Obituary: Louis ANTILL LEWIS

by
16 January 2015

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Margaret Holness writes:

LOUIS Antill Lewis, who died on 17 December, aged 82, was one of the best-known Anglo-Catholic laymen of his generation: Warden of the Guild of All Souls, Treasurer General of the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, and a generous benefactor to ecclesiastical and other charities.

Quite how, in the late 1940s, an unchurched young man of part-Russian heritage came to Holy Cross, King's Cross, a church founded in the Catholic Movement of the Church of England, is lost in the mists of history. But he was captivated by the worship, was encouraged by the parish priest, the Revd Napier Pitt Sturt, and by 1949 had become a member of the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary. He remained close to Holy Cross for the rest of his life, for many years as churchwarden, more recently as churchwarden emeritus.

The Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, a former Vicar of Holy Cross, said: "Holy Cross was Louis's 'home', where as a young man he received the Catholic faith. He repaid this gift with practical loyalty and wisdom, helping not only to ensure its survival, but its service to the most vulnerable of the neighbourhood."

Through the close association between Holy Cross and Walsingham, Louis developed a profound devotion to our Lady. In later years, he divided his time between homes in north London and Walsingham, where he unfailingly attended daily mass at the Shrine.

Louis was born in Islington in 1932, to an English mother, and a father from St Petersburg. He attended Felsted School, Essex. After National Service, during which he was commissioned in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, he trained as a chartered surveyor.

He used his professional expertise to build up a property-investment business, in paid posts that included running a successful housing association, and to help the several charities and trusts with which he was associated to increase their assets through the acquisition and disposal of property.

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Alongside his paid jobs, the last of which was chief executive of Hornsey YMCA, an establishment that included a large special-needs hostel for young people, Louis gave his time and skills to several charities and trusts, including the St Pancras Lands Trust, which makes grants to local organisations, including the churches.

In 2005, he helped to found, and remained a trustee of, the Holy Cross Centre Trust, which provides a daily shelter for homeless men and women in the crypt. He was for many years a JP and lay judge in central London. He was a Liveryman of the Glovers' and Glaziers' Companies, and a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks. He had also served on committees of London University. Through his various activities, he gave personal help, usually anonymously, to innumerable individuals.

Louis was nationally known in Catholic Anglican circles, particularly through his wardenship of the Guild of All Souls, the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, membership of the Nikaean Club, and, at one time, of the General Synod. As Warden of the Guild of All Souls, he remained on its influential ap- pointments committee up to his death.

A firm traditionalist, he was strongly opposed to the ordination of women, and to the consecration of women bishops. Ironically, his death occurred on the day the appointment of the first woman bishop in England was announced.

Physically a large man, Louis had a personality to match. Poor eyesight meant that he had never learned to drive, but his one personal indulgence was nice cars, chauffeur-driven. He would arrive at Anglo-Catholic events delivered to the door, often in a Bentley. The car would re-appear the moment he was ready to leave. The most recent trip of this kind was to Oxford in November, for the mass to mark the centenary of the opening of the Chapel of the Resurrection at Pusey House.

But perhaps Louis was happiest at home at Holy Cross, where, until very recently, Sunday mass was followed by tea, toast, and marmalade in the crypt. There, Louis would settle down with his toast, catch up with the gossip, and perhaps offer an acerbic comment if anything untraditional had slipped into the mass, or if he had read something of which he disapproved in the Church Times. There he was among people he loved, and who loved him without exception.

Unmarried, Louis had, since childhood, been devoted to his younger sister, Daphne, and later to her family. Daphne died in 2013. He is survived by his nephew Marc Giraudon, his great-niece, Sophie, and a brother, Eric.

His funeral at Holy Cross at noon tomorrow will include a requiem mass. A memorial service will be held at a later date in Walsingham.

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