Kenneth Shenton writes:
CANON David Galilee, who died on 16 January, aged 77, was very
much the life and soul of Blackburn Cathedral during his nine years
as Canon Chancellor. He always joked that his main claim to fame
lay in his short spell teaching at a Hertfordshire preparatory
school, where one of his pupils was Harry Philby, son of the spy
A native of Norton-on-Tees in County Durham, George David
Surtees Galilee spent his formative years as boarder at Durham
School. From there, his prodigious talents took him to Oriel
College, Oxford, where he read Theology. In the interim, however,
he spent the summer months teaching at Beaumont House Preparatory
School in Hertfordshire. In 1961, he moved to Westcott House,
Cambridge, to train for the ministry.
For five years, between 1962 and 1967, he served as an Assistant
Curate at St Mary's, Knighton, in Leicestershire, before becoming
Vicar of St Luke's, Stocking Farm. In 1969, he returned to
Cambridge, as a tutor at Westcott House and with a similar position
at Homerton College. Two years later, seeking further parochial
experience, he became Vicar of St Andrew's, Sutton, on the Isle of
From 1980, his outlook found a particularly happy and expressive
outlet during almost 15 years at St Mildred's, Addiscombe. This
large parish in south London, with an outstanding musical
tradition, then served as the parish church for the Royal School of
Church Music, during its years based at Addington Palace near by.
Each year, without fail, the parish would decamp to Westminster
Cathedral, where its talented choir would help at an evening
Disaster struck St Mildred's on 6 November 1985, however, when
fire destroyed, of its two instruments, the organ housed in the
east end gallery. Providentially, the rest of the building suffered
only superficial smoke damage. A passionate music-lover himself,
nurtured on the celebrated Bach recordings of the great German
organist Helmut Walcha, Galilee enthusiastically led the
refurbishment plans. His task, as he then saw it, was to deliver a
new instrument that would add a vital new dimension to the work of
By Easter 1988, careful planning and enthusiastic fund-raising
had happily brough the church restoration to its former glory. In a
newly constructed east-end gallery was a brand-new ten-stop
mechanical-action two-manual organ, built by N. P. Mander, and
opened in some style by Peter Hurford. Courtesy of much imaginative
thinking, St Mildred's, in common with many of the finest churches
in Paris, had come up with an unusual and ingenious solution.
Retaining different functions, its two instruments, one at the east
end and one at the west, now shared a single console.
In 1995, Galilee moved north, to become Canon Chancellor of
Blackburn Cathedral. In many ways a contrast to his previous
parish, here the cathedral is situated right at the heart of the
former industrial mill town, its population then, as now, an
ethnically diverse mix. While there, his background meant that he
also took a strong interest in education throughout the diocese,
which has one of the largest concentrations of church schools in
Bringing method, reliability, and humour to the life and
administration of the cathedral, Galilee ensured that its worship
was always of the highest order. For him, services always had to be
informed by theological insight, sensitivity of language, and
appropriateness to the occasion, be it a great civic occasion or a
simple act of devotion for a smaller gathering of pilgrims. His
scholarly outlook also took particular delight in leading the
Bishop's annual reading week for clergy, held in January of each
year, amid the splendour of St Deiniol's Library, Hawarden.
Elected Canon Emeritus on stepping down from the cathedral in
2004, he remained throughout his retirement a familiar and popular
figure in the community. A fine preacher, he delivered the annual
Assheton Sermon in January 2012 in the village of Downham, near by.
It marked the 60th anniversary of his ordination.
He married Isobel Duncan in 1964; she died in 2006. A son and
two daughters survive him.