Alumni Profile – Philip Clayden (1995-1998)

30th November 2015

Philip Clayden read Philosophy & Theology at Blackfriars Hall between 1995 and 1998. Philip is a furniture maker concerned with eco building (visit his website) and is part of the Solid Art museum transformation team; you might remember his Regent’s Throne in the aula!

We caught up with him and asked him about his time at Blackfriars Hall.

How did you come to study at Blackfriars, Oxford?
I was received into the Catholic Church by Fr Denis Geraghty OP (1929-2012) in 1994. He suggested during my instruction that I should consider reading for a degree at Blackfriars. I was offered a place following an interview with Fr Brian Davies OP.

Tell us about your time at Blackfriars. 
Blackfriars was, and felt like, a new PPH in 1995. I was the second JCR president and therefore had an influence on developing its culture in the early days, with some of the first students. We created a lively and supportive atmosphere with many shared activities.

What have you been doing since your graduation?

I took an MSc in Land Management at Reading University, and worked in the property sector in London, then taught Philosophy A-Level and R.E. GCSE at an independent Catholic school. After this I created SolidArt, a furniture and design business, specialising in furnishing museums and public spaces. I continue with this (currently designing a new museum for Slough) and with a new business, Green Unit, which makes eco-buildings. My first eco-building commission is a new welcome centre for the University Arboretum. I am also building schools.

How did your time in Blackfriars influence the direction of your life?

My studies made me a better critical and analytical thinker.

What are your fondest memories?

The enjoyment of a studious and intellectual environment, with exciting conversations – especially over drinks with the friars. Herbert McCabe OP was particularly engaging and once became animated enough to spill a glass of wine over Clare Stuart, a fellow student and girlfriend at the time!

Have you kept in touch with fellow alumni?
I keep in touch with several alumni, two of whom are godfathers to my children. I have been involved with Alumni relations at Blackfriars and produced a magazine entitled The Aula between 2006 and 2008.

We are keen to hear from other alumni, so if you too would like to share your story, please get in touch with us.