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Then and Now: Evacuees at Univ

In this first of a new series of features showcasing images from Univ’s history contrasted to their modern photographic equivalents, we uncover an unusual use for Radcliffe Quad…

Univ’s Radcliffe Quad, built between 1716 and 1719 with a legacy from Dr John Radcliffe (1650–1714), is today a tranquil space with its magnificent tree, glorious wisteria and pleasingly “off square” sides (it’s set on the same axis as our Main Quad, whilst both the High and Logic Lane curve at this point.)

But as our first photograph (above and slider below) shows, the instruction to “Please stay off the grass” has not always applied.

This remarkable photograph dates from September 1940, when Univ hosted evacuees from Ashford in Kent. For a while the College was filled with the unfamiliar sounds of mothers and their young children. These mothers had to have somewhere to hang their washing, and the lawns of Radcliffe Quad were the obvious place.

We do not know for certain when the families arrived, or for how long they stayed, but we do know that on 9 October 1940 a meeting of the College’s Governing Body reported that “the thanks of the College be tendered to the College servants for their fine services in assisting the evacuated families.”

Explore the two images below by clicking and dragging the slider.

1940 2022


Published: 22 June 2022

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