We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Trevelyan College

Trevelyan News


(7 August 2012)

Joan Bernard, founding Principal of Trevelyan College (1966-1978), was a remarkable polymath and distinguished scholar, whose penetrating intellect, impeccable courtesy and kindliness of spirit inspired those who served with her, studied with her, and attempted to follow in her footsteps. She died on 1st August after a long period of declining health that she endured bravely, cheerfully and with characteristic indomitability of spirit. All who knew her are saddened at the loss of someone who so fully embodied the Collegiate spirit, and who until her death regarded Trevelyan College with devoted affection.

A graduate of St Anne’s College, Oxford, and King’s College, London, Joan joined Durham in 1966 from King’s where she had been tutor in theology, and Warden of Canterbury Hall. Prior professional roles included wartime work with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, serving at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in the latter stages of the war and, at war’s end, with the National Coal Board and the Women’s Institute. Remarkably, a suggestion of hers whilst at SHAEF was taken up by Eisenhower’s staff and led to tactical innovations in the defence against the V1 and V2 rockets. No less remarkably, but entirely fittingly, she is as a result twice mentioned by name in the official history of the NASA Saturn V rocket – probably the only theologian to feature there!

A lifelong musician, she was a founding member of the London Choral Society serving for many years as its Secretary. She was also influential in scholarship concerning the modern edition of Handel’s ‘Messiah’. Joan was a devoted adherent of, and worshipper at, Southwark Cathedral within whose diocese she lived contentedly for the last thirty years of her life, renewing her links with King’s College as an elected Fellow, and becoming an active member of the national structure of the Church of England and serving as Bishop’s examining Chaplain in the diocese of Southwark. Her funeral will take place in Southwark Cathedral on 30th August.

HME (August 2012)