down lower part of the inside back cover of the book.
Lower left of the document: the notarial sign and colophon – see Medieval Writing’s useful explanation.
Back to the front of the book for the right hand side of the document…
the upper right
and the lower right.
I don’t have time to familiarise myself with Italian legal documentary formulae, and I don’t know what kind of transaction this document records, or quite how much of it is missing (clearly we have the bottom but not quite the beginning), but I hope somebody who’s practising Italian palaeography and diplomatic may find it interesting! Do drop us a line if so…
Q: Your response to my enquiry is not what I hoped for. Please check the records again and give me a different answer.
A: Readers may be astonished to learn that I regularly receive this professional insult, generally in response to a negative result of a search for an individual possible member of Balliol. As all researchers know, to be certain of a negative result normally requires considerably more research than to confirm a positive, which may only need checking one source. In order to be sure that no record of an individual exists, one has to check several series of potentially relevant records. I will then do my best to provide possible explanations for the lack of evidence, and to suggest further avenues of enquiry.
Enquirers are kindly requested not to ask me to research an enquiry again unless additional relevant substantive information is provided which was not included in the original question.
If I am not overly forthcoming in my explanations, it may be because I know that enquirers do not wish to hear, unless they are true researchers as well as family historians, that the information they have has probably been fabricated, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, in knowledge or in ignorance, by misleading, misinterpretation or misunderstanding. In the majority of cases it happens through garbling of family narrative down the generations rather than deliberate deceit, but the latter is not unknown either.
If I am asked to reply to the same enquiry again, I may do so, pulling the enquiry to bits and pointing out the full range of inconsistencies and impossibilities inherent in it. I will also be frank about any evidence of deliberate fabrications; they do exist. This is constructive for the researcher, but not always pleasant.
I often feel that I am a professional exploder of family myths, but I take some little consolation in the knowledge that if my well informed, carefully researched and considered responses to enquiries are not quite the ones the enquirers expect, they will simply be dismissed, and the myths remain intact.
Q: The manuscript scans on flickr are very exciting! Are there plans for a full systematic digitization? And do you take requests?
A: Thank you! Most of the medieval manuscript books have been microfilmed over the years and I’m looking into digitisation of the microfilms in the first instance, as less invasive for the MSS. Whether we go ahead with that depends on cost and quality of the end product – I’m not convinced scratchy b/w films are worth it, but on the other hand most of our MSS are unornamented, so little information is lost in black and white.
Obviously digital images would be better (colour for one thing) and images like those on Early Images at Oxford for all the MSS would be the ideal, but there isn’t budget or time for that, so the digitisation I do so far is in reaction to specific scholarly requests (hence often partial) rather than systematic. It also depends on the physical state of the manuscript – we’re part of the Colleges Conservation Consortium but of course it’s a long process.
As far as digitising the archives is concerned, again it’s reactive rather than systematic and is subject to preservation considerations. After about 1550 many of the documents are bigger than A3, sometimes A2 or even bigger; they’ve always been stored folded down to A4 or smaller, and there’s just no way I can scan those. But the little medieval deeds, though several hundred years older, are generally easily scannable. It’s a question of time and priorities – eventually they would make an excellent basis for an online palaeography learning resource, as well as for the information they contain.
College rowing is a minefield – or treasure trove – of arcane jargon. Here’s an explanation of one term: scratch boats (can be eights, fours or pairs):
A scratch eight was a boat made up of some college rowers and some non-rowers for a college regatta – that is, a single-college regatta, boats all made up only of Balliol men racing against each other. Judging from 19th and early 20th century Boat Club training records, scratch boats had a couple of training outings before the regatta, if that. There are no longer single-college regattas, but the name survives in the Christ Church Regatta, which is held in December for novice boats from all colleges, and the scratch boat tradition survives in what are now called beer boats, rugger boats or gentlemen’s boats at Summer Eights – that is, groups who get together with little or no training, to compete in the lower divisions of the intercollege competition, for fun.
Occasionally I am asked about pewter commemorative tankards, inscribed with the title of an event – ‘ Balliol College Scratch Fours 1902,’ for instance. These are indeed commemorative tankards and not trophies, not an award but a souvenir of the event, and probably each of the members of the boat had an identical one.
One illustrative example from the records: from the 1889 journal I gather that the Balliol College Regatta was quite large, and happened in early June, a few weeks after Summer Eights. It involved only Balliol men; the event in 1889 started with four heats of three coxed fours, followed by five scratch eights in two heats and 10 pairs in 3 heats.
composition of one of the 5 Eights:
Bow J.A. JOHNSTON (Balliol 1885, College 2nd Torpid)
2 D.J (not I). YOUNG (Balliol 1885, no College rowing)
3 H.J. O’BEIRNE (Balliol 1884, coxed College 2nd Torpid)
4 W.B. BROWN (Balliol 1883, no College rowing)
5 H.L. HERVEY (Balliol 1884, no College rowing)
6 D.W. MONTGOMERY (Balliol 1885, College 2nd Torpid)
7 F.W. GALPIN (Balliol 1884, College Torpid, Eight and OU Trials)
Stroke F.J. WYLIE (Balliol 1884, College Torpid & Eight)
Cox L. HARRIS (not Balliol)
Stroke pair were experienced rowers (they set the pace and rhythm for the whole boat, so must be the strongest and most skilled); Bow, 3 and 6 had done a little rowing but were only in their first year (Torpids boats trained very little before the March races in those days, and O’Beirne didn’t row but coxed) and 2, 4 and 5 had done no other rowing. Cox was borrowed from another college – with inexperienced rowers in the boats and several boats on the river, it was probably wise to have experienced coxes in all the boats! Scratch boats for 1889 are similarly balanced. Unfortunately, we have no photographs of the college regatta for any year.
Balliol College ran Short Leave Courses for thousands of mostly American and Canadian servicemen and women between August 1943 and October 1945. The Courses each ran for a week, comprising lectures on aspects of English life and culture, discussion and social events. They were intended to be a break from military life – interesting and intellectually stimulating, but relaxed. Course members lived in college and had the use of the college library. As administrative aspects of the Courses had nothing to do with Balliol itself, there are no systematic records of the Courses or their participants in the Archives. Course participants were not registered with the College or the University.