Diocesan press releases

The Bishop of St Asaph pays tribute to Sir William Gladstone

The Bishop of St Asaph has paid tribute to Sir William Gladstone, whose funeral takes place at St Deiniol’s Church, Hawarden, today (13 April).

Sir William, who was the great grandson of the nineteenth century Prime Minister and founder of Gladstone’s Library, William Ewart Gladstone, served as chair of the Representative Body of the Church in Wales from 1977 to 1992.  He was also a former Chief Scout and Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd.

The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, who will attend the funeral and give the blessing at the graveside, said: “I only got to know Sir William in the last decades of his life but he was a man always dedicated to the service and improvement of others.  His gentle charm and quiet humour meant that he was held in both great affection and respect.”

The funeral service, which takes place at 2.30pm, will be led by the Rector of Hawarden, Revd Andrea Jones.  She said: “This is not a private family funeral. Sir William wanted all the church family and the community to be able to attend, if they wish.  The Warden of Gladstone’s Library, Peter Francis and the Venerable Bill Prichard will lead the prayers during the service. Revd Andrew Wickens from Newton Heath in the Diocese of Manchester will be singing pieces from the Messiah.”

The Archbishop of Wales, the Rt Revd John Davies, who will also attend the funeral, paid tribute last week, saying: “William Gladstone’s distinguished service to the Church in Wales, not least as the Chairman of its Representative Body (RB), was much appreciated, and I consider it a privilege, on behalf of the Church in Wales, to be able to express our thanks. I was a member of the Governing Body both as a layman and after ordination during his tenure of office, and was able to admire both his reassuring delivery and kindly presence as he steered us through the finer points and, sometimes, almost impenetrable, details of the RB’s finances. He both spoke and conducted himself with effortless courtesy and much good humour, qualities which he sought to impress upon others. His public service to organisations beyond the Church in Wales, not least the Scout Movement, was widely admired. The Church in Wales gives grateful thanks for a thoroughly dependable and generous servant.”

Gladstone’s Library has also paid tribute to Sir William.  It’s chair of trustees, Professor Michael Wheeler said: “It was as Chairman of Trustees at the Library, between 1989 and 2000, that he made the greatest impact on those of us who were involved in the Library and its operations…. He was patient, kind and deeply interested in the work of the Library. In 1998 he invited HM The Queen and Prince Philip to lunch at the Library, in the middle of a hectic round of engagements for them and for him, as Lord Lieutenant. A memorable occasion indeed.”

Sir William Gladstone’s funeral will take place on Friday 13 April at 2.30pm at St Deiniol’s Church, in Hawarden.