GirtOnline Garden Party

June 19, 2020 News

Welcome to the Grand GirtOnline Garden Party

From Friday 19 June 2020

Girt-Online logo

The Garden is Open! Enjoy at your leisure…

Garden Walk

Start your afternoon with a stroll round the gardens, in the company of the Mistress and Deputy Head Gardener, Mr Richard Hewitt.

In the background you can hear a well-known 18th century folk-song, arranged for Queen Victoria’s Consort by Alan Gout. If you know the words, keep an eye out for the tongue-twisting lists of wildlife that Robert M. Jordan’s lyrics suggest you might find. If you don’t know the words but want to learn more about Girton’s biodiversity, visit the Cambridge Green Challenge website:

Did you guess the weight of the tree? Answer near the bottom of the page.

Girton Words

If you are missing not just the sights, but the sounds, feel and atmosphere of the College, why not listen to five new poems on a Girton theme written during lockdown by members of the Poetry Society. You can watch the whole Girton Poetry Festival YouTube playlist.

A quick guide to poetry writing from Girton’s Poetry Society here.

The Lockdown Scrapbook is Open!

Over the past few weeks our whole College community has been asked to submit pictures and words to our lockdown scrapbook. Here is a selection of stories. Don’t worry if yours has not arrived in time to feature: all the entries we receive will soon be available in the College Archive. We want to make sure that our successors have a good feel for what the Girton community was up to during lockdown. ‘The Term When College Closed’ will surely become a Girton legend.

Current Students

Staff and Fellows


#HatsOffGirton with Matt Davies and Pieter Durman

We raised funds for Imkaan a black feminist organisation that addresses violence against BME women and girls, find out more at, and if you would like to add to our total, visit our GoFundMe page:

HatsOffGirton Collage

Live at 5pm Highlights

Mattie O’Callaghan reads her poem ‘For Girton College’

Words – PDF


Introducing Revd Dr Tim Boniface 

Tim Boniface plays ‘Old Folks’ on a Conn 10M tenor sax and piano. #7 in Tim’s Lockdown Ballad series.



FEMSOC Collage

Try your hand at the Girton Quiz!

P.S. The weight of the tree is 22.5 Tonnes (as estimated by our Tree Surgeon)!

Wind down…

…to music recorded by the Gir-ten, over an early evening cocktail.

Gir-ten Creature’s Comfort


Garden Party themed beverages, created by Bridget Ryan

Dessert Competition

Why not try out this challenge from the Head Chef. Design a dessert, and send the recipe to the

Our Head Chef will be the Judge. He is looking for a recipe that captures the spirit of Girton, looks extravagant, tastes delicious, and is appropriately named for the College. The next time we are altogether, he will put it on our menu!

Baking class

Bridget Ryan has two tasty recipes for you to try at home!

Pudding Potato

Pudding Potato


View Ingredients (PDF)

The method demonstrated by Bridget Ryan


Black squirrel cupcakes

Black squirrel cupcakes


View ingredients (PDF)

The method demonstrated by Bridget Ryan


Twilight Garden

Photography: Dr Lila Janik
Music: Locus Iste, by Anton Bruckner (1869), played by Queen Victoria’s Consort


Dance the night away… with Mystery Train’s set from the Girton150 Festival


Thank you and Good Night!

If you are still wide awake and raring to go, why not listen to the Girton DJ Society’s House Mix below?


A Virtual May Week Concert

June 16, 2020 News

Tuesday 16 June 2020, 3.30 pm



Sonata in C minor for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1017, Largo – J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)

Margaret Faultless (violin) & Martin Ennis (harpsichord)

Bach’s six violin and keyboard sonatas were most likely composed during his Cöthen period (1717–1723).  The sonatas are unusual in that the keyboard part is written out by the composer; most contemporary works for this combination consist of two staves of music – one for the violinist, the other a bass-line to be realised, in all likelihood, on the harpsichord.  Here, the keyboard is assigned two independent contrapuntal lines; together with the violin part these create the texture of a trio sonata. The Largo is in a simple binary form; the swinging dotted rhythms of the violin suggest the siciliano, an Italian dance.

Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 535 – J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)

James Mitchell (organ)

The Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 535, exists in two substantially different versions, possibly up to twelve years apart.  The version presented here, the later version, is more expansive.  The opening prelude is a florid display of arpeggio figuration and seamless runs.  The fugue theme appears briefly in the prelude as the first notes in the pedals; the fugue proper extends this subject.  The repeated notes and intervals suggest the influence of earlier German organists such as Nicolaus Bruhns and Dieterich Buxtehude.  However, the fugue is just as free as the prelude: free voice-leading abounds, and the work concludes with a brief cadenza before a final flourish.

Suite in D minor for solo cello, BWV 1008, arranged for viola, Prelude – J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)

Robert Jones (viola)

Sandwiched between the famous G major and the youthful C major suites, Bach’s second suite for solo cello is set in the sombre key of D minor, taking a markedly serious take on the Baroque dance suite.  The expressive opening Prelude comes in waves of emotion that reach ever higher, culminating in a moment of catharsis for both performer and listener.  This arrangement replaces the gruff sound of the cello with the mellow tones of the viola, providing an opportunity for a particularly subtle range of expression.

O sacrum convivium, with divisions by Timothy Roberts – Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1533 – 1585)

Jeremy West (cornett) & Gareth Wilson (organ)

The text of this piece, attributed to St Thomas Aquinas (mid 13th century), was set to music by Andrea Gabrieli in 1565, shortly before his appointment as Director of Music at St Mark’s, Venice.  Gabrieli may have used it as a part of his application to that post as it is unquestionably an exquisite Eucharistic motet.  Originally set for five voices (possibly performed with instrumental support from cornetts and sackbutts), here the four lower parts are played on the organ while the top line is taken and elaborately embellished by the cornett.  Text: O sacred feast in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.  Alleluia.

Trois pièces, iii Toan-Yan – Pierre-Octave Ferroud (1900 – 1936)

Lloyd Hampton (flute)

Each of Ferroud’s Trois pièces draws inspiration from different aspects of Chinese culture.  Toan-Yan, subtitled La Fête du Double Cinq, or ‘the festival of the double five’, depicts the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, according to the Chinese calendar.  (In 2020, the festival takes place on 25 June.)  As well as improvisatory and spirited sections, the piece features an authentic Chinese melody, and the performer is directed to imitate a traditional Chinese flute.

Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35, Book I – Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)

Nicholas Maier (piano)

Brahms wrote his two books of variations on a theme by Paganini in 1863.  He was not the first – or the last – to write a set of variations on Paganini’s famous twenty-fourth Caprice, but his collection contains perhaps the most comprehensive sequence of technical challenges inspired by that theme. The piece offers a summary of many of the techniques Brahms used throughout his output; it is a well-balanced meeting-point between the étude and the concert piece.

Sonatine en trio, Op. 85, Très lent – Animé – Florent Schmitt (1870 – 1958)

Lloyd Hampton (flute), Maddy Morris (clarinet) & Louie McIver (piano)

Educated at the Paris Conservatoire by, among others, Gabriel Fauré, Florent Schmitt is best remembered today for his large-scale orchestral works. His Sonatine en trio (1935) shows a more delicate and playful side to his music, while still exuding French elegance. Although originally written for flute, clarinet and harpsichord, versions of the work survive for flute, clarinet and piano, and for violin, cello and piano. The third movement is spacious and lyrical, while the fourth is filled with musical wit.


Vins et fraises selon son goût

Vals, Op. 8 No. 4 – Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885 – 1944)

Kevin Loh (guitar)

The Paraguayan virtuoso guitarist and composer Agustín Barrios Mangoré wrote his celebrated 4 Valses, Op. 8, under the clear inspiration of Chopinʼs piano waltzes. The fourth Waltz, in D major, is written in a quasi-Viennese style, though with Latin American flair.  Barrios Mangoré uses the guitar in his own distinctive way to create an atmosphere of enchantment and romance.

I will never leave your side – Rachel Hill (b. 1999)

Rachel Hill (voice and guitar)

Paper people – Rachel Hill (b. 1999)

Rachel Hill (voice and guitar)

You’ve lost me (acoustic) – Rachel Hill (b. 1999)

Rachel Hill (voice and guitar)

Rachel is an acoustic singer-songwriter working within a fluid musical genre mostly commonly described as ‘folk-pop’.  Her music draws on influences such as Passenger, Masie Peters, Birdy and Gabrielle Aplin.  Having studied classical singing from a young age, Rachel draws particularly on her unique high notes which characterise most of her music; her lyrics have been described as ‘witty, catchy and deeply personal’. Her debut EP Through Rain or Snow was released on 27 January 2020; it features five original songs.

Chanson russe – Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)

Jemma Starling (violin) & Sam O’Neal (piano)

This ‘Russian Maiden’s Song’ was transcribed for violin and piano in 1937 by Stravinsky in collaboration with the celebrated violinist Samuel Dushkin.  It is based on an aria sung by the character Parasha, a Russian maid, at the start of Stravinsky’s comic opera Mavra; in it Parasha expresses longing for her lover.  Stravinsky produced a number of other violin transcriptions and arrangements for Dushkin, including the ‘Divertimento’, based on music from Le Baiser de la Fée.

Concert Etude No. 6 (‘Pastoral’) – Nikolai Kapustin (b. 1937)

Louie McIver (piano)

Written in 1984, ‘Pastoral’, the sixth étude from a set of eight, is based primarily around a four-note motif which is transformed throughout the piece.  It is a joyful work that demonstrates Kapustin’s impressive insights into jazz.

With you – Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard

Hannah Samuel (voice), James Mitchell (cello) & Louie McIver (piano)

‘With you’ is taken from Ghost, a musical based on the classic movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.  The song explores loss and the process of grieving for a loved one.

Amazing grace [Traditional]

Ailsa Critten & Rachel Armitage (trumpet)

Amazing Grace is a popular hymn first published in 1779 with words by the English poet John Newton (1725–1807).  In 1835 William Walker assigned Newton’s words to a traditional song New Britain, creating the version we know today; this was published for the first time in 1847 in Walker’s ‘shape-note’ tune-book Southern Harmony.  The arrangement for trumpet quartet heard here is by Andrew Reid.

O thou, the central orb – Charles Wood (1866 – 1926)

Girton College Chapel Choir & James Mitchell (organ), directed by Gareth Wilson

Charles Wood was born in Ireland in 1866 and received his earliest musical education in the choir school of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.  He was among the first class of students at London’s Royal College of Music in 1883, before moving to Selwyn College, Cambridge, and later to Gonville & Caius, where he became that College’s first Director of Music.  On Stanford’s death in 1924, Wood became Professor of Music at Cambridge.  He is best known for the liturgical music he wrote for the Anglican Church.  O thou, the central orb, a setting of a text also used by Orlando Gibbons, is one of his most-loved pieces.

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral – Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Gir-Ten Brass: Rachel Armitage, Ailsa Critten, Tessa Doubleday, Dennis Lindebaum (trumpet); Jeremy West (horn); The Mistress, Catriona James (euphonium); Alex Liu, James Mitchell (trombone); Andrew Kershaw (tuba)

Elsa’s Procession, a fragment from Act II, Scene 4, of Wagner’s Romantic opera Lohengrin, is heard as the two main characters walk to Antwerp Cathedral where they will later be married.  This version was arranged by Ian Shepherd and is a Gir-Ten lockdown recording prepared for Girton’s online graduation celebration in July.

Girton College Chapel Choir


Ailsa Critten, Rachel Hill, Catriona James, Maddy Morris, Lisa-Maria Needham, Hannah Samuel and Jemma Starling.


Robyn Bartlett, Frances Conboy, Charlotte Howdle, Rosalind Skillen and Joe Wardhaugh.


Oscar Ings, Kevin Loh, Luke Tutton and Deasil Waltho.


Thomas Beauchamp, Henry Colbert, Dennis Lindebaum, Louie McIver, Jasper Newbold, Sam O’Neal, Ben Pymer, Mark Sawney and Tom Williamson.

Black lives matter. Two-minute silence in memory of George Floyd.

June 8, 2020 News

In the aftermath of the brutal killing of George Floyd, and in light of the wider issues of social injustice this tragedy highlights, we at Girton join all those who stand against violence and oppression, condemn racism, and affirm that black lives matter.

Today we are observing a two-minute silence at 2pm in memory of George Floyd who died two weeks ago. This silence expresses our solidarity with George Floyd’s family and all who suffer with him, including those in our own community: it is about listening to grief and anger, drawing breath to speak out, and aiming to work together for a better, fairer world.

In that spirit, after the silence, some may wish to listen to our Chaplain, Revd Dr Malcolm Guite, read his new poem ‘Cry Out Loud’ – a response, in light of these events, to Psalm 94, itself an ancient call to speak out against injustice, and not to be silenced by fear.

Cry Out Loud

My saviour stands and keeps my soul serene

But also sends me back into the world

To speak his word and challenge the obscene


Injustices we take for granted, sold

As we are on systems that preserve

Our privilege and barter truth for gold


Putting our souls to silence.  We reserve

Our judgement but the psalmist makes it clear

Justice is coming for God’s poor. We serve


Him best if we can serve them here,

Rise up and take their part against the proud

Deliver them from harassment and fear.


We have been pietistic, quiet, cowed

But we must come out publicly and cry

For equal rights and justice, cry out loud.


A reflection by our Chaplain, Revd Dr Malcolm Guite, on Psalm 94, in light of the news of the past fortnight.

This poem is part of a series Malcolm is writing responding to the book of psalms. In the course of writing these poems he has been reminded forcefully of God’s concern for the voiceless and oppressed and how imperative it is that we should advocate and speak up for one another.


Published: 8 June 2020

Coronavirus: FAQs for Girton College

June 5, 2020 News

This page contains the latest advice for students, staff and Fellows at Girton College on novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As the situation evolves, these FAQs are subject to change, so you are advised to consult them on a daily basis in order to obtain the latest information.

The University is continually monitoring latest Public Health England and Government advice about the virus. You can find useful information on their website here.

Latest UK Government advice is available on the Government Response webpages here.

Communications from The Mistress:


Published: 18 March 2020 (updated: 05/06/2020)

Notice to students re collection of belongings

June 1, 2020 News

On Thursday 21 May, the UK government announced changes to their guidelines for students with belongings left in Halls of Residence and Colleges. Under these new guidelines, students who have possessions are now able to travel back to their university to collect them. All vacated rooms must be cleared using one of the options below – doing nothing is not an option!

There are various options:

  1. Collect in Person via a booked slot.
  2. Nominate another student to pack and collect for you.
  3. When restrictions allow, arrange for a packing company to come in securely to pack, collect and ship (including insurance) your belongings to your destination e.g. This company is not endorsed by the College and other similar schemes may be available.
  4. Alternatively, the College can arrange a packing company for you on request and at your expense.
  5. If you packed your items ready to ship before you left, request that the College posts these on to you at your risk and expense. If you packed in a hurry without protecting items for shipping, used unsuitable containers or didn’t leave a list of what was in your boxes, you must choose either options 3 or 4 instead.
  6. Request unpacked items be packed by College staff and put into storage – this option is only for those unable to collect now (international students and vulnerable home students) and only if returning in Michaelmas term. We will send you a quote for packing and cleaning your room, based on an hourly rate of no more than c£20 per hour plus laundry costs.
  7. Please contact if your situation isn’t covered by any of the options above.

Booking for Collection in Person / Nominating a fellow student to pack for you, FORM

Collection is via PRE BOOKED SLOTS ONLY, between Saturday 20 June and Friday 31 July.  If you arrive at College without having booked a slot, we regret that you will be turned away, no matter how far you have travelled.

The booking form is here. Slots are mostly 2 hours long, with a couple of 4 hr slots per day for those packing for others as well as themselves.

If another student has offered to pack/collect for you, you should fill in the appropriate nomination box on the form otherwise they won’t be permitted to access your room.

Your booking will generate a confirmation email which you should bring with you.

Please note that in the event of a covid outbreak in the flat/corridor you wish to access, we might have to cancel your visit at short notice.

Booking for options 3-6

Please email to arrange any of these options. Your possessions are insured for secure storage in College, but if you need them to be packed and shipped abroad you or we must arrange a packing company to do this. If you are worried about costs/valuables, please contact

How will collection work?

*Location of Bookboxes, handwash points, designated WC and storage may vary over the booking period and will be signposted on your arrival.

  • If you or a member of your household have any symptoms of COVID-19 then you must not travel to collect your belongings. Please follow PHE guidance on self-isolation and notify the Porters of your cancellation.
  • Check that you have read and understand the current measures on social distancing:
  • Follow the current PHE advice on safe travelling in the UK during COVID:
  • Please bring any boxes, bags or suitcases that you will need with you and your appointment email, plus hand sanitiser.
  • Please also bring any Girton/faculty library books you have at home, your unicard and any College keys including your bike key if you are taking your bike home.
  • On your appointed day, arrive at College/Swirles shortly before your slot. At College, please park in Cloister Court, at Swirles, please park at the top of Pheasant Drive near the Lodge. You may bring one other person only to help.
  • Go to the designated handwash point* and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Check in at the Lodge (helper to stay outside please). Both Lodges have social distancing measures in place – you must observe them. Only one at a time in front of the counter staying 2m from Lodge staff at all times please.
  • The Duty Porter will issue your key/card (if you handed it in), sani wipes, black bags, and gloves and disposable face masks for you and your helper. A hoover will also be available to borrow.
  • The Duty Porter will direct you to your room following a designated route and will open any access gates necessary, e.g. back drive gate at College. Please clean touch points (door handles, bannisters) along the route as you go.
  • At the main site please do not use shared wcs in the residential areas.
  • At either site, if you are collecting from an occupied area, only you and not your helper should enter the shared kitchen; time spent in the shared areas should be kept as brief as possible and no contact with residents indoors please. (You may meet outside and distanced, after your visit, as per published government guidelines).
  • Once you have packed, and cleaned your room, leave any rubbish inside your room, securely bagged and tied.
  • Limited storage is available for international students only. If you are packing for a friend who is abroad, please phone the Lodge when you are ready to place labelled (with the owner’s name) boxes in storage and the Porter will direct you to the storage area. Up to 3 boxes may be stored.
  • Please leave any library books (ours and any from other CU libraries) in the lodge collection boxes*
  • Ask the Porter to check your pigeonhole and the parcels register.
  • Collect your bicycle if you are taking it with you (you may leave it locked on site, we are not doing a bike cull this summer).
  • Return the hoover if you borrowed one and leave it as directed by the Porter.
  • Return your key (and your unicard if you are a finalist) at the Lodge and check out.
  • Once you have checked out, you must not re-enter the building.
  • If you are packing and collecting on behalf of another person, as well as yourself, you may collect both keys at the same time if both rooms are in the same flat/corridor, otherwise please do one at a time and follow the Porters’ instructed route to the second room. Please note that you are responsible for your friend’s possessions once removed from the room and they will not be the responsibility of College.
  • Foodstuffs: All perishable items, opened packets and items past their ‘sell buy date’ have been disposed of. Please do not leave usable items behind in the kitchens, donate these to a foodbank if you cannot use them yourself.

To protect the College’s staff and resident students, published government social distancing rules will apply at all times. Students collecting their belongings are expected to:

  • Limit the number of ‘helpers’ to one person per student.
  • Bring food and drink provisions with you, and eat outside please or in your car, and don’t interact with staff more than necessary.
  • Use the WC designated for visitors* and wash your hands both on arrival and as you leave.
  • Depart promptly – the next person can’t come in to site until you have left. If you wish to have a last look around the gardens and take photos etc please do this after you have handed your keys in to avoid delaying the next person on the list.

Students with special circumstances and those unable to travel

  • If you are unable to come to Cambridge and have difficulty with options 2-6 on the list above, or the end deadline then please contact the Accommodation Manager.
  • If you are a finalist and still have your room key and unicard at home please arrange for these to be posted back to College by June 30th.  Replacement key charges apply after this.
  • Books etc. for any library (College, faculty/department, UL) can be posted to the UL, who will then return them to the appropriate library.

I hope that the process runs as smoothly as possible, and thank you in advance for your cooperation. We are very sorry not to be able to provide reception and hospitality to your families collecting in the usual way, but we will help as much as we can and look forward to welcoming you and your families and friends back to College at a happier time in the future.

All best wishes,

Maureen Hackett, Junior Bursar

Published: 1 June 2020







Statement from the heads of Cambridge colleges

May 22, 2020 News


As heads of Cambridge colleges we have been concerned in recent days to see headlines around the world making the claim that Cambridge will be moving entirely online next year. These claims have caused unnecessary alarm to students and our wider community. We are a collegiate university, and our strength is that so much student activity takes place in colleges, from small group teaching and pastoral care to music and sport.

We will always take the latest public health advice and clearly there will be challenges in providing all this in the next academic year. Online lectures will make a key contribution. But we are determined to do our best to bring the colleges and the university back to life with intensive in-person learning in the traditional locations and the widest possible range of activities.

Jane Stapleton, Master, Christ’s College; Athene Donald, Master, Churchill College; Anthony Grabiner, Master, Clare College; David Ibbetson, President, Clare Hall; Christopher Kelly, Master, Corpus Christi College; Mary Fowler, Master, Darwin College; Alan Bookbinder, Master, Downing College; Fiona Reynolds, Master, Emmanuel College; Sally Morgan, Master, Fitzwilliam College; Susan J Smith, Mistress, Girton College; Pippa Rogerson, Master, Gonville & Caius College; Geoff Ward, Principal, Homerton College; Anthony Freeling, President, Hughes Hall; Sonita Alleyne, Master, Jesus College; Michael Proctor, Provost, King’s College; Madeleine Atkins, President, Lucy Cavendish College; Rowan Williams, Master, Magdalene College; Barbara Stocking, President, Murray Edwards College; Alison Rose, Principal, Newnham College; Chris Smith, Master, Pembroke College; Bridget Kendall, Master, Peterhouse; John Eatwell, President, Queens’ College; David Yates, Warden, Robinson College; Mark Welland, Master, St Catharine’s College; Catherine Arnold, Master, St Edmund’s College; Tim Whitmarsh, vice-Master, St John’s College; Roger Mosey, Master, Selwyn College; Richard Penty, Master, Sidney Sussex College; Sally Davies, Master, Trinity College; Daniel Tyler, acting vice-Master, Trinity Hall; Jane Clarke, President, Wolfson College; Michael Volland, Principal, Ridley Hall.

Published: 22 May 2020

Girton’s Festival of Poetry: National Jane Martin Poetry Prize winners are announced for 2020

May 16, 2020 News

Girton College is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Jane Martin Poetry Prize, a national poetry competition for young poets, established in 2010 in memory of Girton alumna, Jane Elizabeth Martin. The College has been a longstanding supporter of poetry and this announcement marks the 10th Anniversary of the prize.

As part of Girton’s Festival of Poetry fortnight (11-22 May 2020) you can watch the winners give a special reading of their winning poems below:

First prize: Annie Forbes for ‘Crossing’ and ‘Inisbofin’ 

Congratulations to Anna Forbes from Edinburgh. She studied at King’s College London, where she received a degree in Comparative Literature. She is currently working towards an MLitt at the University of St Andrews.

Alex Houen, one of the Judges for the prize comments:

“Anna’s entry is beautifully focused on the visual, and I thought the mini-sequence poem ‘Crossing’ is really fascinating for the way that it ‘develops’ rather like a photograph (or series of photos) so that in the fields ‘resolving as we pass’ we can hear resolution to be about clarity of image and one’s relation to things. The poem pointedly does not ‘resolve’ as a narrative does, for its vision is focused on how images can be striking precisely because they keep things in tension — as with ‘softened light’ shivering around the halo-ish ‘brightness’ of a sleeping sister. There is a gentle poetic confidence about ‘Crossing’, and there is in ‘Inisbofin’, too, in the way that it develops a ‘strange relief’ (visual and emotional) with its chiaroscuro imagery. It’s not easy to be clear about shadowy things, especially when what’s shadowy extends to mood, but such clarity is what these two poems achieve, and they do it with a very impressive feel for line-breaks, prosody, and image.” 

Second Prize: Aayushi Jain for ‘Whale Song’ and ‘Night Swim’ 

Congratulations to Aayushi Jain, a 24-year-old writer and musician from Birmingham. She is currently studying English Literature at the University of Exeter, and after spending a year abroad in Ottawa her short story ‘Lighthouse’ was recently published in the Write Across Canada Anthology.

Judging the prize with Alex Houen was Holly Corfield-Carr, who comments:

“What a euphoric, euphonic thing it is to read ‘Whale Song’. It is awash with sound, from the gong of the tongue to that ‘blood bassoon’ and I had an appropriately cetaceous species of a time singing along. When ‘Whale Song’ is paired with the delicate smallness of ‘Night Swim’, the scale shifts, both in size and song and the whale-mother, who in ‘Whale Song’ swallows the poet whole, in ‘Night Swim’ shrinks to the size of plankton, suspended in the belly of a jellyfish.”

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize Girton will be publishing a special anthology, including a selection of poems from eminent Girtonian poets, both past and present, as well as the winning poems from the Jane Martin Poetry Prize winners from the past decade. Watch this space!  However, for a sneak preview here are some of our current students reading a selection for our ‘Festival of Poetry’, watch on YouTube here.

From 18 – 22nd May, members of the current Girton Poetry Society will be reading their new poems on GirtonLockdown, one on each day. Do listen to them, or catch them later on our YouTube channel here.

VE Day: Girton Remembers

May 8, 2020 News

At 3pm on 8 May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that war in Europe had come to an end. Today marks 75 years since VE Day. World War 2 had ravaged continental Europe and beyond and not a corner of British life was left unaffected.

At Girton corridor windows were painted dark blue and blackout curtains were hung in student rooms. The grounds were turned over for the growing of vegetables and for keeping pigs. The College worked hard to become self-sufficient in vegetables and students volunteered both in the gardens and in the kitchens. Crops included onions, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, celery and tomatoes, and vast numbers of potatoes, over 19 tons in 1941–1942.

Students raking and collecting potatoes in the College grounds, taken by Fox Studios, 1942 (archive reference: GCPH 10/12/15)

Students raking and collecting potatoes in the College grounds, taken by Fox Studios, 1942 (archive reference: GCPH 10/12/15)

During the war the College welcomed new residents who were either escaping danger or working for the war effort. In 1939–1940, Girton gave a new home to 56 women students and two staff evacuated from Queen Mary College in London until they found more spacious accommodation in Cambridge. In 1939 the Girton College Refugee Fund was established, which would help three Czech and German student refugees to attend College. It also supported the war-time residence of Dr Elsbeth Jaffé (1889–1971), a scholar from Germany. The Grange was occupied by the army during some of these years, and from 1943 Girton also provided a home for a small number of women of the Voluntary Aid Detachment [VADs].

Queen Mary College, Union Society headed note paper, 1939–1940 (archive reference: GCPP Blacklocks 2)

Queen Mary College, Union Society headed note paper, 1939–1940 (archive reference: GCPP Blacklocks 2)

In time students took a two-year degree under War Emergency Regulations, and many students and Fellows postponed study and research to help the war effort, providing valuable work that spanned the civil service, military, medical and scientific appointments and counter-intelligence. Alison Duke (1915–2005), who later became a Fellow in Classics at Girton, worked in Greece helping refugees, while Eva Hartree (1873–1947), a student in the 1890s and the first woman Mayor of Cambridge, helped support Jewish refugees in the city. One of the many bound by the Official Secrets Act, who rarely spoke of the war, was brilliant mathematician Mary Cartwright (1900-1998), Mistress of Girton from 1949 to 1968. Despite her important scientific contributions, above all to the effectiveness of radar, she modestly reported that her most useful war work had been packing parachutes for men sent into enemy territory. Baroness Platt of Writtle (1923–2015) was one of Britain’s first female aeronautical engineers, who went on to chair the Equal Opportunities Commission, her war work took her to the Hawker Aircraft Company where she was instrumental in developing fighter planes at the company’s experimental flight test department in Langley, Berkshire.


More than a dozen Girtonians worked at Bletchley Park, the top-secret British code-breaking establishment. Some paused their degrees to join the war-effort, others were recruited as graduates. The Official Secrets Act silenced Bletchley memories for many years, but in later life Girtonians would recall their work and lives in the Bletchley huts. Some were machine operators, setting and re-setting keys on replica German ‘enigma’ machines; others listened to enemy radio broadcasts, tapping out jumbles of words and starting the deciphering; others focussed on decoding and analysis. Some recalled periods of boredom, others fascinating work spliced by fear that a small error could risk lives.

Bletchley Park personnel, at work in the Hut 6 machine room in Block D, probably early 1945 (image reproduced courtesy of Bletchley Park)

Bletchley Park personnel, at work in the Hut 6 machine room in Block D, probably early 1945 (image reproduced courtesy of Bletchley Park)

On this day the College recognises all those whose sacrifices and service led to VE Day. Thank you.

Girton’s Lockdown Scrapbook

May 7, 2020 News

Girton Lockdown Scrapbook

For the first time ever, Girton is effectively closed for the term. Most of our students have left, Fellows are working from home, teaching and learning is mainly online and staff are largely furloughed.  Neither past pandemics nor two World Wars have had the same far-reaching effects on College life as coronavirus today.

To capture this unprecedented moment, all members of the Girton Community – students, Fellows, staff and alumni – are invited to submit a paragraph, a photograph or both, to create our lockdown scrapbook.

‘Lockdown’ is that period (from late March in the UK) when anyone who is not a keyworker stayed at home, except for essential journeys, to reduce the effects of coronavirus. What did you do? How did you manage, what changed, were there new opportunities, different ways of working, important take-aways, or is most of it best left behind?

We know that all lives have been touched, and many lost, by this crisis, and it may not be the right time for you to take part in this project. However, if you are willing to share one memorable moment from your work or life during lockdown, please click the link below.

We are interested in every aspect of the way coronavirus has impacted on our Girton community: home working and schooling, being furloughed, online activities, business ventures, family life, friendships, exercise routines and more.

We will make a real and online scrapbook with a selection of submissions, and deposit all materials received into the Archive, for future generations. Submissions received before 9 June will be eligible to be included in the scrapbook that will be published at the GirtOnline Garden Party – on 19 June  – virtual celebration to mark the end of Easter Term.

Submit your photograph and/or story here via WuFoo.

Published: 7 April 2020