The Regency of Merlin I
Peter Ewing, 1985-1986

Unlike Judith, Peter Ewing was an established Arthurian committee member and already heavily involved in planning when he took over the Presidency. Trinity 1985 saw him conduct a walking tour around Oxford, and also work on restructuring the constitution. Peter was also an active member of the English Civil War Society, first mentioned in the minute book at this time, as was at least one other committee member, Chris Gidlow, and it is tempting to see some influence in the first meeting of Michaelmas 1985, when the Barony of the Far Isles mediaeval re-enactment group held a 'Grimwood Festival' on Oriel third quad.

Peter's committee offered a fuller range of events than their predecessors had done, reflecting the success of the Society. Earlier Michaelmas terms had been overshadowed by the Banquet; perhaps the committee now felt sufficiently confident of assistance to run a busy term alongside the preparations for the Society's major social event of the year. Meetings which would become regular features of the Michaelmas termcard appeared, such as the bonfire-storytelling, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Ivan's budgeting helped fund the entertainment of more speakers, including the return of Geoffrey Ashe, academics Gill Rogers and Marion Wynne-Davis, writer Nikolai Tolstoy, and Jon Jayne of the Oxford Pagan Feloowship. Peter himself spoke on fairy tales and their pagan subtexts, while Andrew Smith, "Society member and scholar" - already dubbed 'Geoff' for his championing of the text of Geoffrey of Monmouth against erroneous misreadings, spoke on "Amber, Stonehenge and Badon Hill". The Banquet and the Pagan Party continued, the Banquet now being catered for by Bever's restaurant, on the corner of St Michael's Street and New Inn Hall Street.

The most obvious and enduring innovation of this year was the appearance for the first time of the Society magazine, edited by Sarah Tucker and initially titled Pendragon. It was soon re-named Ceridwen's Cauldron and a selection of articles from its long run can be found here.

Ivan Viehoff - alias Sir Kay the Seneschal- was treasurer and imposed stringent financial discipline, which enabled the Society to run more events on the same amount of expenditure, and leaving the next committee 15 gills of mulled wine in credit. At the Trinity 1986 AGM, Peter could look back on a year when the prestige of the Society had been built up, and connections made to the International Arthurian Society and the now defunct Dragon Society.

There was, however, disagreement about the direction the Society should take. Some members felt that the neo-Pagan influence was growing out of proportion to other strands of Arthuriana. Chris Gidlow intended to stand on this basis against Peter's favoured successor, Sarah Tucker, but it seems this was taken badly by Peter and Sarah and eventually Chris chose to withdraw. Nevertheless, he still received one vote out of fifteen cast!


Committee for 1985-1986

President:	PETER EWING		(Brasenose)
Secretary:	MARK BAKER		(Green)
Treasurer:	IVAN VIEHOFF		(Nuffield)
Committee:	JON COOMBS		(Brasenose)
		JACQUIE KEER		(Somerville)
		NICOLA MARPLES		(Somerville)
		SARAH TUCKER		(Lady Margaret Hall)
		TONY ASHCROFT		(St Peter's) (from MT 1985)
		ANDREW SMITH		(from MT 1985)
Ex-President:	JUDITH BIRD		(Somerville)