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Private Independent Day School for Boys 3 - 13 & Girls 3 - 7, Flexi-Boarding for Boys 8 - 13

Wine tasting at Christ Church - 17th May 2024

I had a wonderful evening last night, which I spent in the company of a number of you.

Our Christ Church evening this term was wine tasting in the McKenna Room, which some of you will know. It is a large and attractive room at the top of the Great Staircase, very close to the entrance to the Great Hall. On the walls, portraits of many College worthies from over the five centuries stare down and the large windows give glimpses of the Victorian grandeur of the ‘Meadows’ Building and the vast walls of the Great Hall. A huge fireplace takes up much of one wall. Here, we were given a wonderful talk on some excellent wines from the College cellar by its keeper, Shaqir. He gave us a fascinating and informative presentation, guiding us through the principles of wine tasting. There was a quiz and a blind tasting, during which we were able to use the knowledge we had gained throughout the course of the evening. It was an event enjoyed by all. Shaqir told us a great deal about English wine, including about the Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire. Given our status as the only school in England with three College choirs, I am keen to purchase some of that! Please look out for next term’s event. There are very few schools who are able to arrange access into places such as the McKenna Room or the Picture Gallery.

On Sunday morning, I found myself at the University Parks. Unlike a large number of the people who had gathered there, I was not wearing running gear. I was there to support the 20 boys from CCCS, who had managed to sign up to run in the event. Mr Harrison had organised a gazebo and CCCS tee shirts, which were sported by all the boys participating. Our boys did tremendously, with Edward Hare, Head Boy, coming 5th out of 460 and 1st in his age group – an extraordinary performance. It was also lovely to see so many parents in attendance. ‘In attendance’ is perhaps an inappropriate phrase in some cases, as there were some parents who actually ran the race alongside some members of staff. Next year, the sky’s the limit!

One of the most exciting places to be this week was the Art department. Every pupil in the School visited it on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to contribute towards the creation of a beautiful mosaic of the school crest. The mosaic, once it has been set, will be on display in the Walton Hall, then moved to the stairwell in the Walton Centre. It is a beautiful piece of work, with intricate pieces of stone placed carefully onto the backing board. I am certain that every pupil will be able to remember which part of the whole they were responsible for.

The Ashmolean is one of the most important museums in the country – it is certainly the oldest. There are often memorable exhibitions to be seen. At the moment there are two, the Breughel to Rubens, a fabulous collection of Old Master drawings from around the world. Prominent amongst them are some from the Christ Church Collection, but elsewhere in the museum is the Young Art Oxford Exhibition, in which a number of our pupils are featured. If it is possible to get into the exhibition tomorrow, then I would thoroughly recommend doing so. It is not often that school pupils’ work will lie alongside Rubens!

And then there was the House Music Competition. The standard which in a normal year is extraordinary, was incomparable. I really don’t know what to say, other than that the music told its own tale. Music really is a part of the air that we all breathe and it is a privilege beyond words to work in a place where such a day is possible.

I have just received the happy news that Mr Harrison is now the father of Theodora Jean Harrison – he tells me that both mother and baby are well. We look forward to welcoming the youngest member of our community before too long. We send Mr and Mrs Harrison our very warmest congratulations.