DIGNITARIES of Oxford University paraded through the city centre yesterday as part of the historic Encaenia ceremony for honorary degrees.

Among this year’s recipients were Man Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, heart surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub and award-winning opera singer Jessye Norman. For Encaenia – Greek for “renewal” – heads of colleges and senior university figures walked from Exeter College to the Sheldonian Theatre, in Broad Street, where it has been held since the 17th century.

Beforehand they enjoyed peaches, strawberries and Champagne, a traditional benefaction from Nathaniel, Lord Crewe (1633-1721), former Bishop of Oxford and Bishop of Durham.

Inside the theatre, proceedings were opened by university Chancellor Lord Patten and those to be honoured were given their degrees.