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News & Publications > Obituaries > Terence Best (1929-2024)

Terence Best (1929-2024)

22 Jan 2024
Written by Karen Faulkner

The following notice was sent out to Old Brentwoods from Headmaster Michael Bond recently:

Terence Best, past Master, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, 9th January.

Terence was born on 27th December 1929. He attended Bournemouth Grammar School and graduated from Jesus College, Oxford, before joining Brentwood School in 1956, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. He was a Housemaster, Head of Languages and (we believe) the first ever Head of Sixth Form between 1989-90. He taught under three Heads, was a keen CCF Officer for many years, and led the 1957 400th anniversary CCF Parade.

Terence played the harpsichord and was an accomplished musician. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Halle for his work on Handel. Last year, I was delighted to meet him after he donated his harpsichord to the school and then came in with his cousin Judy for a visit and a recital.

Terence expressed a wish in his will that his funeral service take place in the School Chapel;  this was held on Monday 29th January with a number of Old Brentwoods in attendance . The funeral address, delivered by Rev. Adrian McConnaughie, is reproduced below:

Funeral address, Terence Best

Monday 29th January, 2024


“In Terence Best we had a schoolmaster who combined first class teaching with a strong pastoral interest..”

These words, written by Mr Mike Hall, Housemaster of School House, Chemistry teacher and Second Master, seem to take us, I believe, to the very essence of the man whose life we celebrate today.

I did not have the privilege of knowing Terence myself but the opportunities I have had over these last few weeks, in conversation with many of you, have given me something of a picture of Terence, or Terry, or Mr Best, or even ‘Monty’ and I thank you today for taking the time to share some of your reflections with me and indeed for making the journey back to your old School and Chapel as we give thanks for his life.

Education at its very best seeks, in my view, to nurture the individual. To develop a life-long thirst for knowledge and understanding alongside the fostering of those qualities which help us to see beyond ourselves and grasp the importance of that shared life in community. 

Terence arrived at Brentwood School in 1956 and quickly gained the reputation as an excellent classroom practitioner and educator.

In recent correspondence I received, I was struck by the number of times his inspiration and passion for languages was spoken of by his former pupils.

Whether you were a struggling linguist, something I could identify with, or someone with a flair for the subject, Terence seemed to inspire those in his charge to reach their potential and even, at times, to supercede it.

In 1962, Terence was invited to lead the department and during his time as Head of Department, the department not only expanded but seemed to flourish with, for example, the introduction of Italian and the development of a French Exchange program.

One former pupil recalls - “that even at that tender age, we could recognise a conscientious, committed and well-prepared teacher when we saw one”

But of course Terence’s wisdom and knowledge took him beyond the Modern Languages department.

Much has been said already about his musical knowledge and talent and it is clear that this too was something that he shared with pupils and colleagues alike - encouraging them to aspire to the very highest standards and I am pleased that his influence here at School remains, not least in the generous donation of his harpsichord which we have enjoyed today.

Teachers are called to nurture the individual and Terence’s role, both within the CCF and through his role as tutor and then Housemaster of East and finally his post as our first Head of Sixth Form, reveal a man who was not confined to classroom practice.

He may have been stern at times, but at heart many have spoken of his wisdom and his important sense of calm and the way in which he fostered harmony and participation, particularly within the House. 

No words, of course, can fully capture a life. Today we have heard some reflections and these, together with your own memories, will help to create a clearer picture of a life that was lived to the very full and one that we give thanks for today.

And the sheer number of former pupils who have been in touch with the School and with me directly, and who have travelled to be here today, is a lasting and visible tribute to a man who recognised his calling to nurture those within his care here at school.

In the Bible reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to his followers before he is arrested and seeks to reassure them.

He offers them hope at a time of crisis. He speaks of a place set aside for those who turn to him in faith - a place of welcome and rest in the presence of God.

In his oratorio, Messiah, Handel drew upon the words of the prophet Job and Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians who similarly spoke with confidence of their hope and faith in a life beyond this earthly moment.

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day Upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that Sleep. 

None of us know where the journey of life may take us each day but we too are called to be people of hope who place our faith in the One who has indeed risen and who leads us from death to life.

And so it is with hope in our hearts and faith in a God whose very essence is love and who has prepared a place for each of us, that we commend Terence to God’s mercy and His care.



We have received many warm messages from the OB community, sharing their memories of Terence, a very small selection of which can be viewed below. We will be collating these and creating a book of condolence to give to his family and a copy will also be available to view in the school museum, which will open in the coming months. Terence's obitiuary will be added to this page once it has been finalised.

Please continue to share your memories, either by emailing or commenting on the article  and we will ensure they are added to the book of condolence. 

"I was very sad to hear the news of Terry Best's passing. He played a crucial role in my life, and was in many ways a model for me"

"I remember Monty (as he was known) as an excellent modern languages teacher as well as being a really good human being. He had a passion for Rugby and introduced many boys (including yours truly) to the OBRFC"

"Terence Best was a huge influence on this shy, mawkish schoolboy, instilling my love of languages and effectively shaping my future.I would very much like to pay my respects on the 29th."

"He was an accomplished linguist, and despite his modesty, a gifted musician, erudite musical scholar and above all a really good educator. He had a great sense of humour, but also a quick temper and not slow to bring mischievous boys to heel.  He was in my humble opinion, not just a polymath, but a good all-round fellow: fair, honest and with an integrity rare enough in the day, perhaps even rarer now.  We were lucky to have known him and to have had him for a teacher"

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