*** DEBUG END ***

The Ven. Richard Gilpin

13 May 2016

The Rt Revd Hewlett Thompson writes:

THE Ven. Richard Gilpin died from prostate cancer on 1 May, aged 76, after a decade of retirement in his beloved Devon, where his life and ministry were spent. I choose three words to describe his time as archdeacon: calm, efficient, and humble. He knew the diocese of Exeter through and through, but never took on the post of defender of past traditions.

Three years at Lichfield Theological College equipped Richard to preach plain sermons, much appreciated in his long association with the cathedral, as Prebendary and, later, Sub Dean, a non-residentiary office held as a wise senior among the prebendaries.

The core of his ministry was 18 years as Vicar of Tavistock, the ancient Devon town 12 miles north of Plymouth. He had been curate there before a short incumbency outside Barnstaple. His quality was evident because Tavistock wanted him back, one of the last of Bishop Robert Mortimer’s appointments.

Twelve years later, on my first appearance at the church, the verger with rod and churchwardens with staves were standing to attention outside, and the congregation within was ready to rise to its feet. Richard wisely knew Tavistock’s need and was himself glad of the gentle push to greater informality which came from giving Joy, my wife, into the wardens’ hands, while I chatted my way up a side aisle with the verger.

A testing year for Richard and Marian came in 1990. Richard was needed to be Director of Ordinands and Adviser in Vocations, but, for a start, he had to combine that work with one more year at Tavistock to round off the succession of curates, whose training he had overseen.

They moved to Exeter, and Richard took smoothly to ministry from another viewpoint, a share in central diocesan responsibility. It was a time when changes were essential. Questionnaires were going out on ministry appraisal; Richard was on hand to collate replies and deliver their messages. He was in a helpful position as the elected chair of the House of Clergy.

The Totnes archdeaconry has one leg among the 100,000 people of Torbay, and the other rejoices in the rich valleys overshadowed by Dartmoor. The parishes were confident that their archdeacon and his wife cared. Their hospitality said that. The clergy knew Richard was of the parish-priest mould himself, and would present their situations to the diocesan leadership, clerical and lay.

At the news of his illness and death, I overflow with thanks that such a calm, efficient, and humble man was raised up for the work given him. Anglican spirituality and pastoral sensitivity were seen in one of their best manifestations in Richard Gilpin.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

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

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 

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.)