Obituary: The Ven. Frederick Hazell

26 July 2019

Barry Williams writes:

THE Ven. Frederick Roy Hazell, who died on 16 July 2019, aged 88, was born on 12 August 1930, and brought up in a Strict and Particular Brethren family. At Cambridge, he read Aristotle’s Politics, and this changed his views for ever.

He sought to become a member of the Church of England and was utterly disenfranchised by his entire family, suffering considerable hardship for his faith in the process. At one time, he worked as a railway clerk, even without accommodation, and was for ever grateful to Pusey House, wherein he found a berth until he could move to lodgings before going to university.

At Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge, he read history with honours. Cuddesdon College followed, but a barrier to ordination occurred. He had no baptism certificate. He wrote to his father (who at that time was not speaking to him), and asked for a certificate of baptism. It was approximately in the following terms. “I certify that I, John Murdock Hazell, on or about 19th August 1930, did baptise my son Frederick Roy in the bath, with water, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” It was, of course, valid, and thus Frederick proceeded to ordination.

He was an assistant curate in Ilkeston from 1956 to 1959 and then in Heanor until 1960. There followed three years as Chaplain to the University of the West Indies and another assistant curacy at St Martin in the Fields, London. Frederick was appointed to the parish of St Saviour, Croydon, then in Canterbury diocese. He was Rural Dean of Croydon from 1972 to 1977, and his skills were immediately rewarded by an honorary canonry of Canterbury Cathedral, in 1973. Though a great proponent of the merging of the (then) Ecclesiastical Island of Croydon with Southwark diocese, he dealt gently and with understanding with those who disagreed with his stance.

While at St Saviour’s, he was the first incumbent to give an organist paid maternity leave. He then oversaw the combining of the parishes of St Saviour’s and Holy Trinity, Selhurst, removing the fine Father Willis organ from the latter parish to replace the worn-out instrument in St Saviour’s.

I had asked his permission to use the old organ in St Saviour’s for practice. After a few months, I called to return the keys and to ask what was the charge for the use of the organ. He handed my list of practice hours back to me and said that this was the church’s contribution to my musical education.

Years later, when the same organ was installed in Holy Saviour, Frederick asked me to give the opening recital. Afterwards, at the inevitable “bun fight”, he asked me what my fee was for playing that evening. It was with delight that I said there was no fee and returned the piece of paper which he had so generously declined many years before.

Frederick always treated his organists as equal colleagues, and was loyally served by able and well-qualified musicians throughout his long and fruitful ministry.

A long list of assistant curates had good reason to be grateful for a thorough and careful training, which Frederick always made a priority.

It was no surprise that he was made Archdeacon of Croydon in 1978, a post that he held with distinction. He handled his authority with great care, not being afraid to stand up to the “heritage lobby” when the pastoral situation demanded it.

Sadly, his first wife, Gwen, died in January 1992. They had met when Frederick was teaching at a school in Kingham, in the Cotswolds. Gwen, who was some years older than her husband, was a Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Sister and of a totally different background, style, and temperament.

Frederick retired in June 1992. On 9 July 1994, he married Norma, who had been his secretary. The wedding was a marvellous occasion with a professional choir and the church packed with clergy, with the then Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Roy Williamson, presiding.

In retirement, Frederick undertook posts at Knowle St Giles, Chard, Furnham, and Chaffcombe, with a prison chaplaincy, which he greatly enjoyed. He also served at Tardebigge.

Latterly, he and Norma lived in Ramsay Hall, Worthing, where he often took services in the chapel. Sadly, dementia took hold, but he remained kind and gracious to the end.

Frederick was a great admirer of Cardinal Newman and was, for one brought up in the Brethren, surprisingly High Church. Throughout his life he was a conscientious and erudite scholar. His superb lectures at the Archbishop Coggan Training Centre are still remembered by many who attended them.

He will be hugely missed.

His funeral will be held in St Botolph’s, Heene, Worthing, on 5 August.

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