Teddy Hall opens its doors for Access Hall Areas

15 May 2019

The Front Quad during Access Hall Areas
The decorated Front Quad during Access Hall Areas

The Hall opened its doors for the inaugural Access Hall Areas event over the first May bank holiday weekend, which saw us welcome over 1000 people into the College, to take part in a variety of activities and get a taste for what goes on in an Oxford College.

The Principal, Professor Kathy Willis, explains “Many people know Oxford and walk past the Colleges, but the Colleges can seem rather distant to most people as they don’t know what goes on behind the walls. So we decided that the thing we ought to be trying to do is to open up the Hall and let everyone else come in and see what we do. This is the first event that we’re holding so that people outside of the University, who live in the city and beyond, can come through the gates and start to get a glimpse of this fantastic place that we work in.” 

Postgraduate student Andrea Fortier performs a viola recital in the Crypt
Postgraduate student Andrea Fortier performs a viola recital in the Crypt

One of the most popular draws of the weekend was the opportunity to climb the Library tower as part of the College tour route, where visitors enjoyed views over the Queen’s Lane site from the windows of our Library Fellows’ office. For those more interested in exploring the subterranean areas of the College, tours of the Crypt beneath the Library were equally popular. Over the course of the weekend guests also enjoyed atmospheric acoustic performances in the Crypt from some of our talented musical students – Gregory Ball, Andrea Fortier and Raven Undersun.

Combined with performances on the bagpipes (Callum Beck, undergraduate), an organ recital (Viraj Alimchandani, undergradute), a harpsichord demonstration (Chris Bucknall, Director of Music), and the College choir who sang on both days of the event and welcomed visitors to join them for “Come and Sing!” sessions, the weekend showcased a great variety of musical skill at the College.

There was also a varied programme of ‘Teddy Talks’ across the weekend – accessible 15 minute talks given by our Academics and Postgraduate students on an aspect of their research. Topics ranged from Peace Processes and Political inclusion, to Fusion Reactors, to the History of the Hall. Thank you to all of our speakers who presented with great enthusiasm on their topics! If you missed any of the Teddy Talks, they will be available to watch on the St Edmund Hall YouTube channel soon.

Visitors of all ages enjoyed hands-on activities in the Old Dining Hall – from using a historic printing press to having a go at ‘Brain Games’ led by neuroscience students or learning about fossils. On Sunday we welcomed student volunteers from Oxford hands-on Science who ran a whole range of interactive experiments for children, from learning about how the digestive system works to creating mini explosions!

Guests also took in performances in the graveyard from Oxford University Pole Sports Society led by Teddy Hall postgraduate student Robin De Meyer, as well as a reprisal of the Annunciation & Visitation play which was originally performed as part of the Medieval Mystery Cycle  at the College.

Visitors explore the Old Library at Access Hall Areas
Visitors explore the exhibition in the Old Library

The Librarians, James and Sophie, opened up the Old Library so visitors could see a small exhibition featuring some of the recent creative writing produced in Teddy Hall alongside works by Aularians from 1680 to the present, some other literary works from the collections and some of the best and rarest books we possess. Items on display ranged from a fragment of 13th century manuscript, the beautiful illustrations of insects under a microscope in Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, a board game devised (and signed) by Lewis Carroll to a deluxe DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail complete with small, plastic farmyard animals.

We welcomed around 740 visitors into the newly refurbished Library during the weekend, possibly more people than have visited it in the last 340 years combined! Even for many Aularians it was a first chance to explore the Library and its treasures.

Thank you to everyone who was involved, particularly our student and staff volunteers who performed over the weekend, led College tours, welcomed visitors or were involved in any other capacity to make the event a success!

Photographs from the day can be found on the Hall’s Flickr site.

Watch Highlights

To watch other videos from the day, including the Teddy Talks click the link below.

Full Playlist

St Edmund Hall: Access Hall Areas

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