In Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (1894-95) some of the characters meet in Christminster (Oxford) on "Remembrance Day". For example:

"The place seems gay," said Sue. "Why—it is Remembrance Day!—Jude—how sly of you—you came to-day on purpose!"

There is also this passage:

"Oh, that's the Doctors in the theatre, conferring Honorary degrees on the Duke of Hamptonshire and a lot more illustrious gents of that sort. It's Remembrance Week, you know. The cheers come from the young men."

This appears to be an Oxford University-specific commemoration. However, I can find no reference to this celebration on-line.

Can someone point me to a source that explains what "Remembrance Day" in Jude the Obscure is in celebration of?

Or, did Hardy simply make this up?

1 Answer 1


‘Remembrance Day’ is Hardy’s fictional version of Encaenia,

the ceremony at which the University of Oxford awards honorary degrees to distinguished men and women and commemorates its benefactors.

University of Oxford. ‘Encaenia’.

The correspondences are:

  1. ‘Remembrance’ is synonymous with ‘commemoration’.

  2. Christminster confers honorary degrees on Remembrance Day; Oxford does the same at Encaenia.

  3. Christminster’s Remembrance Day has a procession of academics:

    A peal of six bells struck out, human faces began to crowd the windows around, and the procession of heads of houses and new Doctors emerged, their red and black gowned forms passing across the field of Jude’s vision like inaccessible planets across an object-glass.

    Thomas Hardy (1895). Jude the Obscure, p. 389. London: Harper.

    The University of Oxford has the same at Encaenia:

    On the morning of the ceremony, the heads of colleges, university dignitaries, holders of the Oxford degrees of Doctor of Divinity, Civil Law, Medicine, Letters, Science, and Music, and the honorands assemble, in full academic dress, in one of the colleges, where they enjoy Lord Crewe's Benefaction of peaches, strawberries and champagne. They then walk in procession to the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street.

    University of Oxford. ‘Encaenia’.

  4. Both processions end at a theatre:

    Phillotson had seen both her and Jude as they stood in the rain at Christminster watching the procession to the Theatre.

    Hardy, p. 423.

  5. The theatre has an octagonal cupola:

    Not quite knowing what to do with himself, he went up to an octagonal chamber in the lantern of a singularly built theatre that was set amidst this quaint and singular city. It had windows all round, from which an outlook over the whole town and its edifices could be gained.

    Hardy, p. 135.

    ‘Lantern’ is an architectural term for a structure “on the top either of a dome or of an apartment, having the sides pierced, and the apertures glazed, to admit light” (OED).

  • How interesting that he should have chosen - in about 1895 - to use the term "Remembrance Day" given the importance that the term should acquire after 1919 to mark the day - the nearest Sunday to 11th November - that Britain has adopted to mark the commemoration of those who have died - nowadays in all wars since that time.
    – WS2
    Sep 5, 2023 at 11:40

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