This year, the WFA 2012 AGM had as its setting the beautiful city of Oxford, with WFA members meeting in the delightful chapel at Mansfield College.
However, for those who were able to get to Oxford on the Friday evening before the meeting, there was a wonderful opportunity to visit Brasenose College or, as it is affectionately known, "BNC" to explore the Haig connection with BNC.
After his time at Clifton College, Bristol, it was to Brasenose that Haig went as an undergraduate in 1880. BNC in those days was known as a "hearty" college, rather than an intellectual college, and Haig was able to enjoy the advice of the then Principal, Dr Craddock, who exorted his undergraduates to "drink plenty of port"!
Haig appears to have worked reasonably hard by the standards of the day, but also took advantage of the opportunities presented to hunt, play polo and attend a number of fashionable clubs, including the Octagon, the Phoenix and Vincents. Our current Prime Minister also attended BNC and he, like Haig before him, was a member of the exclusive Bullingdon Club.
The visiting group from the WFA was able to visit the college hall to see the picture of Haig that still hangs there (subscribed for by college members after the Great War) and then examine BNC`s collection of papers and photographs related to Haig. The memorial in the chapel to Brasenose men who did not return from the Great War is just one poignant reminder of the catastrophic effect on the generation of young Oxford and Cambridge men who served their country.
The WFA is very grateful to Dr Joe Organ and Georgina Edwards (archivist) who arranged the visit and went to so much trouble to set out all the Haig papers for us. Joe is the schools outreach officer for BNC, and he seeks to encourage young people from all backgrounds to apply to Oxford, and to BNC in particular. Georgina and Joe could not have been more welcoming and the WFA has written to the Principal of BNC to express our thanks, as well as donating a copy of Peter Hart`s "1918 - A very British Victory" to the college library.
Article and images contributed by Rich Hughes, WFA Legal Officer.