Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
On Saturday I gave a tour of the heraldry in Trinity College Oxford to some members of the White Lion Society. This was very agreeable, and we had some lively discussion about the interesting heraldry in the hall.
This however was as nothing to that which erupted over the arms of Balliol College, which adjoins the grounds of Trinity. The arms of Balliol are those of the founders John and Devorgilla de Balliol, the parents of the future King John I of Scots. Significantly Devorgilla, as heiress of Galloway, has precedence over her husband's arms, gules and orle argent.
Arising from the way the arms were depicted in stone and on the college flag which fluttered overhead there was an amicable, but nonetheless heated, discussion amongst some of the members as to when is an orle not an orle, and when does it become a tressure... at one point I thought I ought to suggest sending in an heraldic peace-keeping force.
If you have views on the status of an orle, please feel free to comment, but I will not commit to adjudicating.