In retrospect it always seems to be summer on the [Cherwell], and a fine day at that.
So said Jan Morris, and in these words she captures the peculiarly opalescent quality with which the river is remembered by those who have strolled her banks, plied her waters, or simply sat beside her of an evening, among the willows, listening to peals of bell-song drifting thinly across the meadows.
In contrast to the bigger and brasher Isis – a fat, grey artery criss-crossed with rowers, smacks, barges, litter, and the dark knowledge of London to the east – the Cherwell seems half-forgotten, like an overgrown afterthought carved quietly behind a handful of colleges who have colluded to keep her their secret. The dappled shade, the midges, the heron-priested banks, the punts tethered idly to mooring places, the angler silhouetted in mist: these memories continue to sparkle in the mind long after wet bottoms and lost paddles have been forgotten.
The Cherwell River is a symbol both of summer and of Wolfson. Cherwell Day is an occasion on which the college and university community celebrates its relationship with the river and with summer in the best way possible: by punting, playing croquet, drinking Pimms in the gardens, and sharing a well-cooked dinner. Wolfson isn’t yet a very old college, but it already has some fine traditions: Cherwell Day is among the finest.