On May 5th Brasenose College took part in a number of traditional festivities. The Beating of the Bounds ceremony passed through Brasenose during the morning. The custom, observed in a few areas across England and Wales has probably been in existence for over a 1000 years, and originated in the need for church officials to walk around the boundaries of their parish. The boundaries of the parishes of the churches of St. Michael at the Northgate and St. Mary the Virgin (also known as the ‘University Church') pass through Brasenose College, and once a year groups from both churches, plus a throng of curious students and other wellwishers, visit and mark the boundary stones located on certain walls of college buildings by marking them with the year in chalk and beating them with willow sticks. This is certainly an unusual sight and not an everyday occurance at the College!
Secondly, around lunch time, Brasenose College members are invited to enter Lincoln College (just next door) via a tiny connecting door between the two colleges, which leads from Brasenose's Old Quad directly into the Lincoln College kitchens and through to one of the open-air quads. Intriguingly, the door is only opened for ten minutes and it is the only time during the year that this door is unlocked, which adds a sense of mystery and discovery to this strange event. Brasenose members are served an (optional) small glass of ale in Lincoln College (as pictured), which is traditionally flavoured with ground ivy, handpicked by the Lincoln College staff in local woods, to discourage Brasenose members from taking liberties with the kind hospitality by requesting more than one drink! Opinions on the origin of this tradition vary, but the two most popular explanations are that, centuries ago, either a Brasenose member was pursued by a mob from the town and murdered because Lincoln students refused to open their gates to him, or that a Lincoln member killed a Brasenose man in a duel. Either way, Lincoln College's penitence is gratefully received by Brasenose students and staff. As usual, the festivities were well attended this year, not least due to the fantastically sunny weather.
The picture includes Theo Cox (first Year PPE), Ella Williams and Phoebe Bradley (first year English), Emily Hobbs (first year Classics and French), Natasha McCabe (first year French and Italian) and Rufus Rock (first year Fine Art). Brasenose science students were also present but were clearly feeling camera shy!
Coincidentally, another of Brasenose's traditions that involves (optional) ale drinking was alluded to in a recent episode of the Hairy Bikers, whose series Pubs that Built Britain included a quick visit to Brasenose College (from 12 mins 15 seconds in). Staff members Alan Bennett and Georgina Edwards show one of the Hairy Bikers how the concoction for our Ale Verses tradition is made.
Although we have a small number of optional traditions and a long and fasinating history, Brasenose College is actually a modern, progressive institution with a vibrant and diverse undergraduate community. Read more about life at Brasenose College