The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald H. Adams

The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald H. Adams is a book usually bought by tourists and, most likely, finalists like me. I got this from the Bodleian library gift shop last time I went to the library. I wanted to get one because I enjoyed very much the Formal Halls (formal dinners). I did not realise how many differences are between the graces. The book covers the meaning of the graces and their history before listing the graces of Oxford and Cambridge in chronological order.

The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald H. Adams

The book offers English translations for the Latin graces. I skim read the graces in Latin and looked over the English version if something was unclear. While this might sound very posh, the graces are pretty basic and repetitive, and I did Latin in school, so I remember a bit.
There are also descriptions of the rules regarding the Formal Halls.

Reading all of them in one go is very interesting because it is easier to see the differences between them. Some colleges only have a pre dinner grace, called ante cibum, like Pembroke, Cambridge. Other colleges only have a post dinner grace, called post cibum, like Teddy Hall, Oxford.

Some are quite long while others only have a quick 2 words grace. Some have different graces, for lunch and dinner, while others have different graces for events. Most of them are similar, praising the deity and thanking for food, with Mansfield Oxford as an exception. Mansfield has a non-religious grace. A few of them mention the King [Queen in this edition of the book, as it was published in 2022], and a few mention the founder(s) of the specific college, while a few more mention both the monarch and the founder. For example the post cibum grace of Christ Church Oxford mentions Henry VIII as ‘our first noble Founder’.

I think this would make for a lovely gift for anyone connected to the Oxbridge colleges or who likes their history.

The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald H. Adams

Details about the picture: I took this picture in front of Oriel College, Oxford
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: The Bodleian Library
Year it was published: 2022 (first published in 2013)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History
Pages: 96

About the author: Reginald H. Adams was a member of St. John’s College, University of Oxford. He also published another similar book: Latin in Oxford: Inscriptiones Aliquot Oxonienses.
Website & Social Media Links: –

2 thoughts on “The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald H. Adams”

  • I think this sounds like an interesting book. While I never studied Latin, I use to sing in choirs that often performed sacred choral music in Latin (and occasionally in German). So I’m familiar with some Latin words and phrases.
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    • I think you could read most of this book in Latin, as I imagine the words for the choral music are similar to ones if these prayers. I enjoyed the book very much.

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