No. 187

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  January 2015


Rev. Philip Bryan (M 77-06).

Patrick Bryan (SH 82-89) and Chris Robson (M 68-99) write:

Many Old St Beghians will be very sad to hear of the death of Philip Bryan on September 20th last year. Philip and Rhoda had been on holiday in Corfu when he suffered a heart attack while swimming in the sea.
Philip was chaplain to St Bees School and vicar of the parish for 29 years so he was well-known by and served a complete generation of pupils.

He was born in 1940 in Wolverhampton and was always proud of the place and their football team. Educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School, he went on to study classics at Durham University where he also developed his love of rowing. He started his teaching career in the Wirral and later, after marrying Rhoda, they moved to Macclesfield where Patrick and Rosie were born. It was here that Philip sensed God’s call to the ministry and he trained in Oxford before becoming curate at St Michael’s in Macclesfield. It was in 1977 that the family moved to St Bees and I remember comments made by the vicar of St Michael’s at Philip’s induction service in the Priory. As well as saying that St Bees gain was their loss, he said that he, personally, would be very unhappy to see Philip leave because he was so useful to him. At this point there was a long pause. He went on, “Philip knows everybody’s name and telephone number and I shall now be forced to use a directory”. Philip certainly understood the power of the name, naming people at the Communion rail and in conversation and therefore making pupils and all he came in contact with feel special.
One of the television programmes that he enjoyed watching was Columbo, the detective from LA, whose bumbling style and messy attire disguised a sharp mind. Perhaps there is some similarity there, although when Philip made his rare appearances at the top of the Science block, it seemed he always had a rolled-up map of the Middle East under his arm.

Philip Bryan Speech Day 2006
Rev. Philip Bryan and his wife, Rhoda,
outside The Priory on Speech Day in 2006.

He would, I suspect, have agreed that he was not a dynamic teacher and his lessons at times were slightly chaotic, but his love of history, antiquity, beautiful places and especially people shone through. Philip was a delightful colleague with a nice sense of humour, always ready to laugh at himself, but on occasions (and when it was required) he could be very determined.
He was a lovely man, a sentence that appears in different forms in nearly all the comments written in the Book of Condolence that has been in St Bees Priory for the last few weeks. It will also be in the minds of the many pupils with whom Philip had dealings. It has been said “Philip was very careful not to criticise people. He would not initiate criticism nor would he allow it to carry on. He would just say that each person is special to God.”
After leaving St Bees in 2006, Philip and Rhoda settled in Whitehead in Northern Ireland where he was an active member of the ministry team there. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rhoda and the family over the coming months.




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