Woke Alert: Painting of black servant is taken down from college wall

Woke Alert: Painting of black servant is taken down from college wall

In a history spanning very nearly 700 years, it has educated many lively and sometimes brilliant minds – including those of Elizabethan adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh and the late, Left-wing historian AJP Taylor. But has Oriel College, Oxford, now been reduced to abject timidity by the 'woke' warriors of the 21st century?

That's the conclusion of one its graduates who says that a magnificent portrait of an 18th century alumnus, the 5th Duke of Beaufort, has been 'secretly removed' from the college and now hangs at Badminton House, the splendid Gloucestershire seat of the 12th Duke, known to friends as 'Bunter'.

The portrait shows his forebear as a substantial figure in powdered wig and ermine robes – with a smaller figure in the background.

'It's of a black page boy or servant. That's why it had to be banished – in case it offended a student,' alleges the critic, adding derisively: 'it's a fine way to treat one of Oriel's great benefactors, the first to endow scholarships for poor scholars since the Middle Ages'.

Oriel acknowledges that the portrait has been 'loaned to Badminton House for safekeeping' but apparently that the decision was prompted solely by 'the extensive renovation of our Senior Library where the painting is normally hung'. It will, the college insists, return to Oriel once the renovation is complete.