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Photo of  Robert Athol
By Robert Athol
Image of Christmas Greetings from the Master, 1908
Christmas Greetings from the Master, 1908

Archive of the month: Jesus College Christmas Cards

Along with decorating Christmas trees, attending carol services and enjoying mince pies, sending and receiving Christmas cards is one of the staples of the festive season.

The tradition of exchanging Christmas cards has been popular in Britain since the mid 19th century with Summerly's Home Treasury Office on Bond Street in London commercialising the idea by selling printed Christmas cards in 1843.

Although no 19th century examples survive in the College Archives, there is an array of later Christmas cards that have been printed for the College, often specifically for the Master and Master’s wife to send to members of the College. Some designs proved very popular, however, and were made more widely available. 

The following is a selection of some of these cards from the earliest survivals in the Archives to those of the 21st century. The artists of some of the mid-20th century cards have been difficult to identify, so any suggestions as to who they might be would be very welcome.  

An illumination from a 15th century Book of Hours, probably Florentine, which was bequeathed to the College by Arthur Gray, Master 1912-1940. The text in red introduces the office of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the Roman use and in black gives the opening response: "Oh Lord, thous shalt open my lips and my mouth shall procalim thy praise". Christmas card 2003.Drawing of the window arches on the north side of the chancel. Christmas card 1911View of the Gatehouse from the Master's Garden by C. Rose. Unfortunately it has not been possible to identify C. Rose or if they had a connection to the College. Christmas card 1955.View of the choir and altar in the College Chapel. The lectern shown in the image was made in 1849 for the College by Pugin, inspired by the lectern in the Chapel at King's College Cambridge which he also designed. Christmas card 1908. 'Madonna and Child', crayon drawing by Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722). Christmas card 2016.'The Presentation in the Temple' by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet. Painted c.1700, it was given to the College in 1796 to serve as an altarpiece in the Chapel. Christmas card 2015. Here described as Bishop Alcock, a stall end in the College Chapel made in 1849 by James Rattee. It is a copy of one of the early 16th century figures from the Chapel which, at that date, was then in the parish church at Landbeach, Cambridgeshire. Christmas card 1910
A stall end in the College Chapel made in 1849 by James Rattee. It is a copy of one of the early 16th century figures from the Chapel which, at that date, was then in the parish church at Landbeach, Cambridgeshire. Christmas card 2006.
Detail of carving from the Master's stall in the College Chapel by G. W. P. Andrew. Christmas card c. 1951Engraving of First Court in about 1830. Christmas card 1980.'Saint Radegunda'. a detail from a stained glass window in the south transept of Jesus College Chapel, designed by Sir. Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by Morris & Co in the 1870s. Christmas card 2004
'The Nativity', Jesus College Chapel, designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by Morris & Co. Installed in 1914 above the south choir stalls in memory to Dr. Henry Morgan, Master 1885-1912. Christmas card 2002.
View of north west corner of Cloister Court by M. Oliver Rae. Mabel Oliver Rae Parker was born in Cambridge at Jesus Lane and, after attending the Slade School of Fine Art, developed a reputation as an accomplished artist. Part of her oeuvre included depictions of Oxbridge Colleges, including this one of Jesus College (no doubt a familiar location considering her birthplace) used for a Christmas card of about 1939.
A detail from a stained glass window in the organ loft of Jesus College Chapel, designed by Henri Gerente and installed in 1849. Christmas card 2009.A detail from the Pugin decoration on the Sutton organ of 1849 in Jesus College Chapel. Christmas card 2007.View of First Court by M. Oliver Rae. Mabel Oliver Rae Parker was born in Cambridge at Jesus Lane and, after attending the Slade School of Fine Art, developed a reputation as an accomplished artist. Part of her oeuvre included depictions of Oxbridge Colleges, including this one of Jesus College (no doubt a familiar location considering her birthplace) used for a Christmas card of about 1900.

  

  

  

  

  

 

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