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Obituary: Anne Taylor

13 May 2022

Correspondents write:

ANNE TAYLOR, who has died, aged 85, was a pioneering woman and educationist, who combined a hugely successful career with dedication to her husband, friends, family, and the Church.

Anne was born in Kolkata, daughter of the Revd Tom Dart and Muriel Dart. Aged eight, she returned to England in 1945, when her father became Vicar of St Peter’s, Handsworth. Post-war England felt shockingly different to India, but Anne relished the freedom of summer holidays with grandparents in Ilfracombe. When her father became SPG Area Secretary for Oxford diocese, Anne moved to the city that she came to love as a schoolgirl and undergraduate.

At Oxford High School, Anne flourished; in her sixth-form scripture classes, she and her friend would pit their wits against the atheist daughter of a philosophy don at the university. Anne was crisply argumentative, firm, and always entirely reasonable. She went on to read history at St Hilda’s College, where she made lifelong friends.

After graduation, Anne worked as a reporter on the Church Times, and shared a flat with the actress Elizabeth MacLennan. In 1961, she started her first permanent teaching post at Paddington and Maida Vale High School, attending St Mark’s, Notting Hill, where Humphrey Taylor was the assistant curate.

In 1965, the Bishop of Guildford married Anne and Humphrey at her father’s parish church in Aldershot. A short while later, they offered themselves to the USPG to work overseas; Humphrey was appointed Vicar of St Peter’s, Lilongwe.

In the midst of preparing to move to Malawi, Anne gave birth to her first daughter Katy, and, 19 months later, her second daughter, Lizzie, was born. Neither birth was straightforward, complicated by emergency caesarean sections and rhesus incompatibility. Tragically, Anne’s third child was stillborn, and buried in Frilsham, near Newbury, where Anne’s and Humphrey’s ashes will be interred.

In Lilongwe, Anne settled in to teaching history at Likuni Secondary School, but, in 1971, the family were ordered to leave the country by the President of Malawi, who suspected Humphrey of supporting political prisoners. With barely a week’s notice, the family returned to England, where they had neither job nor home.

When Humphrey became Chaplain of Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, Anne enrolled on a post-graduate degree, researching racism in history textbooks, and taught part-time at Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School (now Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School). Three years later, the family moved to Wimbledon, and Anne began teaching history at Willow’s High School for Girls, before becoming a careers teacher.

In 1982, Anne was appointed Divisional Industry Schools Co-ordinator of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). Hugely creative, with an ability to grasp quickly the bigger picture, Anne’s skills shone; she was rapidly promoted to Careers Inspector and then Acting Staff Inspector. Working in her beloved central London, she could, the family used to joke that find her way anywhere, because it always involved heading down memory lane.

After ILEA, Anne worked in Camden as Senior Inspector for Student Learning and Assessment, before becoming Principal Inspector of Schools in Doncaster, when Humphrey was consecrated to be Bishop of Selby. She also served as the President of the National Association of Careers and Guidance Teachers.

In 2003, Anne and Humphrey moved to Honeybourne, where she became chair of governors at the primary school, and a devoted member of the village walking group and church. A keen family historian, Anne wrote and published biographies of her parents and accounts of her time in Malawi and ILEA, which are available as Kindle books.

In 2019, Anne and Humphrey moved to Bristol to be closer to Katy. Humphrey died in 2021 (Gazette, 5 March 2021).

Anne died suddenly on Maundy Thursday. She will be much missed by her daughters, sons-in-law, brother, friends, and five grandchildren, and remembered for her fun, friendship, creativity, and love.

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