We are very sad to hear of the death on 1 June of our patron John Julius, Lord Norwich.
Lord Norwich liked to tell the story of first visiting St Mary Magdalene’s Church with the poet Sir John Betjeman in the 1950s, a time when Victorian architecture was under grave threat. Betjeman opined that the church was “a corker”, the architect George Edmund Street at his very best, and must be protected. Lord Norwich duly took up the baton from Sir John. Years later when the St Mary Magdalene appeal was launched to fund the conservation and redevelopment of the church, it was fitting that he became patron. We were hugely honoured to have his support, not least considering his reputation and achievements in the cause of cultural heritage on a much larger European and world stage.
He gave important help to St Mary Magdalene’s at a critical juncture. In 2016 a £3.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund hung in the balance, with a deadline looming to show that we could raise enough match funding towards our building works. Lord Norwich led the charge that, in the nick of time, got us over the line, working actively and assiduously to bring in all-important grants and pledges that secured the church’s future. Whatever he promised to John Betjeman, he delivered on his word. We could not thank him enough.
Lord Norwich led a full life, and achieved many things. He was an immensely likable man of warmth and friendliness. It was a privilege to have him with us, and he will be missed and remembered at St Mary Magdalene’s.