Social studies

11th April 2017

News, Student news

Mysterious knocking, murder in the dark, swimming, scones and study all featured in the 2017 Wadham Cornwall Reading Party, as Tutor Peter Thonemann reports.

  • Peter Thonemann, Forrest-Derow Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History (back row, centre) with Reading Party participants

  • Lamledra House

    Lamledra House

“In the penultimate week of March, a party of twelve current Wadham undergraduates and three senior members (Ray Ockenden, Peter Thonemann, and Raphael Utz) spent a memorable week at Lamledra House on the south Cornish coast.  Wadham reading parties have been staying at Lamledra for many years, and the house remains as magical as ever, save for some mysterious night-time knocking. 

“Applications for the reading party were invited from all current Wadham undergraduate and graduate students.  (The expenses of the reading party have long been underwritten by the generous bequest of a former Wadham history tutor, Reggie Lennard, boosted by subsequent contributions by reading-party alumni.) The twelve successful applicants were drawn from a range of subject-groups and years, from Engineering to History of Art.  We were delighted to welcome back Sam Liu, our sole repeat participant this year, and Theo Chevallier, who paid a whirlwind visit in the latter half of the week

“Seven hours a day were reserved for quiet work time, and great quantities of Finals revision and thesis-writing were done by all, on topics including Anglo-Saxon post-holes (still useful), gear-tooth profiles, and the legal validity of exit clauses in relationship contracts.  Ollie Braddy proved to be an unusually able Master of Bins.  The weather was less glorious than in some previous years; as Justine Ryan aptly remarked, the colours of the sea, sand and sky tended to the indistinguishable, though this failed to deter Tilly Ansell from swimming unprecedented distances.

“Although, in contrast to previous years, patchy mobile phone coverage has now reached Lamledra Hill, little use was made of it, and many participants even did their best to distribute their phones over remote parts of the Cornish coast.  Several windy cliff walks were enlivened by the company of a miscellany of dogs of varying leg-length.  Evening entertainments included memorable games of Mafia, Tuscan Charades, and Murder in the Dark, the last enlivened by Lucy Halton’s gibbering outrage at being assassinated by her chaperone.

“All cooking was communal, and the quality of the week’s cuisine was outstanding this year, with highlights including Lucy Halton’s scones and Ollie Braddy’s auto-detonating cake.  Sadly, there was insufficient time to try out either potentilla (a particularly powerful Spanish omelette), or puddock (an unsuccessful nineteenth-century attempt by French chefs to create a new fish-based dessert for the English market).

"Next year’s reading party will be advertised in January 2018.”

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