Wood’s diary – excerpts

1856. June 4th. Wednesday. Commemoration Day

Fireworks in Oxford

I set off at ½ past 7 and walked in to Oxford by the towpath, a most beautiful day, not a creature by the river side. The swallows dipping into the water and breeze rippling the surface almost the only signs of life. Oxford in all the stir of anxious preparation. Met Wilson and gave him my ticket. Had some breakfast in Bowyer’s bedroom, he expecting a visitation of ladies. Went with him to the [Sheldonian] theatre, got in easily, but soon a tremendous crush, never felt anything like it. Prince Albert, the Princes of Prussia and Baden were there, with Lord Derby. The two latter Princes had degrees given them, also Colin Campbell, Williams (absent) Sir E. Lyons, Lord Clarendon etc. Not much wit from the gallery and the men behaved very badly to poor Claughton, who spoke the oration.

Gibbings and West dined with me in Hall at 1½, a capital cold collation. The President gave the toast of “the ladies” received rapturously, afterwards sat in the garden and watched the lions [guests]. Walked to the Museum. Archit.-Soc. (Gibbings taken in by my practical joke). Tea in Richards rooms. Akers joined us. At 9 sallied forth to see the illuminations. Walked all round the town. A magnificent sight, like some scene in the Arabian Nights. The end of Magdalen very pretty. Passed through a shower of squibs up High Street at 10½. Christ Church being regularly bombarded. Walked out to reach Radley at 12.
William Wood’s Diary 1855-1861, ed. by Mark Spurrell, is available from Oxfordshire Record Society. These excerpts are presented to give a flavour of life at Radley in the 1850s

William Wood, DD, Sub-Warden 1855-66 & Warden 1866-70 of Radley College

William Wood, DD, Sub-Warden 1855-66 & Warden 1866-70 of Radley College