Doodles and accounts

Doodles and accounts

The doodles you make during a meeting are supposed to provide an insight into your personality. These drawings come from a set of accounts dating from 1929-1933 and all seem to have been drawn by one man: Canon Alexander Nairne (1921-1936).

There are several different themes to the drawings, including landscapes and architecture:

Pencil drawing of a Romanesque arch

Pencil drawing of a view of Windsor castle surrounded by trees

People (this possible plague doctor and Shakespeare):

Pencil drawing of a man with a large hat, crook, long coat and a pointy nose

Pencil drawing of a man’s head with a moustache and beard, ruff, and a bald head

And heraldry. These accounts had already been audited, and were then produced at a Chapter meeting, held the in the Chapter Room. Some of them even have speeches from the Canon Treasurer tucked inside, which he would have read out to the other canons, usually explaining that, once again, they were short of money. Perhaps during these speeches Canon Nairne’s attention wandered and he began sketching the stained glass opposite him, which depicted canons’ coats of arms. His own arms were inserted into the window in 1923, although he has not drawn these. One of his letters show what they looked like:

Drawing in black ink of a coat of arms. on the left (dexter) is a cross with a book at its centre and a bird in each corner; on the right (sinister) is a half-black, half-white wreath.

Nairne was also Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis at King’s College London 1900-17 and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, 1922-32. Born in 1863 and died in 1932, he wrote many works about the Bible, including ‘The Little Children’s Bible’, together with Arthur Quiller-Couch (published 1924). There are hints of this in his doodles too, as he has transliterated some of his colleagues’ names into Greek under their coats of arms:

Pencil coat of arms over some school accounts, with a lion in the middle and ‘Proby’ written at the bottom, alongside πρωβειος

And written out the opening of the Gospel of John in Greek (ἐν ἀρχῃ  ἠν ὁ λογος, και ὁ λογος ἠν προς τον θεον, και θεος ἠν ὁ λογος/ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God). There is also a hillside labelled εὐαγγελιον (Gospel). The motto L’espérance me comfort’ (Hope comforts me) was the Nairne family motto:

Pencil drawing of a hillside labelled εὐαγγελιον (Gospel) with heraldic lions around, a knight’s crest, the word ‘Gallus’ and the motto ‘L’espérance me comfort’ (Hope comforts me) and the Greek opening to the Gospel of John.

Finally, we have an insight into his thoughts through the classical quotes that he wrote:

placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum/heaven grows peaceful glows with outpoured light (Lucretius 1.9)

Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine cunctos/I know not by what sweetness our native soil [draws] all of us (Ovid, Ex Ponto 1.3.35)

sunt igitur solida primordia simplicitate/the first-beginnings are therefore of solid singleness (Lucretius 1.548/609).

Anne Courtney, Assistant Archivist

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.