Skip To Main Content

Chichele Essay sets boys the task of examining meaning of ‘Truth’

Cameron Tilley (Sc5) is the winner of the School’s 2022 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 boys to sit the Chichele Essay during the Summer Term. The competition takes the traditional form of an essay written in exam conditions, with a one-word title not disclosed in advance. 

This year’s examiner was Professor Simon Blackburn, with the chosen title being ‘Truth’.

Professor Blackburn, a philosopher known for his work in metaethics and the philosophy of language, has taught at both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

He is the author of numerous books on philosophy, most recently On Truth (2018), and has appeared in multiple episodes of the documentary series Closer to Truth.

The winner was announced in a ceremony at the School, attended by the Headmaster, parents, staff and governors, on Friday (1 July). Of Cameron’s essay, Professor Blackburn said: “He displayed a good understanding of philosophy, mentioning among others G.E.Moore and A.J.Ayer, and showed a judicious grasp of the whole problem area (of truth)”.

Several other entrants earned praise for their essays. “I would like to mention Eddie Adams (OH5), who coined the nice phrase, the “weaponization of truth”; Toby Venton (WH5), who pleasantly brought his first-person experience of detecting old coins into the picture; and Jamie Lambert (Sc5), whose knowledge of literary criticism and literary theory struck me as quite extraordinary,” Professor Blackburn added.

Cameron’s winning essay can be read via the link, as can the examiner’s report on the competition.

The Chichele Essay prize is generously endowed by All Souls College, with the All Souls Examiner appointed annually by the School governors to comment on the essays submitted and to select the winner.

Pictured above: Cameron with Professor Blackburn. Below, some of the Chichele Essay entrants.