Category Archives: Marjon pride

8 quirky things about Marjon

The new academic year is just around the corner and I still can’t believe it will go on without me :-(.
For some it is the beginning of their relationship with Marjon. So for all those who are just joining: here is what makes Marjon- Marjon.
1. The mysterious machine.

mysteriousmachineFrom the depths of our storages comes this mysterious machine. For the longest time it was a part of our scientific equipment, until everyone forgot what it is and what it was
used for. This handmade apparatus was speculated to be some kind of distillation
device until finally proven by its documentation to be a device to
experiment upon the thermal conductivity of copper under different conditions


2. Chelsea site model

MarjonChelseamodelFor the longest time this was the face of Marjon. It doesn’t look it now, but Marjon
is old. This model of the old campus that was situated in the middle of Chelsea,
London is here to always remind us that while buildings and places change, our
spirit doesn’t.
3. The Marjon Cup
marjoncupMarjon was always very involved in sports and once upon a time it used to award its own trophy. Here it is- The Marjon Cup, a sizable reward for those who earned it. I’m not very sporty, but even I would be tempted:-)






4. Marjon International
malaysiapictureAs I wrote before– we have many international ties. People around the world come over to study for their diplomas. Sometimes they leave souvenirs and leave their mark on Marjon.



5. The timetables of doom

oldtimetableEvery student thinks that their schedule is busy. Well, I’m sure that past students would laugh that statement off. Here is a timetable from a hundred years ago. Every waking moment was framed within rigorous plan of study, work and prayer. I doubt that many people could stand that today.





6. Marjon the beautiful
marjoninsnowMarjon grounds are beautiful. With its lush and manicured Quad area, with the hidden grove and pond, and with its new apple orchard. But the prettiest Marjon sight it its chapel after the heavy snowfall. This is my favourite picture of it.


7. The war hospital

warhospitalEverybody and their little dog enjoy a good war story. Marjon has many stories of men that fought and died in both world wars. But that’s not all. The buildings have stories to tell too. For example: the old college building used to be a hospital during the WWI. If only the buildings could talk.





8. Macro- and micro- media

mediaMarjon was always good with its media. Here it is a small display what kind of things people was working with: Huge master tapes, ancient betamaxes, a little more modern VHS tapes and nearly recent DVD. Those tiny tapes laid in a pyramid are master tapes for VHS hand-held cameras, a technology many of the fresh students might be unfamiliar with.

And now, if you want to see all of the above, you can do so. There is a display put up in the reception area of the library. Look for two tall glass cases, one on the lef of the reception desk and one on the right of the exit.


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Malaysian Memories

Those who know Marjon a little bit better also know that we have well organized International Office. It is located on the second floor of the main block and the whole place is decorated with pictures, artwork and various colourful objects from many different cultures. I used to wonder where they all come from. Well now I know. A recent donation that came to the archives is all the souvenirs that Malaysian students brought as gifts.

For more than thirty years Marjon worked in partnership with more countries and Universities abroad than you can shake a stick at. Nowadays any course is open for foreign students, but also there are special programmes such as International Foundation Programme and Academic English Preparation Courses so you can imagine how many people came over here over the years. The gifts they left behind vary greatly. Some are simple souvenirs, others are more elaborate. There are pictures, scrolls and pennants. Some showed how little I know about Malaysia- the strange studded brass frame is actually a mirror with a little doors.

Some of those things must have been in the possession of the International office for years; some are recent as the newspaper that I found alongside the gifts. It is dated 2013 and titled ‘University’s farewell to Malaysians’. It shows that people still are coming to us from Malaysia to get their education. We live worlds apart, but for a short while we have lived and worked together. And here is the proof that we will always remember and treasure our friends from far away:



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The coat of arms

If you never saw the official coat of arms of Marjon university- look to the right of the page. Today we only use the shield portion, having retired the dreadful ‘nike’ logo that dominated both webpages and signs when I got accepted.

The official document granting the coat of arms to Marjon

The official document granting the coat of arms to Marjon


A close-up of the three heavy seals attached to the document

I had a rare opportunity to see the official document that gives coat of arms to Marjon. It is housed in a special wooden box that protects it from the damaging light. Marjon got his coat of arms when the two Colleges merged in 1926. They were especially designed to accentuate the equality between the two schools, which from now on would stand as one. The official description is pure ‘heraldese’ that only those who are adept in the heraldic arts can understand. For us, the lay-people, it is enough to understand that the swords came from the coat of arms of diocese of London and the red diamonds from the Southwark’s diocese. Why? Because the schools were located in those dioceses. You can clearly see the connection:

A close-up of the arms themselves

A close-up of the arms themselves

I’m sure I don’t have to say anything about the blazon (the upper part of the arms- I’ve just learnt that word, please don’t throw stones at me:-)). The Lon and the Lamb stand of course for the Evangelists- St John and St Mark.

What surprises me, is the attitude the modern world has towards the arms. They are mostly ignored, substituted by logos and trademarks, and generally considered old-fashioned. G Woods Wallaston, the man who designed Marjon’s coat of arms, says: ‘Arms are to an individual, a family, or a body corporate what flag is to a nation.’ Nobody would ever dare to think the Union Jack to be old-fashioned, why then can’t we treat the coat of arms with the same deal of respect? They should be the source of pride and admiration, a sign of high standards and respectability. Yet some universities (I’m not pointing fingers, but you know who you are- Stars and Scallops:-)) prefer to hide their arms, restricting their use to the graduation ceremonies. But I ask you this: what good is to have your arms covered? The arms were originally invented for easy recognition and not for keeping under a lock and key. So I say: let our colours fly!

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Marjon and fiction

Don’t you just love when you read a book and something familiar jumps out of a page. It can be a name, a place, a familiar setting. You think:’ Hey! I know this guy/ this place!’ The fiction changes; it crosses the border between real and unreal. It crosses into your reality and you can’t help but smile.
There are couple of books that reference Marjon in one way or another. The archive keeps them, their pages with Marjon references lovingly bookmarked. Let me introduce you to some of them.

In the book ‘Mmurderurder Being Once Done’ Ruth Rendell writes: ‘They were at school together and Verity went to train as a teacher at St Mark and St John…Its quite near where you’re staying, in King’s Road’. At the time she wrote this, the College was still at Chelsea. I wonder, did Ruth walked past it once upon a time and thought: ‘This looks like an interesting place, let’s put it in the book for some authenticity.’ That’s what I’d do.

Ohigh hopesther references might not be so clear. One of our former students, Billy Hopkins became quite a successful author. He wrote many semi-biographical books and in one of them, the protagonist goes off to London to train as a teacher. What else could he based this premise, but on his own experiences at Marjon? This book is kind of an exception as we don’t have it in the archives. That’s something I plan to change. As soon as I’m done with it, that is:-)

the-last-pleasure-garden-lee-jackson-123x200 If you never heard of Cremorne Gardens, then let’s say it was a pleasure garden in Chelsea. In the 17th century it was famous for its quite large population of ‘ladies of negotiable affection’ as would Terry Pratchett say. The principal of St Mark back then, John G. Cromwell, was involved in a campaign to close the gardens for the security’s sake. What did he get for his good intentions? He became one of the characters in the book ‘The Last Pleasure Garden’ by Lee Jackson…too bad it’s a serial killer. That proves once for all that no good deed goes unpunished:-)
There is many more examples like these, but if I was to list them all we’d all go grey before then. I might return to the subject though and maybe one day I will be able to put Marjon on the pages of a book too.
Hopkins, B. (2001) High Hopes. London: Headline Publishing Group.

Jackson, L. (unknown) Victorian London – Entertainment and Recreation – Gardens and Spas – Cremorne Gardens. [Online] Available from: [accessed 12 May 2014]

Jackson, L. (2007) The Last Pleasure Garden. London: Arrow Books.

Rendell, R. (1972) Murder Being Once Done. London: Arrow Books.

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Beyond genius loci

I have always felt comfortable around the campus. I’d say the place has a very positive feel about it. It feels youthful and full of energy, but not frantic overly busy. But there is something else beyond the spirit of the place; it’s the attitude of the people around here. Here is a prime example of what I’m talking about:

26This is the picture taken soon after the colleges of St Mark’s and St John merged. Those boys are the first mixed soccer team. The two colleges used to have teams that fought against each on the sport’s battlefield, each defending their goal posts to the last man. And now they are standing together, without proper kit’s, each wearing a different jersey, but determined to be the best team for their newly merged school.

46And on this one, forty years has gone by and here they meet again, not one of them missing. I find it amusing how the fashion made them uniformly clothed while the school could not. Also note the war memorial on the wall behind them, like a shadow of those who can never return to visit their old school.

group photoAnd finally here are we- the archive’s volunteers. We are team of people equipped with different ideas and skills, with different projects and reasons , but we all sacrifice our time and effort for the archives.
I guess that the whole Marjon is like that: a rag-tag bunch, not always perfectly organized, with mismatched equipment and chairs that wouldn’t slide underneath the tables. But would we ever let that down? Never!:-)

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