Poppy wreaths beneath the cloister war memorial

Remembrance Day 2020

In this season of Remembrance, our thoughts turn to those from our College community who lost their lives in conflict. 

During World War One, New College lost three of our Fellows in battle, Lieutenant Leslie Whitaker Hunter, Fellow in Classics, Lieutenant George Leonard Cheesman, Fellow in Ancient History, and Captain Geoffrey Watkins Smith, Fellow in Biology. 

A memorial to their sacrifice exists in the Antechapel of New College. 



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

                                       - Binyon, 1914


Members of the college gathered for the 2 minute silence

Remembrance Music

To view the New College Act of Remembrance, which was incorporated into our service of Evensong on the 8th of November, click here

To listen to 'Songs for Remembrance - 'A Shropshire Lad', the recital given by our Assistant Director of Music, Dónal McCann, and New College Choir Clerk Daniel Tate, please click here.

A wartime letter

On the 21st July 1916, Classics Fellow Leslie Hunter wrote to Warden Spooner, sending condolences upon hearing of the death of his colleague Fellow Geoffrey Smith. Hunter himself died two days after reaching the front. 

I was most dreadfully grieved to hear when I arrived here of Geoffrey [Smith]’s death which I had not seen in the papers. All the men who seem to have most brilliant careers before them are the first to be cut off. I can’t imagine three men of greater promise and distinction than our three, [Smith, Cheeseman and Heath]. I very much want to come back myself and help start this peace going again after the war. So we’ll hope that it will fall out so.

My feelings about this college are so strong & deep that I can’t express them: and since the war began my gratitude & love for it have grown still greater, as I see what a part its members have played, & what a price has been exacted for their service. I should like you & the older fellows to know especially how grateful I feel for all your kindness & unwearying encouragement to me: I think that during my time here as Fellow we have indeed been a real household of good fellowship, and have found how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell together in unity.

If I don’t come back here again, it won’t be my own fault: but in that case I should like the College to have the first use of any of my Classical Books they found useful. …

But of course I am going if possible to come back & try to relearn my Classics sufficiently to make a younger generation realize there is still a power in them to inspire which few other studies possess.

Ever yours in affection and gratitude Leslie W. Hunter.