Garden Party 2019
The College organised a Garden Party on 21 September as part of events taking place this year to celebrate 40 years of achievement by women students, academics and staff. Over 250 people attended the event to which all members of College were invited.
The festivities included a drinks reception with afternoon tea, Pimms and a string quartet in the Fellows’ Garden, and an opportunity to view the exhibition “Women at Univ 1249-2019”. A string quartet featuring Sarah Chapman (2018, Chemistry) and Elsa Shah (2018, Music) played music by Mozart, Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn) and Haydn.
The exhibition was curated by Dr Laura Varnam, Lecturer in Old and Middle English Literature, Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, College Archivist and Elizabeth Adams, College Librarian. The exhibition featured material from the College archives, demonstrating various roles women have played at Univ from benefactors to donors, librarians to college staff, as family members, wives of Fellows and Masters, businesswomen and writers. The exhibition was also open last week during the Open Doors weekend.
This was followed by a panel discussion in Hall with Dr Catherine Holmes, A.D.M. Cox Old Members’ Tutorial Fellow in Medieval History, Dr Robin Darwall-Smith and Dr Laura Varnam, titled: “Celebrating and Recovering the Histories of Women at Univ”, with many interesting and thoughtful questions asked by Old Members present.
The day finished with an Alumni Day drinks reception hosted by the Master. Baroness Amos, who will become Master of Univ upon Sir Ivor Crewe’s retirement in August 2020, was also in attendance.
Event Report - Shauna Bevan
It was such a pleasure to be back at Univ on a warm and sunny September afternoon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the College’s admission of women, an event attended by more than 250 guests. We had already bumped into one of the first cohort of women to join the College in 1979 on the Park and Ride bus. She was with her husband whom she met at Univ, just as I did mine 13 years later. However unlike the sisters, mothers and aunts in the photo of the first VIII in the 1920s that features in the wonderful exhibition we were there to study for degrees in our own right not to support our menfolk, even if finding a lifelong mate proved to be a happy byproduct for many of us.
On arrival in the marquee in Fellows’ Garden the first person we encountered was our Classics tutor Professor Chris Pelling who was admirably fulfilling the vital role of the beloved and much missed George Cawkwell by providing a thread between Univ past and present.
Delicious scones, sandwiches and cakes kept us going whilst we caught up with friends, former tutors and the next generation of would be scholars including those in pushchairs as well as aspiring teenagers.
Later in Hall we were treated to three fascinating talks about how the exhibition came about and what we could learn from it with regard to the role of women at Univ, in particular and in society more broadly. Whilst not the first college to admit women Univ did have a pioneering role to play in accelerating the ballot that had been put in place for each college to go co-ed and the exhibition highlights the important role that women have played in the life of the College throughout its history not just in the past forty years.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and one which prompted more reflection and debate than usual and I, for one, left feeling both inspired and invigorated.
Shauna Bevan (1992, Classics)