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02 November 2006

THE Revd David Nicholas Lockwood, who died on 9 March, aged 81, was brought up in Scarborough, where his mother was a librarian. He attended Drax Grammar School, but had to leave at 15 when his family went bankrupt.

After four years working as a gardener at the local nursery, he took a job as a librarian at Winchester. In 1948, he entered St David’s College, Lampeter, and graduated in English in 1951. He prepared for ordination at Queen’s College, Birmingham, and served his title at Halesowen.

In 1956, while he was there, he married Wilhelmina, a Dutch medical student whom he had met in Heidelberg in 1950. After a further curacy at Bewdley, he became, in 1960, Rector of Great and Little Witley, a rural parish with a spectacular Baroque church. There, he had time to write.

After four years, he moved to Hanley Castle and Hanley Swan, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills. He spent 17 years there, the longest part of his parochial ministry, having also the cure of Welland for the last two years. He enjoyed visiting parishioners, often on his bicycle. His sermons were concise, and often illustrated from his wide reading.

In April 1971, Helena, one of his three daughters, was killed in a road accident on her way back from school. That sorrow led to David’s writing Love and Let Go, which brought comfort to many families who had experienced similar anguish. Although the tragedy shook his faith in God deeply, he came out of it with a renewed sense of God in his life.

His love of literature led him to join the Kilvert Society in 1962. He became a vice-president in 1970. In 1973, he preached at the funeral of William Plomer, its president; in 1982, he joined its committee; and, in 1990, became its chairman. He was the obvious choice to become president in 1999.

He was always a kind and considerate colleague, and a very sound adviser. His counsel was articulated with his subtle and gentle sense of humour.

In 1969, through a member of the society, David bought two cottages in Llowes, right behind the church, and he and his wife gradually transformed them into a beautiful house. After obtaining, in 1981, an MA from Birmingham University for a thesis on Thomas Carlyle, he retired from his parishes to write, while his wife joined a local medical practice.

Many people take early retirement with the intention of writing, but never publish anything. Not so with David. In 1990 his full-length biography Francis Kilvert was published, followed two years later by Francis Kilvert, the Victorian. This was a selection of entries from Kilvert’s diary, including unpublished material from the surviving notebooks, arranged by years, with a perceptive introduction to each selection. He also wrote four volumes of poetry: Private View, Winter Wheat, Marked Papers, and The Coming of Age — the last appeared in February 2005.

David was a great traveller, and visited much of the world, including Japan. He walked the length of the Thames over three years. He loved antiques and his garden, and was no mean artist, as well being as a talented letter-writer

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