Diary extracts as a Fellow of New College, Oxford

The series of Diary extracts falls into five groups on separate pages, reflecting Woodforde's career: Oxford undergraduate; Somerset curate; College fellow; Norfolk rector; Tourist.

In each extract the first part is a faithful transcription of the original manuscript, as published in the Parson Woodforde Society's edition in seventeen volumes. The diarist's line-breaks in his manuscript are retained. The second part is a transcription in modern English, with revised punctuation and spelling and set as continuous prose.

In these glimpses into Woodforde's daily life we see him in residence at his Oxford college after being denied the chance to succeed to his father's livings in Somerset, where he had served as curate.

The Atterbury Ensemble String Quartet performing at the Holywell Music Room known to Woodforde at OxfordThe Atterbury Ensemble String Quartet performing at the Holywell Music Room (opened 1748) in 2014 [Tobias Reynolds, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]Competition for the wealthy benefice of Weston Longville, north-west of Norwich and in the gift of New College, is fierce. At the age of 34 he succeeds in obtaining the coveted living where he would spend the rest of his life. He thereupon resigns his college fellowship.

You can view the memorial to Woodforde at New College, depicted as one of the objects featured on this website.

He hears child musical prodigy at Oxford, 21 November 1774

I went to the Music Room this evening being Choral
Night - A great deal of Company present -
I gave to go in being a Subscription -  0 – 1 – 0
I gave my Bedmakers Boy Jack this morn' -  0 – 1 – 0
The Music Room was quite full - stayed till near 11.
Mem: there was a little Boy only 7. Years old by
name Master Weichsell from London who played
a Concerto on the Violin this evening at the Music
Room & played so exceedingly well that astonished
the whole Company present - He was much applauded
indeed & highly deserved it also -
He was obliged to get on a Stool to be seen.
The famous Crosdall gave us two Solo's on the
Violencello - very great Execution indeed -


The cellist John Crosdill (1751–1825), whom Woodforde heard at Oxford (by George Dance)The cellist John Crosdill (1751–1825), whom Woodforde heard at Oxford [drawing by George Dance; engraving by William Daniell c.1802–14: copyright National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 3089(4)]I went to the Music Room [Holywell Music Room] this evening, being Choral Night: a great deal of company present. I gave to go in, being a subscription   £0 1s 0d. I gave my bedmaker's boy Jack this morning   £0 1s 0d. The Music Room was quite full; [I] stayed till near 11.

Memorandum: there was a little boy only seven years old by name Master Weichsell, from London, who played a concerto on the violin this evening at the Music Room and played so exceedingly well that [it] astonished the whole company present. He was much applauded indeed and highly deserved it also. He was obliged to get on a stool to be seen. The famous Crosdall [John Crosdill] gave us two solos on the violoncello: very great execution indeed.


He obtains living of Weston Longville, Norfolk, 15 December 1774

We had a meeting of the whole-House in the Hall
at 12 o'clock, to present a person to the living of
Weston Longueville & to seal the remaining Leases –
The former came on first – Hooke & myself were
the two candidates proposed – Many learned &
warm Arguments stated & disputed – And after
2 Hours Debate the house divided, & it was put
to the Vote – when there appeared for me 21 Votes
for Mr Hooke 15 only on which I was declared
& presented with the Presentation of the Rectory

We had a meeting of the whole House [college governing body] in the [dining] hall at 12 o'clock, to present a person to the living of Weston Longueville and to seal the remaining leases. The former came on first: Hooke and myself were the two candidates proposed. Many learned and warm arguments stated and disputed, and after two hours' debate the House divided, and it was put to the vote – when there appeared for me 21 Votes [and] for Mr Hooke 15 only, on which I was declared and presented with the presentation of the Rectory.


The Society's close links with New College, Oxford

The Parson Woodforde Society greatly values its close links with Woodforde's old college. The college archives hold a large collection of papers on James Woodforde, his extended family and the parish and living of Weston Longville, Norfolk. Every few years the Society returns to the college to hold a three-day frolic: a celebration of all matters relating to the diarist. We greatly appreciate the warmth of the welcome we receive at Oxford – both at New College and in the Bodleian Library which holds his manuscript diary.


New College, Oxford: the steps to the dining hall trodden daily by WoodfordeNew College, Oxford: the steps to the dining hall trodden daily by Woodforde [photo Margaret Bird 2023] The Parson Woodforde Society's 'frolic' at New College, Oxford 1992On the steps: the Society's 'frolic' at New College in 1992; dress these days at the frolic dinners is no longer so formal [Parson Woodforde Society archives]