Soames Shield

No. 2. Shield from Hall 1947

An oak shield measuring 32cm made by Rogers, 51 High Street, Oxford in 1947. It is painted with the arms and motto of the Soames family with a carved wooden hanging strap painted with the name and date of the donor. Object no. 1 in this series was a single item – the only survivor from hundreds of its kind. An item which would have been so familiar to all members of the school that the importance of the whole collection of desk lids to future generations was overlooked, and all except one solitary survivor discarded in the 1920s. Object no. 2 is also totally familiar to nearly everybody in the school. Every time prospective parents are shown around or somebody invites a guest to a meal in Hall, it is a talking point. But the single object is very rarely seen on its own. It is an integral part of a Radley institution which comprises nearly 370 individual objects. Should a single shield be separated from its context it becomes a nuisance, lying around in an office or workshop awaiting repair, anonymous, and in danger of being lost. This is about context and familiarity; it is about status and identity; it is about commemoration across generations; about how long it takes for an idea to become a tradition; and about the inquiring mind of a schoolboy. To read more click here.

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