College Insider at Keble

Our insider on unorthodox architecture, and a brick

When I told my grandfather that I had got into Keble College, Oxford (or, as Monty Python called it, Keble Bollege, Oxford) he said two things to me. The obligatory congratulations were followed by a short pensive pause, in which he concocted the right words to say, “pity about the architecture though”. He is not alone in this view of Keble College. Oscar Wilde once named Keble in a list of things, including the Union and the “screaming of rabbits” suffering from vivisection, which, despite their flaws, could not damage the beauty of Oxford. But what Wilde failed to realise is that Keble is unconventional but brilliant, exactly because of its architecture. The immensely complicated brick pattern, which could have been ruined by the slightest mistake from a hungover or sleep-deprived builder, surrounds the college students, reminding us daily that complication is a virtue not a sin.Yes, we may not be at the peak of the Norrington Table and our alumni list may not boast the most prominent members, but we don’t really care about those things.

Keblites care about shouting slightly confusing chants, which have little rhyme and even less rhythm, whilst we watch our rugby players, most of whom enjoy a cigarette at half time, raise the Cuppers trophy above their heads. We care about the little duck, who has been affectionately named Dorothy, that has decided to make its nest in one of the flower pots, and has gained such a renown that it was cordoned off during the Keble Ball. We care about those little interactions when we walk around the campus and bump into a third year that you saw in Anuba the night before, or a blues rower of whom, as a fresher member of the boat club, you are equally terrified, and in awe. Keble is the college that had the cheek to build its magnificent hall one foot (or one metre—the story changes every time it is told) longer than Christ Church. We boast the fact that, unlike the aforementioned College, we turned down Harry Potter when they tried to film it in our hall, because we didn’t want to move our pictures. We are the College that chose, democratically, an inanimate brick as our mascot. We may be weird and, quite literally, off the beaten track but talk to any member of the College, and they will tell you that we are proud of that fact.