With this year’s graduation ceremonies approaching, I thought to take a stroll down the memory lane to look at the graduations in the past. I went looking into the graduation ceremony in 1984. Back then there was only one ceremony and the names of all graduants could fit in three pages of A6 paper with only a handful of diploma titles. We surely come a long way since then, especially when I look at the list of diplomas that needs six ceremonies to give them all.
For the longest time we didn’t have the right to grant diplomas on our own. Before Marjon moved to Plymouth, our diplomas were accredited by the University of London. After the move it was the University of Exeter. That’s why sometimes people are mentioned to be students of one of those, instead of Marjon. Including Andrew Salkey, who I wrote about in my Black History Month post.
I had a look at our honorary graduates. We have some impressive figures among them: nobility, actors, authors, bishops, sport persons, foreign politicians and what interested me the most, the first British astronaut.
I looked at pictures taken on the graduation day in 1999. All those people who were once where I am now and where I will be next year. I wonder what are they doing now, are they successful and do they miss Marjon?
All pictures with grateful thanks to Tony Carney, Acme Photographic Agency:
Does this hat make my head look big?:-)
Alright! We made it!
Smiles and relief- that’s what graduation is all about
A short update on Tenison Chair- The archives have received a letter from the Antique Chairs & Museum concerning the chair. ‘It’s obviously a chair with history and worth restoring’ they said. No signs of Hitch yet, but I keep my fingers crossed. Of course, our venerable artefact will also have a role in the graduation ceremony.
To all who are about to receive their diplomas this year- break a leg!:-)
With the JAM department opening earlier this year, I thought that I could look into the past to see how the HDC building came to be. Here are some facts I would like to share and some pictures from the time of the construction.
- HDS building is the latest permanent construction added to Marjon’s campus.
- It was dubbed ‘Marjon’s Miracle Building’.
- It was added to cope with the rise in the students’ numbers.
- It was the most ambitious project undertaken since the move to Plymouth in 1973.
- The building was named for Henry Durowse, who was a chairman for 11 years.
- Works were completed despite many problems: a continuous rain for 120 days and the need to change the construction company.
- The official opening date was 14 of December 2001.
- During the opening ceremony a cake was served that was shaped like the building itself. Yum!
The ground had been broken for ‘Marjon’s miracle building’
Can you guess which room you are looking at?
A gorgeous sunset over the Chaplaincy Centre and future HDC
The ‘backbone’ of the building near its completion.
The laying of the characteristic brown brick
Having the new JAM department open, with its modern look and new shiny Mac’s, I just wish that we could finally have some proper chairs and tables in the rest of the building instead of those horrible combo furniture:-)
Marjon’s archive photos
The Magazine of the College of St. Mark and St. John 2002
Among the objects and documents gathered in our archives there is one piece that stands out- an exceptionally beautiful chair. It is made of black wood, with purple, leather upholstery (not original one unfortunately) , almost throne-like in appearance. It is exquisitely carved and very old. It’s been around for over a hundred years. There is a mystery attached to it: the uncertain origin of its make.
The Tenison Chair
You see, the chair was gifted to the principal of St. John’s by Arthur Heron Ryan Tenison and the carvings on the back states that it was in 1905. Tenison was an architect commissioned to design a carved screen for the chapel of St. John’s College in years 1900-1914. Tenison was not a sculptor so all the sculpting was done by a man of substantial renown: Nathaniel Hitch. Hitch is known for his sacral art. His works are spread around the globe: in Truro, Oxford, Washington, Calcutta, Sydney and more. Tenison and Hitch had a ‘professional patronage’ relationship and often cooperated.
So, was the chair made by Nathaniel Hitch? There are certainly reasons to believe so. There are plans to approach the Guild of Master Craftsmen and the Guild of Woodcarvers for help in establishing its origins.
St. John’s College’s crest at the top of the chair
The chair was for many years housed in the Drama department, where it was used as a prop. There are plans to bring the chair back to ‘active duty’ and use it for the official ceremonies. It already was used during university title inauguration. If only it wasn’t so fragile! Its back was damaged by the years of improper handling and the conditions under it was stored dried the wood and made it brittle. Still, it is a thing of beauty and prestige. Its surface unscratched and the leather upholstery unblemished. It is a true silent witness to our past.
Hey everybody, it’s Black History Month! In this day and age it’s more and more difficult to talk about race. We are afraid to raise the subject fearing that we might give offense by accident. Yet talk we must, otherwise we risk falling into old patterns and making the same mistakes as the generations past.
We have a display for the occasion. It consists of two parts. There are cases with the information, pictures and other memorabilia of important black students and teachers from Marjon’s history. Those are located near the entrance to the library and were prepared by Jo Irwin-Tazzer of the library staff. The other part consists of an information board on the wall near the right-side staircase. This one was prepared by Linda Tout of Marjons Disability and Inclusion.
At the displays you can see and learn about people who lived and thrived even though their era refused to treat them seriously. Go check them out, you’d be glad you did.
Henry Rawlinson Carr posing for a group photo
Have you ever heard about Henry Rawlinson Carr? He was a student of St. Marks’ in the 19th century and came from Lagos. He went to become the first black inspector of schools. It was in the days when people like him were still bought and sold like livestock.
There was a man Williams Robinson Tucker that came to St. John from Bermuda. He is probably the first black man recorded as a trainee teacher. It was in 1846, just 13 years after the abolition of slavery.
People who have interest in African studies know Andrew Salkey, a famous poet, writer, activist and filmmaker. However, not many people know that he was once a student of St Marks and St Johns in the fifties.
I know it is really hard to pay attention while you’re carrying a tower of books, but if you have a ten minutes free, go and see the display.
I wanted to talk about technical side of our display capabilities, but I realized it is a subject worth a separate article.
Today I bring you another dose of the volunteers’ profile because of the timetable chaos that inevitably rose from the beginning of the academic year.
Another person that sacrifices his time for the good of the archives is David. David moved to Plymouth 20 years ago and fell in love with the rich history of the region. His inspiration was the very old wall that was left from the Stonehouse fortifications. This contact with a real part of history made motivated him to volunteer his services at Plymouth Volunteer Centre. Through them he found Marjon archives and stayed, since that suited his historical interests best.
David is our veteran volunteer, since he participated in the project titled ‘One man’s life- the search for John Coulson Babbage’. It is still displayed on the wall outside of the archives.
This brings me to his current project, which I find extremely important. He is the driving force behind the digitization of our archives. ‘If anything happens to that room’ he pointed towards our very cramped archives ’a fire or something, we could lose it all.’ In this I strongly agree with him. We are slowly approaching a two hundred years’ worth of accumulated history, yet we are very behind in our care for it. We need it preserved and easily accessible, not only for the history buffs, but also for everybody who would research it for some reason or another. With his background in IT and 3D modelling, David is more than qualified for this very serious project. I hope it can get off ground very soon because you know what they say: ‘tide and time wait for no man’ and the longer we wait, the more work is to be done.