The Regency of Dame Brisen
Hannah Means 1997-1999

The new Regent was Hannah Means of Regent's Park. Although this continued the modern practice of first year Regents, Hannah had been in Oxford for a year before taking up her place at college as an English Literature student, discovering the UK while doing A-Levels in addition to her American qualifications. Another transatlantic first year, Amy Norton, took both the Chancellorship and the Herald's office; Neil Thapen returned, this time as Sensechal; the remaining offices were divided between Anke Buttner and Andrew McMurry.

Trinity saw one external speaker - David Doughan of London Guildhall University, asking of the need for a historical Arthur, and concentrating on the boundaries between Englishness and Britishness. The internal speaker was Anke, describing her visit to Broceliande the previous summer, with regard to its Arthurian connections. Stonehenge was revisited, there was a walk across Port Meadow, and the Doctor Who story, 'Battlefield', was viewed. The Quest returned to its old costumed format on Shotover Hill.

As this was the Society's fifteenth year another anniversary party was held, this time at short notice; nonetheless, a number of old faces turned up. The Society was also invited to History Alive!'s tenth birthday, where there were several veteran Arthurians as well.

Michaelmas saw a renewed drive from Hannah to encourage more people to join the Society, which resulted in another medium-scale but well-attended banquet. Speakers included familiar faces Elspeth Kennedy and Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan. Ideas considered for Hilary included a Society debate, but this didn't reach fruition owing to an absence of debaters; Thomas Charles-Edwards made a reappearance, now in his new guise as professor of Celtic Studies at Oxford University. A weekend pilgrimage to South Wales was also organised for the end of term.

The AGM returned Hannah to office for a second year, the first time a president had held office for more than a year since the days of Paul Antrobus. Among Trinity's speakers was Robert Elliot, a Christ Church undergraduate who had avoided joining the Society despite his Arthurian enthusiasms, suspicious of a neo-paganism that was actually not in evidence in the Society at this time. Appropriately, he spoke on 'A Christian Arthur in Historical Context'. Andrew Smith was restored as magazine editor after eleven years and revolutionised the magazine's appearance, introducing desktop publishing, card covers and a more rigorous editorial policy, renewing the old stipulation that the magazine's contents should closely reflect the happenings of a given term. Plans for a restoration of the summer pilgrimage fell through owing to lack of drivers, but there were trips to White Horse Hill - a summer visit making a change from the usual wind and rain of the October day pilgrimages - and the ever-popular Stonehenge.

The highlight of Michaelmas 1998 was perhaps the visit by Bernard Cornwell, bestselling creator of the Sharpe novels and more pertinently author of an Arthurian trilogy, The Warlord Chronicles. The meeting was co-ordinated with Cornwell's publisher, Penguin Books/Michael Joseph, and with the booksellers Waterstones, reflected in the increased attendance at the meeting; the generous Mr Cornwell insisted on reversing usual practice and took several members of the Society to dinner before the talk. Hilary 1999 saw three Oxford mediaevalists speak - Carolyn Larrington on Morgan le Fay, Mark Atherton on Pre-Arthurian Romances, and Jane Taylor on later French romances.

The AGM saw again a lack of applicants for committee posts; Hannah reflected in her presidential address on how difficult it was to run the Society with a low number of committee members, many of whom had been on the committee for several years. Members remained in situ, with the exception of Amy Norton who was replaced as treasurer by Russ Shannon; Hannah thus embarked on her third year as Regent. Trinity featured the now usual fare of the Quest and a much-appreciated visit to Stonehenge; speakers included Helen Moore on 'Chivalric Liberation and the Harrowing of Hell in Arthurian Romance'. There was also a screening of the Hallmark television mini-series Merlin starring Sam Neill, which Channel 4 had televised over Easter.

Hannah remained president in Michaelmas 1999, although she was now embarking on a postgraduate degree; the then secretary had by then completed his doctorate and the treasurer was also a postgraduate. Michaelmas started badly when a projected theatre trip fell through and the only room that could be found for meetings didn't allow wine to be served, although Hannah valiantly arranged for post-meeting wine drinking sessions in her college house, now belonging to Jesus where she had migrated. The term picked up in the second half with two entertaining talks, one from former Regent Chris Gidlow, by now working at the Historic Royal Palaces as education manager and the proud father of Gaheris, on the historical background to Arthur, and another from Dr Paul Russell on Brittonic epigraphy, with special relevance to the 'Artognou stone' found at Tintagel in the summer. The banquet was also successful, in the appropriate new venue of the dining hall at Holywell Manor, and the cooks (as had become the custom, being Stephie Coane and Anke BŁttner) overcame the lack of immediately adjacent kitchen facilities. However, Hannah increasingly felt that someone else had to take over the presidency, and resigned following the banquet, resulting in an EGM in ninth week...


Committee from the 1997 AGM until 1999 EGM

 
President/Regent:	HANNAH MEANS (Dame Brisen)	Regent's Park/Jesus (from
MT99) 
Secretary/Chancellor:	AMY NORTON (Lady Arianrhod)	St Hilda's (1997/98)
			ANDREW McMURRY (Sir Lohengrin)	Theoretical Physics
(1998/99)
Treasurer/Seneshal:	NEIL THAPEN (Merlin)		Merton (1997/98)
			AMY NORTON (Lady Arianrhod)	St Hilda's (1998/99)
			RUSSELL SHANNON (Sir Owain)	Hertford (1999)
Social Secretary/Butler:ANDREW McMURRY (Sir Lohengrin)	Theoretical Physics
(1997/98)
			RICHARD WINPENNY (Sir Fergus)	(1998/99)
Herald/Publicity:	AMY NORTON (Lady Arianrhod)	St Hilda's (T97)
			ANDREW McMURRY (Sir Lohengrin)	Theoretical Physics
(M97-H98)
			IAN COLLIER (Sir Meriadoc)	(1998/99)
Magazine Editor/Scribe: ANKE BUTTNER (Aneirin)		Brookes University
(1997/98)
			ANDREW SMITH (Naciens the Hermit)(1998/99)
Librarian:		ANKE BUTTNER (Aneirin)		Brookes University (1997/98)
			BECKY CORLETT (Boadicea)	St Hilda's (1998/99)
			THOMAS DOWN (Thomas the Rhymer)	Trinity (T99)
			BECKY CORLETT (Boadicea)	St Hilda's (M99)
Honorary Life Members:	ANDREW SMITH (Naciens the Hermit)
Chief Adviser:		JAIMELLA SHAIKH (Lady Lunette)