Alex Johnson (FH5) is the winner of Tonbridge School’s 2021 Chichele Essay prize.
Named after Henry Chichele (1363-1443), Archbishop of Canterbury and Founder of All Souls College Oxford, the prestigious prize was established more than 50 years ago by John Sparrow, Warden of Souls between 1952 and 1977 and a member of the Skinners’ Company.
Each year the School asks a selection of Upper Sixth Formers to sit the Chichele Essay. The competition is generously endowed by All Souls College and takes the traditional form of an essay written in examination conditions, with a one-word title not disclosed in advance.
The All Souls Examiner is appointed annually by the school governors to comment on the essays submitted and to select the winner. This year’s Examiner is Dr Patricia Fara, who is Emeritus Fellow and a Historian of Science at Clare College, Cambridge, and former Fellow of Darwin College.
The author of numerous popular books on the history of science, Dr Fara’s most recent title, Science: A Four Thousand Year History, was written in response to the question: How has science come to dominate modern society?
Dr Fara chose the word ‘Memory’ for the competition, and announced the winner of the Chichele Essay Prize in a ceremony at the School, attended by the Headmaster and School governors, on Friday 2 July. “I learnt an enormous amount from these essays, enjoyed reading every single one and I offer congratulations to everyone,” she said.
Regarding Alex’s winning entry, Dr Fara wrote: “The author also considered the converse of memory (amnesia), the pain of traumatic memories and the value of learning from the past. And instead of closing down the argument, his final paragraph opened up further questions by directly challenging me, the reader, to consider what role bad memories play in my own identity.
“This deceptively straightforward essay was unpretentious, accessible and slightly quirky, but skilfully crafted to cover a lot of material.”
Pictured above: Alex with Dr Fara. Below, James Priory, Tonbridge's Headmaster, during the presentation ceremony.