William Spooner (22nd July 1844 to 29th August 1930)


Here I am in a quaint cemetery in Grasmere in the Lake District and it’s a pity the dead can’t see as the surrounding it’s beautiful. William is buried here and as you enter the small cemetery you’re pretty much over his bones. He was the kind of Oxford University don that is suddenly found dead having fallen from a high open window in an Inspector Morse novel. He was at New College at Oxford University for over sixty years, was a deacon of the Church Of England and priest.


Despite distinguished dutiful decades at Oxford University he’s forever in the Oxford Dictionary. A “Spoonersim” is used to describe a mix-up of words (some are listed below.) Though he lies in Grasmere in the Lake District he was born in Grosvenor Place in London He attended Oxford as a teen, was an ordained deacon in the Church of England aged 28 and a priest by 31. He never really left New College at Oxford University for over six decades as fellow, lecturer, tutor, dean and warden. This bright old duffer had a brain - lecturing on ancient history, divinity and philosophy – and also a working willy that helped produce five children.


After decades of devoting himself to the college he retired in 1924, died at 86 and lies here surrounded by Grassmere’s beauty. In Winderemere there's a road named after him - "Spooner Vale" which I had to find.


• At a wedding: "It's kisstomary to cuss the bride." (It's customary to kiss the bride.)

• "Go and shake a tower" (Go and take a shower).

  Can I sew you to another sheet?" (Can I show you to another seat?)

• "Blushing crow" (Crushing blow.)

• "The Lord is a shoving leopard" (Loving shepherd).

• "A well-boiled icicle" (Well-oiled bicycle.")

• "I have in my bosom a half-warmed fish" (half-formed wish).

• "A toast to our queer old dean" (A toast to out dear old Queen.)

• "Is the bean dizzy?" (Is the Dean busy?")

• When our boys come home from France, we will have the hags flung out (flags hung out.)

• "Such Bulgarians should be vanished..." (Such vulgarians should be banished).

• "You have tasted a whole worm" (you have wasted a whole term.)

• "The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer."












Somewhere near Grasmere (probably, can’t just remember)…