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  • Writer's pictureWF Flemington

Mr Flew

After the two Assistant Tutors, (Harold Roberts, 1924-1926, and William Pearson Baker, 1926-1927), it was thought that the time had come for the appointment of a second full tutor. The original nomination of the Governors and of the Committee of the Theological Institution (the old Wesleyan name for what later became the Ministerial Training Committee) was of the Revd W. Bardsley Brash. This nomination was approved by the Representative Session of the Bradford Conference of 1927, but later, from the floor of the Pastoral Session, the proposal was made to send the Revd R Newton Flew to Cambridge, and this pastoral resolution carried the day.* It was clearly the right choice. Mr Flew (as he then was), a former postmaster of Merton College, Oxford, after reading Classical Honour Moderations (in which he gained a First Class) and Litterae Humaniores, had taken another First in the Theology School under the tutorship of Richard Brook**, one of the ‘Seven Oxford Men’ who had contributed to Foundations (1912). Flew had also studied at two continental universities.

When he came to Cambridge in 1927, having taken his Oxford BD he became a member of Trinity Hall, and received a Cambridge BD by incorporation. In 1930 he was awarded the Oxford DD by examination of a thesis (which was published in 1934 by the Oxford University Press as The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology). He received the degree in Oxford on 30 April 1930. (Previously on 13 March he and Mrs Flew had generously entertained the House to Tea in the Dining Hall in celebration.) Because, in Cambridge, university regulations allow the process of incorporation only once, Dr Flew (as he became) was always, as a BD by incorporation, officially termed Mr Flew in strict university parlance, even though, curiously in Cambridge, the BD degree ranks above the PhD.


*Mr Brash was appointed in the following year to Didsbury College (for which Mr Flew had been designated). Brash became Principal in 1939 and successfully superintended the transfer of Didsbury to Bristol.


**Ten years later, as Headmaster of Liverpool College, Richard Brook numbered WF Flemington among his sixth-form pupils. Thus there is a sense in which Brook may be said to have had, indirectly, a double influence upon Wesley House. He later became Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

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