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Robert Burns Lives!
Christ Church Burns Supper, 25 January 2013, By Stephen Hammock

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

I met Burns Club of Atlanta new member Stephen Hammock at one of our meetings a few months ago.  He was excited to share the news that he was on his way to Oxford to capture his PhD dream, and we have since shared emails from both sides of the Atlantic. It was my privilege to introduce him via email to Dr. Jennifer Orr who currently resides in Oxford. I met Jennifer at a Burns Conference in Columbia, South Carolina several years ago and recently reviewed her magical book on Samuel Thomson’s correspondence on RBL! (see Chapter 138). One of the ways she welcomed Stephen to Oxford was by inviting him to a local Burns Supper.

Below is a brief description by Stephen of his evening at the Burns Supper at Christ Church. Most of us would give a “pretty penny” or an “eye tooth” to be part of that celebration! Stephen’s account will also be printed in the newsletter of Burns Club of Atlanta which is edited by the talented Bill Tucker, a good friend of mine.

Stephen will return home to the Atlanta area over the summer and Jennifer is scheduled to speak at our Burns Club in September as guest of the club and Paul Gleeson, Atlanta’s Counsel General of Ireland. In addition, Jennifer will speak to various Irish groups around the state. I will continue to follow the lives and work of these two young Burnsians and bring you updates from time to time. Jennifer is already working on another book and, unbelievably, Stephen’s first year at Oxford is almost complete.  We wish him good luck during the upcoming two years as he continues studying for the prized doctorate he is seeking. (FRS: 4.17.13)

Christ Church Burns Supper
25 January 2013
By Stephen Hammock
DPhil Candidate in Archaeology
St. Cross College
University of Oxford

Rev Dr Blyth, Dr Orr and Stephen Hammock

I was recently invited to attend Christ Church’s Burns Supper by Dr. Jennifer Orr, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) Fellow in English at Trinity College Dublin and Christopher Town Lecturer for English Poetry at Christ Church, Oxford.  Burns Club of Atlanta member Frank Shaw had previously introduced me to Jennifer via email, and this introduction made her gracious invitation possible.  Jennifer is an amazing scholar who attended Oxford, earned her PhD from the University of Glasgow, and is the foremost authority on Burns’ influence among the Ulster weaver poets of Northern Ireland.  Her first book along these lines was called The Correspondence of Samuel Thomson (1766-1816), and she is currently writing her second entitled Poetic Circles: Ulster Romantic Thought and Practice (1790-1815).  For more of Jennifer’s publications see

Burns Supper at Christ Church

Christ Church was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546, after an earlier beginning by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525.  A great many Prime Ministers, Members of Parliament, and famous people have attended this famous college, which is one of the 38 constituent colleges making up the University of Oxford today.  This is where Charles Dodgson tutored Maths (as they refer to math in the UK) and where he wrote Alice in Wonderland and his other works under the name of Lewis Carroll.  It was also the college of William Penn, the famous Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania.  And most recently Christ Church has become famous for many scenes in the Harry Potter movies.  For a brief summary of the college and its renowned graduates please see,_Oxford.

Burns Night was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 in the Great Hall where so many Harry Potter scenes showing the Hogwarts students having their meals were filmed.  Students, lecturers, fellows, and guests wore black tie, to which faculty and students added their academic gowns. The menu included Spicy Smoked Haddock Soup, Haggis with Whisky Jus, Neeps and Tatties, Raspberry Cranachan, and scotch, wine, and/or water as desired.  We mingled with the faculty before supper and marched upstairs to the Hall once all was declared ready.  When the professors and their guests entered behind the High Table at Christ Church, all the students rose while a prayer in Latin was spoken.  Then everyone took their seats and the festivities began.  In addition to myself, Jennifer’s other guest that evening was Baptist minister Rev. Dr. Myra Blyth, who is tutor in Theology and Chaplain at Regent's Park College, and who also served as Jennifer’s own tutor when she attended Oxford as an undergraduate.

Christ Church Meadows Building

The meal was excellent, and the fellowship was convivial and hearty, as befits Burns Night.  Although I do regret missing my first such occasion as a new member of the Burns Club of Atlanta, Jennifer and Myra’s company made for a lovely evening in a spectacular setting, and prove that wherever we may be, new acquaintance, as well as auld, may gather together to “tak a cup of kindness yet for auld” Rabbie Burns!!!

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