Oxford Blues: the search for the origins of the lay bachelors' hood
By way of introduction to his discussion of the system of academic dress at the University of Oxford, Franklyn writes: "At the present day, although Oxford, Southampton, and Hull undoubtedly possess the most beautiful, dignified and stately academical dress in the world, there is nothing approaching a regular system, and the Oxford academical dress is the most illogical and unsystematic of all universities." One particular anomaly of the Oxford system, alluded to several times by Franklyn, is the use of blue silk hoods lined with fur for bachelors’ degrees in Civil Law and in Medicine (BCL and BM). How did two such different degrees come to be given the same hood? Why blue, which features nowhere in the corresponding doctors’ hoods? And why is the blue on the outside, instead of inside where a silk lining belongs? In this short paper, we examine these three questions and propose some hypotheses for further investigation.