2 December 2020

What's in a Name? (1)

If you stand by the traffic lights at the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road and look East, you will see, on your left, the Radcliffe Science Library. It is built in the style that rampaged throgh Oxford in the 1930s: squared rubble in small blocks with ashlar dressings. It is sometimes called Cotswold-Manorial, because of its claimed similarities with the vernaculat architectural styles of the Cotswolds, a mountain range a few miles West of the Railway Station.

But now it has stopped being the Radcliffe Science Library. With a touch of Circe's wand, it has become the centre of Reuben College ... a new 'Graduate College' designed to collect money off wealthy New Englanders whose daughters want to spend a few years in Oxford. I know no more about the Reuben Brothers than you can discover yourself from Wikipaedia. 

The proposed new 'college' had the 'holding name' Parks College. It is presumed that the Reuben Brothers have made a financial contribution.

Immediately opposite is the Rhodes Building, built in exactly the same Thirties architectural style ... except that, like so very many Cotswold Manor Houses and barns, it has a classicising portico and dome.

Cecil Rhodes, now fashionably an object of scornful detestation, gave a lot of money to endow his Rhodes Scholars, young men from America, Germany, and several parts of the Empire. In our undergraduate days, you could always recognise them from their uniform of three-piece tweed suit, neatly rolled umbrella, and copy of The Times newspaper.

I wonder how much longer the Rhodes building can cling on to the name of Rhodes. Quite possibly, even as I write, it has already lost it.

I wonder how long Reuben College will bear that name, before the dim and woke youth bully their wet and timorous elders into suppressing all memory of the 'Founders'.  

To be finished tomorrow.


PM said...

Would Walter de Merton's being a bishop be enough to have him cancelled, one wonders?

Mind you, he was a bishop who knew how to make friends with the mammon of iniquity, as was William of Wykeham on a grander scale. He acquired the manors of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt for his college by exploiting the predicament of the existing Lord who was on the losing side at the battle of Evesham and had to conduct a fire sale of his assets to pay the massive fine which he was offered in lieu of the death penalty. Merton sealed the transaction with a letter addressing the unwilling vendor as 'my dear friend'.

Scribe said...

Dear Father, These attacks on Cecil Rhodes are very disturbing. How long will it be before there is a clamour to change the name of Rhodesia?

Voice from the roof top said...

Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980.

Scribe said...

Dear Voice from the rooftop. Really? Thank you for telling me that.