Dr James (Jim) Daniel CO60 boarded at Truro School between 1950 and 1960, starting at Treliske Prep before moving up to the senior school in 1951. Jim later became Head Boy whilst in his third year of Sixth Form. After school Jim went on to study German and French at the University of Oxford, before starting his career. Jim now lives in Penzance with his wife of 56 years, Jenny. Jim shared with us his memories of Truro School and what he did on leaving school.
My family’s connection with Truro College, later Truro School, goes back to a few years after the 1914-18 war when my uncle, J.C. Bedford Daniel CO30, started there as a pupil. He sent his sons, Tony CO58, Tim CO64, Christopher CO71 and David CO72, to Truro and later served as Chairman of Governors in the 1970s. My cousin, John Daniel CO49 boarded there in the 1940s and then read Modern Languages at Oxford. My parents hoped I would follow in his footsteps and so delivered me from St Ives to board at Treliske in 1950. Decades later Jenny and I sent our children, James CO85 and Tamsin CO88 to the school as boarders while we were abroad.
Today it seems strange that I did not see my parents or St Ives again until the first half-term break from Treliske. I survived an early bout of bullying in the dormitory and being ostracized from the already ‘in’ group. Useless at soccer and cricket and under-stretched in class I nevertheless got on well with Mr Stratton (TS 1927-1961) the headmaster, and with Mr Newton (TS 1949-1954), the music teacher, to both of whom I owed the ease with which I settled in at the senior school a year later.
My first housemaster, at Pentreve, was Mr Tonkin CO32 (TS 1937-1978). I remember him well and stayed in touch with him after I left school. Barry, or ‘Boozy’, Worthington (TS 1941-1968) presided over us at Malvern, and Mr James (TS 1942-1971) at Epworth. I quickly demonstrated a lack of ability in the sciences and instead concentrated on English (under Mr Bert Willday (TS 1921-1960)), French (Mr Laupretre (TS 1953-1992)), German and Spanish (Mr Freddie Wilkes (TS 1935-1974)) and History.
I still had friends from St Ives with me: Alan Quick CO60 (later an architect, I believe), Lewis Gyles CO60 (later Captain of the Shell tanker fleet) and Michael Warner CO59 (who became a Canon of Truro Cathedral). I played the cornet in the band under Mr Moore (TS 1954-1974) of St Agnes Silver; earned favours as Tuck Shop and later Library assistant; visited Lascaux with Mr Taylor (TS 1954-1990); enjoyed dancing lessons – with girls from Truro High – in the gym above the Chapel; acted in a school play (as Colin Allan’s CO60 back legs in Alfred the Horse in Toad of Toad Hall); and spent half a year at a school in Germany. As Head Prefect in 1959/60 I helped Mr Burrell (TS Headmaster 1959-1986) through his first year and welcomed Mr George Thomas (later Mr Speaker Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy) to the Speech Day in 1960.
At Oxford (1960-64) I stayed in touch with my dayboy contemporary, John Heath CO60 (later Chair of the Governors), but otherwise gradually lost contact with the school. Studying the Enlightenment period, I became interested in Freemasonry, about which I knew little except that Truro School Lodge was mentioned in the school calendar. Curious to learn more, I joined Apollo University Lodge and have never regretted it. The ‘Craft’ widened my contacts and friendships while serving as a British Council officer and/or Cultural Attaché in Kuwait, Germany, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and the USA between 1964 and 1989.
I left the foreign service in 1989, having unexpectedly been recruited from the Washington embassy to become the CEO of a branch of English Freemasonry, at ‘half the salary but twice the enjoyment’, as my proposer put it. In 1998 I was recommended to and appointed by HRH The Duke of Kent, the Grand Master, as the ‘Grand Secretary’ (i.e., the national CEO) of the Grand Lodge of England itself (est. 1717), comprising some 300,000 members in about 8,000 lodges in England, Wales and many Commonwealth countries overseas. The international project I initiated, ‘Freemasonry in the Community’, culminated in a celebration in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2002. Of that career I particularly remember: sitting in Lodge with two Anglican Metropolitan Archbishops; kosher dining with the Lodge of Israel; conferring with the leaders of women’s freemasonry; addressing an audience of several thousand men and women (including members of the Royal Family) in the Royal Albert Hall on the history of Freemasonry; and displaying the copy of the Koran which the Amir of Afghanistan held when he was initiated in Calcutta in 1907 by Lord Kitchener – an event which reportedly helped cement ‘a short peace between Afghanistan and Great Britain’.
I was awarded a doctorate by Sheffield University for my thesis on ‘The 4th Earl of Carnarvon and Freemasonry in the British Empire’ in 2010 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I attended Truro School Lodge in 2011, meeting in the Burrell Theatre, to deliver my paper on ‘Truro: Cathedral, School and Lodge’ to members of the Federation of School Lodges. The paper’s connecting thread was Freemasonry: HRH The Prince of Wales, as Grand Master, laid the Cathedral’s foundation stones in 1880; Dr Magson (TS Headmaster 1921-1946) was appointed Headmaster of the school in 1921 while Master of Epworth Lodge; the Rev Dr J W Hunkin (TS 1896-1903), an Old Truronian of the school and member of Alma Mater Lodge, was installed as Bishop of Truro in 1935 and dedicated a bay of the Cathedral’s cloisters (which Cornish Freemasons had funded) ‘to preserve in memory the happy and honourable association of our Craft and the building of this Temple of God.’ He and Dr Magson founded Truro School Lodge in 1936, serving respectively as its first Chaplain and Master. In my research for the paper, I discovered that my three favourite masters at Truro; Mr Stratton, Mr Tonkin and Mr Wilkes, had been members of the lodge. I remain in touch with it, most recently via Old Truronian Peter Greenslade CO66. He somewhat ruefully remembered me as Head Prefect when I went to the Lizard to thank the lifeboat crew for their help in a sailing incident, only to discover that he (the RNLI’s local secretary) and two members of the crew were also Freemasons. It’s a small world.
Mar 16th 2023
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