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Purr-fect Pictures: plans to commission Simpkin portraits at Hertford

Hertford College is hoping to commission portraits of the late Simpkins in Sub Fusc to be placed in a prominent position in college. The JCR hopes the portraits will be of Simpkin, Simpkin the Second and Simpkin the Third painted in black, with white chests to resemble the academic dress. 

This follows the motion proposed by Jeremy Pirt to Hertford College JCR. His original idea was to have these portraits in Hertford Hall. However this was, Jeremy Pirt told Cherwell, revised in the JCR based on the conclusion that: “Giving a cat the same honour that is bestowed upon former Home Secretaries, leading figures of the reformation, or our modern ‘glass ceiling breakers’, in the words of our [Hertford] principal, would be offensive to those who have earnt the honour.” 

Aside from the dispute over the precise location of the portraits, the JCR reaction to the motion was, according to Jeremy, “generally positive.” He thinks “Most people loved the stupidity of it all.” 

As Jeremy highlights, “There is something ridiculously Oxford about having, not just a college cat (which is silly enough) but a Dynasty of Cats spanning over five decades!” Having portraits of the late members of this dynasty, “would only add to the ridiculousness of it all.” 

After all, the Simpkin dynasty harks back around 50 years to the early 1970s when the first of these notorious felines was introduced to Hertford. According to Hertford’s website “for many decades” Simpkin has now been “one of Oxford’s most loved and most notorious inhabitants.” They have left “their own indelible marks not only on the college, but also the countless students who have managed to find a way of incorporating cat studies into almost every subject offered here!” 

Jeremy Pirt seconds this: “Simkin IV is a much loved member of college life at Hertford, adding to the friendly homely feel of the place. Who can’t love a fat fluffy cat who invades the library to bring cheer when you’ve been stuck on a problem sheet for far too long!!” 

Simpkin and his ancestors are, and have always been, very much a part of Hertford College and its atmosphere. They have a whole section of the College website dedicated to them, with details of their backgrounds, personalities, temperaments and mischievous adventures around Oxford. It is no wonder the College has now turned to portraits too to celebrate their beloved pets. 

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