Principal's Blog: Mid June 2019


blogBowerscrop1Kenneth Lonergan, First Frankland Visitor:
We were delighted to welcome Kenneth Lonergan as our First Frankland Visitor. Joyce Frankland was one of our early benefactresses from the 16th century so that it is appropriate that we have launched our Artist in Residence scheme with her name. Kenneth is probably one of the most interesting screen writers and directors currently operating at present. He has an extraordinary record of 91 nominations for awards with 55 wins including an Oscar (and counting).

We really worked Kenneth hard during the two days he visited us, plying him with questions about his work from all parts of the College. On 30 May just after he arrived, Kenneth spoke to a round table event organised by the JCR. Louise Navarro Cann and Sarah Berwick started the questioning as Arts Rep and President of the JCR respectively. Kenneth spoke about his films and plays especially Margaret (which was twice screened in the JCR earlier in the week) and Manchester by the Sea.

On 31 May, there were three events with Kenneth and many informal interactions in College. Kenneth first spoke to English students in the study of Dr Palfrey (one of our English Fellows) about his career and then we held a SCR lunch where Rebecca Abrams our RLF Writing Fellow led the questioning. At 4 45 I asked the questions at a fascinating Principal’s Conversation. I discussed his early life and whether he preferred film or theatre, and in particular his films Margaret and Manchester by the Sea and the play The Starry Messenger which opened in the West End of London last week. He answered all of the questions with grace and good humour. He spoke of working with Casey Affleck and his lack of interest in Oscar ceremonies. He explained why he cast his wife in Margaret and why he cast himself in most of his films.

It was wonderful also to welcome his step father Mike Prodder who stayed with us too. On Saturday we showed them round Oxford and were lucky enough to bump into the Dean of Christ Church who took us into the room where Alice in Wonderland was written and his private quarters.

This was the first Frankland Visitor and was unforgettable.

Brasenose Society Summer Party:
On 4 June we attended the Brasenose Society Summer Party in the magical setting of Charterhouse in Charterhouse Square. I have passed the building many times but have never been into it. It is so old that it makes Brasenose look positively modern by comparison! We had a brilliant guided tour by Stephen and Dudley Green two alumni who now live in Charterhouse. There were over one hundred people at the drinks party afterwards which Sir Paul Silk (President of the Society) and I addressed. I emphasised how much we regard alumni as part of our extended Brasenose Family.

The Boat Club breakfast:
On 29 May, I addressed the resplendent blazers at their pre-Eights breakfast in the Shackleton Room. I spoke of our successes on the River over the 19th century. The College for example rowed as head of the river on thirty consecutive nights in 1852-3 and in two of those years 1852 and 1853 held the headship simultaneously in both Eights and Torpids. Remarkably, five of these stars of the boats in these years became priests.

The Beating of the Bound:
On 30 May, Ascension Day, there was the Annual Beating of the Bounds around the College. I can hear joyful singing through the windows in the Lodgings as I write this. This long established custom demarcates parish boundaries by parishioners with sticks striking boundary stones with sticks and marking them with chalk. A building may not be constructed across parish boundaries and it was necessary to know who was in each parish for the purpose of the Poor Laws. The day commenced with Morning Prayer in Chapel at 8.10, then there was at 9 a procession from St Mary the Virgin which arrived in College at the High Street gate (which is not normally open) to mark the boundary of their parish with that of St Michael at the North Gate (boundary stones are next to Broadgates and staircase 4).

At noon, Andy Talbot, the Head Porter, opened the door to Lincoln College, allowing Brasenose folk to partake of  Lincoln’s penitential Ivy Beer al fresco. (see here). Coins are thrown from the top of the front Tower at Lincoln which are scooped up by school children. It is a really moving and evocative ceremony.

We congratulate Samuel Day who has been awarded the Weiskrantz Prize for the best overall performance by an Experimental Psychology student in the Part I Psychology examination.

Of course we do not take sides in the Tory Leadership Contest but we note that Mark Harper is a Brasenose alumnus.

On 31st May at 6pm we witnessed a wonderful concert by Gerard McChyrstal (alto saxophone & sopranino) in the Chapel. It included classical and contemporary works for Saxophone/Sopranino and Organ including A Brief History of Peter Abelard by James Whitburn who was in the audience. Gerald has performed in 35 countries including playing with our own excellent Director of Music, Christian Wilson.


Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for news from students and tutors, Schools Liaison and other interesting things