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My Univ: Guy Smith

In my first year I was lucky enough to have a class held in the Winter Common Room, a place within Univ that I hadn’t even heard of. After the porters showed me where it was, I quickly realised that this was a room I should have known about. It’s a space in which you can really feel the history of the college. The dark wooden panels that surround you are almost suffocating. In a sense it captures the duality of life in Oxford. There is constant pressure, a feeling that the past is something that you have to prove yourself to. But it also captures the beauty of such a task, and what a privilege it can be to perform.

Robert Dudley Univ Oxford

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532–88) – Artist: attr. Sir William Segar

The windows look on to Main Quad as if it were beacon of light in this dark, intense room. One wall is adorned with a portrait of Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a close advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, who upon his death donated land to Univ to fund scholarships. Even more interesting was that Percy Shelley entered Univ on this very scholarship.

The Winter Common Room forces you to truly feel the place that you hold in Univ’s continuity. The energy of the room is almost haunted, and the space is not used for much, at least from an undergraduate perspective. Perhaps it is Univ’s best kept secret for a reason.

Guy Smith (2019, History and Politics)

Published: 14 April 2021

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