Current chapel people
Mia Smith, Chaplain
Mia is responsible for the life of the Chapel, and also has a role in pastoral care as part of the College's welfare team.
Her office is located in Room NB1/4, on the ground floor of staircase NB1 on the main college site.
Mia is happy to meet with members of the college community for any reason, regardless of their faith.
In all pastoral conversations she is bound by both the College / University Confidentiality Policy, and Professional Guidelines for Clergy. So if you need a safe space to offload, or to talk things through, please do get in touch. She can point you to someone who can help you if further help is needed. Or you might just like a cup of tea, a general chat, a good moan, or use of a box of tissues. She is impossible to shock. She won't talk about faith unless you do.
You can contact Mia on mia [dot] smith [at] hertford [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk, (2)79455, or 07841632028.
Mia came to the priesthood via a career in management, nursing, and midwifery. She studied theology at St Mellitus College, and St John's College (Cranmer Hall) Durham. She is passionate about mentoring young leaders, sharing life over food, and developing habits which make us the best version of ourselves.
Hannah Towndrow, Senior Organ Scholar
Hannah is in her second year reading music at Hertford and leads the musical life of the chapel, planning music lists, conducing the choir and playing the organ. After joining her local church choir at the age of 9, Hannah quickly grew fond of choral repertoire and was keen to learn the organ. She started taking lessons with Robert Court at the age of 13, and is currently taking lessons in Oxford with Stephen Farr. Since undertaking the role of organ scholar, Hannah has taken a great interest in conducting, and alongside having lessons with John Traill has attended workshops given by Luis Clemente of the Atlantic Coast Conducting Academy, and classes with Stephen Darlington. Hannah is also a keen bassoonist and has had the opportunity to perform with a number of excellent ensembles in Oxford, including Ripieno Players, Addinsell Sinfonia, the orchestra for the New Chamber Opera, and the Oxford University Wind Orchestra, with whom she toured the East Coast of the USA in December 2017. In addition to her role within the life of the chapel, Hannah assistant-manages the Addinsell Sinfonia, and has recently become the President of the Hertford College Music Society. Following her experience at Hertford so far, Hannah is hoping to pursue a career in choral direction and management. She has achieved distinctions in grade 8 organ, piano and bassoon, and holds the RSCM Gold Award for singing.
Charlotte Coderey, Junior Organ Scholar
The Organ Sloth, leaf-eating somnolent in the organ loft
|Charlotte works alongside Hannah, directing and conducting the college choir as well as accompanying on the organ. She joins the college as a music student, following a gap-year as Organ Scholar of Sherborne School and Abbey in Dorset. Charlotte began studying the instrument with Robin Baggs as the Alison Parkhouse Organ Scholar of St Mary’s Church Tetbury at 15, and during her A-Levels was also Junior Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral. In each of these positions she has given recitals. Charlotte is also a Soprano - in 2016 she was a Three Choirs Festival soloist in the performance of Elijah, and has performed with the festival’s Main Chorus at Buckingham Palace. She was part of the Brandenburg Choral Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields, as a member of the Rodolfus Choir and has contributed to their BBC Radio 3 broadcasts and latest CD: Time and its Passing. She has achieved grade 8 distinction in organ, and DipABRSM voice, and has been repetiteur for productions of Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Britten’s Saint Nicolas. As something of a self-declared adrenaline-junkie, Charlotte's spare time is often split between baking and a Downton Abbey boxset.||In the fast-paced world of church music, the Organ Sloth constantly reminds us to pause and admire the sublime music. The Organ Sloth's major tasks include organ maintenance and page turning. The Sloth is most often seen giving a cheery wave to the congregation during the Peace at the Eucharist.|
Joanna Anderson and Esme Scott, Christian Union Representatives
Famous people commemorated in the chapel
St Alexander Briant, Jesuit martyr
Alexander came up to Hart Hall (which became Hertford College in 1740) in the 1570s. Hart Hall was known as a refuge for recusant Catholics, who continued in their religion rather than seek compromise with the established Church of England. Alexander was influenced by Richard Holtby, his tutor at Hart Hall, to seek a religious life as a Jesuit. Alexander was ordained in France, and returned to his home county of Somerset to minister to Catholics, an activity reckoned treasonous in England at the time.
At the age of 25, Alexander was arrested and tortured, and he was executed for treason at Tyburn on 1 December 1581. He was declared a saint of the Catholic Church in 1970. Read more...
John Donne, poet & preacher
John came up to Hart Hall (which became Hertford College in 1740) in 1584, at the age of 11. Like Alexander Briant before him, John came from a Catholic family, which made recusant Hart Hall the obvious place to study in Oxford. John became a lawyer, but his illicit marriage and religious background severely curtailed his career prospects. He became convinced of the compromise position of the established church, and was ordained into the Church of England, eventually becoming Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. In his day, John was renowned as a fine preacher. His poetry remains among the most popular in the English language.
John Donne is commemorated in the Church of England’s calendar on 31 March. His portrait hangs in the centre of the north wall of the hall. Read more...
Saints Eustace and Hubert, hunters & converts
We are unable to find any record of either Saints Eustace or Hubert ever having studied at Hertford College.
Eustace was a 2nd-century Roman martyr, making any physical link with Hertford rather unlikely. Legend says that Eustace was a Roman army officer who went hunting one day only to be confronted by a hart with the image of a crucifix between its antlers. From the cross, Jesus spoke to Eustace who converted to Christianity. After many trials and tribulations, Eustace was martyred by Emperor Hadrian. Eustace is celebrated with a feast day on 20 September, and is patron saint of hunters, firefighters, victims of torture and Madrid.
Hubert was a 7th-century Belgian saint whose tale of conversion is similar to Eustace's, seeing a hart with a crucifix between its antlers while hunting. Hubert went on to be the first Bishop of Liège. He is commemorated with a feast day on 3 November, and is patron saint of hunters, mathematicians and Liège.
Both saints are symbolized by the hart with a cross between its antlers. Sometime after Elias de Hertford set up Hart Hall in 1282 its symbol became the popular mediaeval iconography of Saints Eustace and Hubert, and remains the arms of Hertford College. The alcoholic spirit Jägermeister also uses the same symbol.
Mary Magdalen, Apostle to the Apostles
Mary Magdalen is commemorated in Hertford College Chapel because one of the two predecessor houses to the college, Magdalen Hall (which became Hertford College in 1874), was named in her honour. Mary Magdalen was one of the followers of Jesus Christ, and the first one to witness to his resurrection. Thus, she is fittingly called the Apostle to the Apostles. Mary Magdalen has been denigrated repeatedly through history as either a prostitute or a love interest, yet her crucial role in the foundation of the church has never been totally lost from sight. The chalice and patten used at the Eucharist in the chapel bear the Latin inscription Aul. Magd., for Magdalen Hall.
William Tyndale, Bible translator & martyr
William graduated from Magdalen Hall (which became Hertford College in 1874) in 1506. He was a pioneer of the movement to translate the Bible into English. William was a Renaissance scholar who worked from the best biblical texts in the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) that were available to him at the time. He used the emergent technology of the printing press to produce many copies of his translation, printed in Worms and Antwerp because his work was banned in England.
In 1535, he was arrested in Antwerp on orders from King Henry VIII of England, and executed the following year. William’s dying words are alleged to have been, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes”. His prayer did not go unanswered: within four years of his death, the king had ordered four official translations of the Bible into English — Coverdale’s, Matthew’s, Taverner’s, and the Great Bible — all of which were based on the work of William Tyndale. When the celebrated Authorized Version (known as the King James Version) was produced in 1611, its New Testament owed 84% of its text to William, and those portions of the Old Testament that he translated before his death make up 75.8% of the Authorized Version’s text of those biblical books. William coined the words Jehovah, scapegoat and Passover for his work, and many of the poetic sayings taken from the English Bible are his work also.
William Tyndale’s portrait hangs in pride of place in the centre of the south wall of hall. A stained-glass window celebrating his life and work is in the ante-chapel. Read more...