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Daughter ends tradition of Algernon and sons; School's new head continues long line of Grenfells in charge.

Byline: Stuart Dye

HISTORY echoes throughout Mostyn House School from the foundations of its black and white timberwork buildings to the faded portraits of past headmasters and pupils on inner walls.

But a new and significant chapter in the history is about to be written.

Headmaster Julian Grenfell has announced his retirement and is to hand over the reins to his eldest daughter, Suzi.

Suzi will become the sixth generation of the Grenfell family to hold the position - a record thought to be unrivalled in the UK.

She will also be the first woman to become headteacher at the private school, which is based in Parkgate, and she will be the first Grenfell to head the school whose first name is not Algernon.

Ms Grenfell last night said: "I'm very excited about taking over a school with such a proud heritage in our family.

"I will lead the school into its 150th anniversary celebrations in 2004, and I'm delighted that dad will be staying on as principal in an advisory role to help organise the landmark anniversary."

Algernon Daryl Julian Grenfell will retire at the end of the summer term after turning 65 in February.

He took over as headmaster in 1964 when he was just 27. It has been the period of greatest change in the school's history since the 1890s.

Mr Grenfell has guided the school through its transition from a traditional boarding prep school to a successful co-educational day school with sixth form and nursery for younger children.

And Mr Grenfell still leads the school chapel services as his father and grandfather before him.

"It has been an amazing spell. Not only have there been mammoth changes in education, the school was also hit by the recession of the 80s.

"It's been a tremendous experience, but I decided, with the help of my wife, that it was time to retire.

"Besides, to keep Suzi waiting any longer would have been unfair, " he said.

Mostyn House began life as a small school in Tarvin in 1854 with the Rev Edward Price as headmaster.

When Lord Mostyn decided to sell his family's land in Parkgate, Rev Price bought it for bigger premises and moved the school to its current site in 1855.

His nephew, the Rev Algernon Sidney Grenfell, took over the school seven years later and held the post for 20 years before leaving former pupil William Barrett in charge for a temporary period.

Two of Algernon Sidney's sons were to lead extraordinary lives. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell became a world-famous missionary doctor and was knighted for his work in Labrador, Canada.

Meanwhile, Algernon George Grenfell, or AG as he was known, became one of the foremost educationalists of his time. He became head at Mostyn House in 1890 and spent more than 40 years transforming the school.

He introduced educational innovations which are still used today and built the chapel, dining room, the old swimming pool, covered playground, changing room block, tearoom and four-storey block on Parkgate front.

He extended the cottage and gave parts of the school their now famous black and white exterior.

AG was succeeded by his son, Algernon Marshall Daryl Grenfell, who continued his father's work, expanding and modernising the school and keeping it running through World War II - even building an air raid shelter under the playing fields.

When Daryl died in 1964, he was succeeded by today's headmaster, Algernon Daryl Julian Grenfell.

Mostyn House School is not the only common thread to run through the Grenfell family history.

Whilst AG was a celebrated Oxford academic, Wilfred got a rugby blue at the university.

Daryl was in the first rowing eight squad at Oxford and Julian was in the 2nd tennis six.

It is a tradition Suzi kept up as she gained two half-blues for shooting at Oxford and sport remains as important today at Mostyn House as it did in the 19th century.

Suzanna Mary Tracy Grenfell, the eldest of Mr Grenfell's three daughters, brings a range of experience having previously taught at Brighton College in Sussex and Kenton College in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, she will be able to rely on her father's advice as he stays on as principal to help with the business side of the school and organise the anniversary celebrations.

It is another first for the school steeped in tradition as the father and daughter form a partnership for a new era.


OVER TO YOU: Headmaster Julian Grenfell and daughter Suzi, who will follow in his footsteps, outside Mostyn House school, Parkgate
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2002
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