The Revd Toddy Hoare writes: IN FELIXKIRK Church, in North Yorkshire, there was a medieval window of jumbled heraldry. In an idle moment, it was always a brain- teaser which bit of glass should really go where. When the quinquennial suggested that it should be re-leaded in the late 1980s, whom to approach but Peter Gibson (Obituary, 23/30 December) at the York Glaziers Trust?
There was a chance to rectify the damage of years, if not by Cromwell’s men. With a faculty, a grant was obtained from English Heritage, but when it stipulated that the glass had to be returned to the same place, supposedly to preserve the history of the window, Peter and I jibbed.
With the support of the PCC, we turned down the grant and, on Peter’s advice that we would restore and enhance the window, we applied successfully for another faculty and a grant from the Glaziers’ and Painters of Glass Company. As the people who are commemorated in the window by their heraldry were linked to the big house that had been a Commandery of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, the occupants contributed also, to add a memorial to their late eldest son, for which I did the lettering design.
The rest is history. Pieces were moved to where they matched, and devices or decoration were completed. Other pieces had missing bits copied from what existed elsewhere, and Peter’s bank of medieval glass supplied other needed pieces.
Thank you Peter. It was fun working with you, and we had the bonus of your knowledge telling the parish about glass.
Professor David McClean writes: In the years in which I served in the House of Laity as vice-chairman to Oswald Clark (News, 6 January, Gazette, 20 January), and later as his successor as chairman, there were many issues on which we disagreed. Oswald was always very clear in his opinions, showing great tenacity in opposing legislation — which I sometimes introduced — that he saw as threatening the established teaching of the Church of England.
He brought to debate formidable arguments, and a quite remarkable and testing attention to detail. That never affected the kindness, courtesy, and generous friendship that I, like so many others, enjoyed. I think Oswald and I both took pleasure in finding ourselves, on the day of a critical debate on the ordination of women, kneeling side by side at an early communion service in one of the chapels of Westminster Abbey.
He had a great gift for names and, at one time, was said to know the name of every member of the House of Laity. He made one memorable error, one that revealed something of his method. A member stood to speak. Oswald, in the Chair, called “Colonel Ball”. The member standing hesitated before saying, almost apologetically, “Actually, Sir, it’s Major Batt.”
Others have written of the meticulous preparations Oswald made before speaking in the Synod, and the forcefulness of his interventions. For six years, I sat immediately behind him, and was able to watch the final part of the process. He would bring a full text, always hand-written, with about a third of the words underlined. As the debate went on, he would underline more and more, so that when he rose to speak there was scarcely a word that was not underlined at least once.
In the year after I succeeded him as chairman, I was able to invite Oswald to preach, in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, at the Westminster Abbey service to mark the centenary of lay participation in the governance of the Church of England. In his address, he offered a characteristic lay manifesto, calling for the Church to be agreed in its allegiance to its historic faith; speaking clearly and with assurance; deploying the full and true collegiality of clergy and laity; and not afraid to be triumphant. Vintage Oswald.
Oswald’s love of the Prayer Book was well known. It was no great surprise that, in his will, he asked that the Prayer Book order for the Burial of the Dead be used at his funeral “without any omissions from or emendations of the text therein prescribed”.
So it was, and we committed the body of a great Christian gentleman to the ground, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.