Obituary: The Very Revd Michael Moxon

by
20 September 2019

The Very Revd Michael Moxon

The Very Revd Michael Moxon

The Dean of Truro writes:

THE Very Revd Michael Moxon, who died on 28 July, aged 77, was Dean of Truro from 1998 until 2004.

Michael was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School in north London. After his curacy in Lowestoft, he followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a minor canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, where, as Sacrist, he played a leading part in the organisation of services, from the daily evensong to state occasions such as the Queen’s Silver Jubilee service in 1977 and the 1981 royal wedding.

Nine years followed during which he was Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey, one of the greater churches, before becoming a Canon of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and then moving to Truro Cathedral. In all of these positions, he organised and led worship with enormous skill and grace, enabling congregations to know something of the mystery and majesty of God’s glory.

He understood the importance of our large churches and cathedrals as places where many can gather on special occasions to find inspiration for their work, and he was a gifted preacher, especially when he was able to relate the great teachings of the Christian faith to particular groups within the community, or to those experiencing some particular joy or sorrow in their lives.

Yet he was equally at home in more intimate worshipping contexts: at the Royal Chapel in Windsor Great Park, where the Queen and the Queen Mother were regular Sunday worshippers; and at numerous parishes of Truro diocese, where he went to provide cover or preach, as he continued to do after retiring in 2004. He loved nothing more than, for example, providing holiday cover on the Isles of Scilly.

His time-keeping left a great deal to be desired, though: he was once late for a royal engagement in Windsor Great Park, causing the Queen to drive around in circles for a further ten minutes so as not to arrive before him. Despite this, the Queen was pleased to convey upon Michael a lieutenancy within the Royal Victorian Order, as a mark of thanks for his pastoral and liturgical ministry to herself and her family.

He was blessed with an outstanding voice, which he used to great effect in leading choral evensong and in his eucharistic presidency; and he loved the English choral tradition, overseeing the development of Truro Cathedral Choir into one of the finest choirs in the country.

For Michael, the wine of the eucharist led naturally to the wine of a post-service reception, and God’s hospitality in worship led to a life characterised by hospitality to others. Michael was an extrovert, and it was a joy to watch him at a party in the Chapter House or at home, finding something to say to everyone. A generation of chorister families and cathedral volunteers, “the great and the good” of the county, the fire-service chaplains, who came under his care, and many others — they all experienced something of that hospitality that is part of the joy of the gospel. Even during his final illness in hospital, Michael was always asking after the nurses, their health and happiness in equal measure.

Michael could roar with laughter, whether at Les Dawson or Fawlty Towers, or as a result of teasing his family. His daughter, Emma, recalls how pulling their legs was his forte, particularly over their dress sense and choice of music. But Michael loved dressing up himself, and spent hours in the bathroom getting ready for weddings, Royal Ascot, or Buckingham Palace garden parties — any excuse to don his top hat and frock coat.

Michael had many interests outside church life: sport, especially cricket, which was a lifelong passion, as was his support for Northampton Town Football Club; pre-war motor cars, including his three successive Morris Eights, all named Emily; and foreign travel, especially to France.

He was also game for almost anything: swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, canoeing, and parascending; archery, falconry, and riding. Like so many of the clergy, he loved trains, and owned a Hornby train set from the age of 12 until his dying day.

Michael died in Treliske hospital after a short illness. His requiem was celebrated on 29 August in Truro Cathedral, the coffin having been received the afternoon before. Michael’s favourite music, Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices and Tallis’s “If ye love me”, was sung by the choir, who returned from holiday early for the service. Michael leaves his widow, Nicola, three children, Ben, Nick, and Emma, and his grandchildren.

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