Obituary: The Right Rev Kenneth Riches

In the new atmosphere of the Sixties, it was refreshing to work with a bishop who did not wring his hands and murmur `Better not'

THE CLOSE encounters at Lincoln Cathedral, which were dramatised by the media in the Nineties, have obscured the achievements of the long episcopate of Kenneth Riches (1956-74).

His colleagues included some of the ablest Anglican priests of the time: Dick Milford, the theologian who founded Oxfam, Colin Dunlop, the dean who invited Duncan Grant to create his unusual chapel, and Oliver Tomkins, the leading ecumenist, to mention but three.

Lay people trusted Riches and found that they could be much more outspoken to him than to many bishops. When he consulted a Lincolnshire farmer about the appointment of a priest and family from Zimbabwe, he was rewarded with honesty - " 'e couldn't be wuss than some of the white 'uns we've 'ad." Kenneth Riches had time to laugh and to believe the best of people.

Riches was an East Anglian, educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he took a First in Theology. Perhaps he might have become a rather black-suited priest, but from his days as a curate at Portsea, as a Cambridge chaplain, and as a Suffolk country clergyman, he continued to grow in tolerance, sympathy and wit.

His marriage to Katharine Dixon was a total success. Her common sense, helpfulness and hard work never let the episcopal side of his life go to his head. After a time as Principal of Cuddesdon (1945-52), where the regime was relaxed and the students, many of them straight from war service, could be themselves, Riches was briefly a suffragan bishop before he was appointed to Lincoln.

Like most post-war Lincolnshire people, whether farmers, industrialists, teachers or local government leaders, Riches worked for moderate change. He was a friend of other churches, and a strong supporter of Archbishop Ramsey's efforts to bring Anglicans and Methodists together again. He did not hesitate to speak in the Church Assembly in favour of removing the bar to women's ordination. He empathised with the problems of tiny parishes who felt their individuality as strongly as if their Danish founders had only left yesterday, and created the famous South Ormsby Group - linking 14 small parishes - which was copied in other dioceses.

He did not neglect the considerable problems of Scunthorpe, and welcomed clergy from the diocese of Sheffield, then suffering from reactionary leadership, and began industrial mission in the steel works. He was diligent in supporting more traditional parishes in Lincoln, Grimsby, Sleaford and Grantham and was prepared to bring in pioneering priests, such as Stanley Booth-Clibborn, to create a city centre parish. His cathedral, college and diocese became happy and confident.

Working at Lincoln Theological College from 1959 to 1970, I found him a supportive and imaginative chairman. Together with the lay leaders on the college's council, he approved a series of staff appointments unusual in Anglican theological colleges: Methodist and Roman Catholic scholars and Peggy Hartley, a lecturer in social work. He supported the policy of buying houses for married students so that their families could be integrated into the life of the college and the city. My successor in 1970 was able to admit women for training into the college itself.

In the new atmosphere of the Sixties, after Honest to God (that radical explanation of faith by Bishop John Robinson) and the departure of so many priests and religious from the Roman Catholic church, it was refreshing to work with a bishop who did not wring his hands and murmur "Better not". He was unfussy, prepared to think and then say what he thought. Even if his overcrowded diary led to some double bookings, people smiled rather than swore and said, "the unsearchable riches".

It is fair to ask whether the later turmoil at Lincoln Cathedral, and the closure of the college, could have been avoided. Certainly Riches would have prevented Patronage Secretaries in London making foolish appointments. But he allowed the antiquated Cathedral Statutes to remain unreformed. Perhaps the glamour of antiquity was too influential. It would be fairer to say that the pastoral care of his enormous diocese, as well as his duties in London which included the chairmanship of the ministry committee of the church, and his tasks as Visitor of colleges and schools outside his diocese, were too overwhelming to enable him to devote energy to reforms - reforms which might have prevented the crises which arose 10 years after his time.

In retirement at Dunwich he and Katharine, who had given so much service to so many good causes, were happy and hospitable. Their house and garden, hidden in woods but within sound of the sea, welcomed old friends and old students from many eras of his ministry. His knowledge of furniture, his faithfully undertaken retreats and his mature, smiling, spiritual life led many to visit him in eastern England where he was at home.

Kenneth Riches, priest: born 20 September 1908; ordained deacon 1932, priest 1933; Curate, St Mary's, Portsea 1932-35; Curate, St John's, East Dulwich 1935-36; Chaplain and Librarian, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 1936-42; Rector, Bredfield with Boulge, Suffolk 1942-45; Principal, Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford, and Vicar of Cuddesdon 1945-52; consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester, Archdeacon of Oxford and Canon of Christ Church 1952-56; Bishop of Lincoln 1956-74; Assistant Bishop of Louisiana 1976-77; married 1942 Katharine Dixon (two sons, one daughter); died Dunwich, Suffolk 15 May 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders