The Rt Hon Baroness Gillian Shephard of Northwold DL - Modern Languages, 1958

Baroness Shephard was the Conservative Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk from 1987 to 2005 and is now a Conservative Peer. During her time in Office she served as Secretary of State for Employment, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods and Secretary of State for Education. She also served in William Hague’s Shadow Cabinet and is currently Parliamentary President of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Reflections on my time at St Hilda’s

Oxford struck me as incredibly beautiful, very privileged, intriguingly full of strange usages, like having to wear a gown to dinner, and of curious language which had to be learnt, like moab, gobbet and scout. 

 I thought it extraordinarily luxurious to be in a place where people had no obligation other than to study what they chose; it was certainly an extreme contrast with my life until then, in an isolated close knit Norfolk village where agriculture was all, and where academic work was seen as just reading.

 I think we knew at the time how lucky we were to be taught by Mollie Gerard Davis, Sheila Browne and Barbara Levick. I remember clearly winter afternoons in Mrs. G. D’s room, overlooking the garden and river, watching mesmerised as she lit another cigarette from a spill of paper which she stuck into the electric fire, and appreciating the skill with which she drew themes and arguments from our often pathetic essay offerings. I had expected academic challenge and opportunity from Oxford.  I did not know then that the close friendships I made in those three years would last for another fifty.