Lancing College played a pivotal role in Michael’s life when, whilst attending Salisbury Cathedral Choir School from 1928, he received a Music Scholarship to Lancing College at the age of 13. He studied under Jasper Roper, Music Master and Organist at Lancing, and flourished. His happy memories of learning the repertoires of Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms and Elgar to name but a few during Soirees for the senior choir with Earl Grey tea stayed with him throughout his life. He still recalled the singing of Bach’s Mass in B Minor in the chapel with the whole school, Masters, Mistresses and a full orchestra. As a Senior Choral Scholar, he was put in charge of the House Music Festival and was delighted to win that year, there was no doubt that music would play a major part in Michael’s life. From leaving Lancing at the beginning of WWll prior to joining the RAF he spent time at his father’s church (St Saviour’s, Warwick Avenue, London) studying under the organist Charles Proctor who was also a repetiteur conductor at Covent Garden. There followed a greater study of Wagner and his operas, a life-long passion for Michael.
He always believed that if you sing, read music, play an instrument and have the ability to make friends then things happen to you in the music world.
The RAF took him to India and ultimately to Ceylon where he spent the war years. In 1946 he returned to the UK spending time in Newbury as a schoolmaster, still heavily involving himself in choral societies and becoming conductor of The Newbury Junior Orchestra under its President Gerald Finzi who became a great influence on Michael.
He married Sylvia in 1948 and following the birth of their son Jonathan, entered Chichester Theological College in 1951 to train as a priest, following in his father’s footsteps. And so began his love of church music – hymns, anthems and choral works – including Faure’s Requiem. Through his life as a parish priest in Bedfordshire and Dorset he came into contact with many choirs and choral societies, and during the 1960s this included time in Worcestershire as Hospital Chaplin where he connected with The Three Choirs Festival. After retiring from the Church, he spent time in Cornwall and Chichester working with Age Concern, and in 1985 when he retired Michael moved back to ‘Elgar and Three Choirs country’ and his beloved Malvern Hills. He joined The Philomusica of Gloucester and Worcester where he had vocal lessons as a Bass from someone he came to admire enormously, James Walkley MBE.
Throughout his life Michael had a passion for climbing the Welsh Mountains he also endlessly walked the Malvern Hills, eventually retiring to a house from where he could view the hills.
His Father’s family originated in Dorset and Michael’s major influences in life included Dorset, Salisbury Cathedral School, Lancing College, Music, the Welsh mountains, his beloved dogs all loyal companions on his adventures, and Malvern with its hills and Elgar. He was passionate about whatever he set his mind to. His investigative work on the Clerkenwell Estate and Boundary Markers in Malvern was extensive and resulted in a fascinating book, to be followed by books on the Welsh mountains, Salisbury Cathedral School, his time as a parish priest and many more published articles. He is survived by his wife Joan, his children Jonathan, Helen and Felicity, his six grandchildren and his great-granddaughter born in New Zealand just 12 days before Michael died in February 2018 at the age of 97.