This month’s Item of Interest post comes from former library intern Alex Keane, who has sniffed out a shaggy dog tale.
Within the Lambeth Palace Library collections, there are countless references to some of the most famous people in history, including Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, and Mary Queen of Scots. However, as it turns out, Lambeth Palace Library represents not just famous humans, but also famous canines. We present to the reader, Oriel Bill.
Home Words, Standon and High Cross, 1898, p. 156.
Oriel Bill was Oriel College, Oxford’s bulldog at the end of the 19th Century. The first photograph (above) shows Bill after passing an exam, and the second (below) unfortunately depicts a later failure. While we are not sure what grade Bill ultimately achieved, there are more pictures of him to be found online dressed as a judge, so it can be assumed that this particular failure didn’t set him back too much at least.
These photographs were found in the Standon and High Cross edition of Home Words for Heart and Hearth, published in July 1898. Lambeth Palace Library is currently in the process of cataloguing a huge collection of these late nineteenth and early twentieth century parish magazines from across the UK. Each one contains a fascinating insight into rural religious life, with beautiful illustrations to help convey a message of family values, agricultural education and new technology, reflecting the intended readership. For more information on this project, please look at the previous Item of Interest blog post: Local perspective – parish magazines, their writers and readers.
The photographs of Oriel Bill were taken by James Soame, who once lived where the Oriel College Rhodes Building now stands in Oxford, before becoming one of the founding members of the Gillman & Soame photography company. As a model for Soame, Oriel Bill stands in the illustrious company of the royal family – not too bad for a dog.
Home Words, Standon and High Cross, 1898