THE Revd Philip Paul Stanley Brownless, who died on 7 September,
aged 95, enjoyed a varied life, and his conversation was strewn
with anecdotes from mule-training to sailing adventures. Committed
to serving God from boyhood, he was ordained in 1948, the same year
as he married Isla Forbes, and moved to a large working-class
parish in Southend-on-Sea.
During the Second World War, Philip had served in the North
African desert, and behind enemy lines in the Far East, before
completing his theological training at Ridley College,
In 1954, in his early thirties, he moved into education, with
the encouragement of his bishop and his archdeacon, subsequently
becoming headmaster of a boys' preparatory school, Lambrook - a
superb match for Philip and Isla's combined abilities and spiritual
wisdom. Lambrook flourished under their leadership.
In 1971, Philip went back into parish life as Rector of
Heckfield, Mattingley, and, in due course, Rotherwick in Hampshire,
uniting all three parishes seamlessly under one PCC. A healing
ministry started, ecumenical conversations took place across the
deanery, and Lent courses in church grew with lively congregational
discussion and questions. The rural ministry became a subject that
he spoke on at clergy conferences in the 1970s and '80s.
Retiring to Birdham at 65, Philip and Isla were to find much
work ahead of them. With an Evangelical background, Philip got
involved with whatever he could across the Chichester diocese, and
healing services took place in the cathedral. Alpha courses were
started, often in the couple's home; parishes near by found his
support both in front of and behind scenes invaluable; and at
various points he effectively ran two or three parishes.
Philip and Isla continued to sail to Holland every summer, come
rain or shine, and were fully involved in local life, be it the
arts group, music in church, lecturing at the yacht club, and
woodwork. Tea parties, lunch parties, dinner parties - all happened
at the Hornpipe, their retirement house; laughter ricocheted around
the walls; there was always "something going on". Meanwhile,
Philip's wartime memories were recorded and used, often in their
entirety (together with Isla's superb proof-reading), by a military
historian, Robert Lyman.
But a huge task was waiting just around the corner:
reconciliation with Japanese veterans from the Second World War.
With the Burma Campaign Fellowship Group, he visited both Japan and
Nagaland (in north-east India), together with other veterans in
their eighties and nineties. They hugely enjoyed friendships with
veterans from the UK, Japan, and Nagaland, and also forged links
with others of different mindsets back in the UK.
A stroke in 2002 curtailed Philip's sailing and driving, but not
the gardening, the involvement in parish life, the reading, the
daily walks around the yacht harbour, and the parties. His ability
to relate to anyone, and to enjoy all contact with people, and his
desire to serve God in whatever way was open to him were paramount
until the day he died.
A thanksgiving service for Philip's life will be held at Birdham
Church, Chichester, on 21 October at 11 a.m.