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Owen Chadwick: 1916-2015 (Fellow 1947-56, )

The College is sorry to note the death of Professor Sir Owen Chadwick, Honorary Fellow, at the age of 99.  Owen Chadwick was one of the most distinguished historians of his time, Master of Selwyn College for 27 years, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.  He came to Trinity Hall as Chaplain in 1947, serving with Launcelot Fleming who was Dean at the time.  Owen stayed on as Dean when Launcelot left to become Bishop of Portsmouth.  After he became Master of Selwyn in 1956, Owen retained a strong affection for Trinity Hall, coming back often for feasts and other occasions. 

To read more about the life of Professor Sir Owen Chadwick, please visit The Guardian and The Times (subscription required).

Memorial Services

Choral Evensong in Chapel on Sunday 14 February 2016 at 6pm will be dedicated to the memory of Professor Sir Owen Chadwick, former Chaplain and Dean.  Some members of Owen’s family will be present.  If you would like to attend it would be helpful if you could inform the Development Office (Tel. 01223 332550 Email. alumnioffice@trinhall.cam.ac.uk).

A Memorial Service will also take place at Great St. Mary's Church on Saturday 30 January 2016 at 2pm followed by refreshments at Selwyn College. Please email masters-assistant@sel.cam.ac.uk or telephone 01223 335890 for further information.

The funeral took place at Great St. Mary’s Church on Monday 3rd August 2015 at 3pm and was followed by refreshments in the University Combination Room, the Old Schools.

The Young Owen Chadwick - Some memories of one of his first pupils

When I first met Owen, at a pre-term reading party in 1948, he looked so young that I mistook him for a fellow undergraduate. With his natural warmth and humility he treated us all as personal friends. Owen and I were both engaged to Nottingham girls and we were married within a year of each other.  I represented the  undergraduates at the marriage of Owen and Ruth and was invited to the reception at Nottingham University where Ruth’s father was the Vice Chancellor. In due course the young couple made there getaway in a  battered old car. At the top of the drive the lone figure of the Vice-Chancellor in his morning suit made an imposing figure.  He held one end of a toilet roll which was attached to the rear of the car and which unravelled at ever increasing  speed.  A year later Owen came to bless Jean and myself as we too were married.   

Owen’s kindly demeanour masked his great physical energy.  This was apparent  in training sessions with the Rugby XV and in the bouts of extremely vigorous Scottish dancing enjoyed by many members of the team.   During one tutorial there was the blatant sound of a trumpet. Owen moved quickly to the window and saw the miscreant standing on the roof by the clock tower.  He immediately climbed out onto the roof and apprehended the villain – our tutorial then calmly resumed.     

At an early midweek Celebration of Holy Communion Owen asked me to serve for him.  There were only the two of us present but I was of little use for I fell asleep.  Afterwards Owen, always positive, said that he didn’t disturb me for I was obviously very deep in my devotions!  On the eve of the May Ball Owen gave me two tickets and asked if Jean and I could use them.

I visited Owen when he was the Master of Selwyn and I referred to the current rumours, that he was tipped for Canterbury but had refused all offers of preferment. He smiled but said that he had no reason  to move; the College was his parish, the History Faculty was close at hand and across the road was the University Rugby Ground.

Like many others I sent Owen copies of any books that I had published.   Hand written replies came back full of praise and with comments that showed that he had read every word.

It was not his teaching but Owen himself that has remained an inspiration for over sixty years and I can still hear him saying.   Keep your sentences short!

 The Rev. Canon John Hodgkinson (1948, Theology)

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