It is hard to believe that as recently as the 1960s an undergraduate could be sent down (ie, permanently expelled) if a woman was found in his rooms after midnight. We know of one courting couple in the first half of the 20th Century, he based at Trinity and she in lodgings above Broad Canvas on the other side of Broad Street. Trinity locked its gates on the last stroke of midnight, and they knew that if they parted on the first stroke he could just get back in through the gates in time.
Stories abound of adventures had while climbing into – or out of – college after hours. It was considered especially daring for a man to have a bath in a women's college, and it was reputed that anyone who had achieved this with impunity was allowed to wear a navy blue tie emblazoned with silvertaps. If he could also produce the bath taps themselves, he was entitled to gold taps on the tie. Now, alas, with mixed colleges, such escapades have lost their spice.
Up to about 30 years ago, the majority of dons were in Holy Orders, Latin was a compulsory entrance subject for all disciplines, and daily attendance at morning chapel was required from all those living in College, even the non-Christians (who signed a register at the door). The main object seems to have been to ensure that everyone got up, rather than providing the Chaplain with an audience.
University rules which operated until well after the Second World War include the following:
- All undergraduates' cars carried green identification lights, were not permitted to be parked in the streets overnight, and were not allowed to be used in the mornings. (In the 1960s, however, undergraduates were not allowed to keep cars at all.)
- No undergraduates were allowed into pubs.
- Written proctorial permission was required for all dances (the Proctors are responsible for discipline within the University; the way round this was to have a 'Social Evening' with the dancing interrupted for a statutory proctorial game of 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey' or such).
- Dancing teachers had to be licensed by the University.
- Undergraduates found out of college after midnight (or 10.00pm in some cases) were fined.
- Undergraduates were not allowed to travel more than 10 miles from Oxford without permission.