*** DEBUG END ***

Richard Attenborough and Wyggy’s Crusaders

05 September 2014


From Dr John A. Florance
Sir, - The Revd Stephen Brown's tribute to Richard Attenborough (Comment, 29 August) is right, I am sure, about the great director and actor's mistrust of organised religion. As a producer and presenter at BBC Radio Leicester, I met and interviewed him many times. In 2007, I asked him about his religious affiliations, and for once he was a little hesitant. But here, in part, is his answer.

"I'm not a religious character, I'm afraid. I'm apprehensive as far as religion is concerned. I feel that in the name of the great religious figures the most terrible things have been wrought. . . That I find very distressing. I am not a sacrilegious person. I dislike very much the ridicule and derision and antagonism created by some forms of religious belief. . . I'm a mess as far as religion is concerned."

Having said that, he went on to say that he considered Shadowlands was his best picture as a director. This might seem slightly odd. But at one time Lord Attenborough knew Christianity from the inside.

A friend of mine, Glyn Haines, tells me that his cousin, Malcolm Rowland, was Richard's contemporary at Wyggeston Boys' School, Leicester. "While at Wyggy Malcolm led a group of Crusaders in the school. When he was about to leave he was given a Book of Common Prayer and Hymns A&M. Inside is written 'To Malcolm J. Rowland with best wishes for the ensuing years. From two of his converts Richard and Arthur, Christmas 1940.' 'Richard' is indeed Richard Attenborough, and I understand 'Arthur' became an Anglican priest, later at St Mary's in Melton Mowbray."

It is possible that Lord Attenborough came to know of C. S. Lewis through his involvement with the Crusaders, and that Shadowlands was the fruit of that experience.

19 Sweetbriar Road
Leicester LE31AP

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)