Obitaury: The Right Rev Douglas Feaver - Obituaries - News - The Independent

Obitaury: The Right Rev Douglas Feaver

Douglas Russell Feaver, priest: born Bristol 22 May 1914; ordained deacon 1938, priest 1939; Curate, St Albans Cathedral 1938-42; Chaplain, RAFVR 1942-46; Canon and Sub-Dean of St Albans 1946-58; Vicar of St Mary's, Nottingham and Rural Dean of Nottingham 1958-72; Bishop of Peterborough 1972-84; married 1939 Katharine Stubbs (died 1987; one son, two daughters), 1988 Clare Harvey; died Bruton, Somerset 9 November 1997.

Douglas Feaver was one of the Church of England's more colourful characters, about whom innumerable anecdotes are related. Indeed, some years ago, there was published, under the title Purple Feaver (1985), a collection of his bons mots which, even if some had become embroidered in the telling, are undoubtedly ben trovato.

Feaver was a man of firm and well-grounded views, and a hearty range of prejudices, which he was never afraid to express. When one met him, one was likely to be greeted not with the usual platitudes, but with a sharp, challenging, even outrageous, comment about oneself or one's opinions: his tall figure, shambling gait and piercing glance often made him seem like a bird of prey waiting to pounce.

So he could be distinctly formidable, striking fear into bishops' meetings and college high tables, where his quick mind and acerbic tongue would devastate any evidence of shoddy or half-baked thinking, with which he had no patience. But he never minded people standing up to him and he relished the cut and thrust of debate. And beneath it all, there was always a kind, warm and humorous person, who never took either himself or life in general over seriously, and could be great fun.

As a scholar of Keble College, Oxford, he took a double First in History and Theology. He always retained his scholarly interests and much enjoyed intellectual company. He then spent 20 years at St Albans Cathedral, first as curate and then as Canon and Sub-Dean, only interrupted by war-time service as a chaplain in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Perhaps a key step in his career was his appointment to the living of St Mary's, Nottingham, the central church of the city. The setting of a beautiful building and the particular demands of such a parish admirably suited Feaver's interests and talents and his successful 14-year ministry there marked him out for the preferment which came with his nomination to the see of Peterborough.

Feaver used to say that he considered the diocese of Peterborough to be the best in England, and, if it is true that the prime requirement of a good bishop is that he should enjoy the job, this was certainly the case with him. He knew and loved the whole area, from its deeply rural parts to the great industrial developments which mushroomed during his tenure. Earlier he had been a Proctor in Convocation and, as a bishop, he was automatically a member of the General Synod, but he did not play a great part in the latter body and had scant sympathy with the central administration of the Church and its increasing bureaucracy.

It was his diocese which absorbed his energies, and he never felt the need of a suffragan. He was a firm traditionalist, with a strong sense of history, wedded to the Book of Common Prayer, which he always insisted on using when he conducted public worship. Sometimes he could frighten timid clergymen and, unsurprisingly, not all his clergy agreed with him but they soon came to realise that he was no blinkered autocrat but someone very approachable and deeply concerned with them.

Feaver had a special interest in the younger clergy, using his examining chaplains, in a way that no longer happens, to ensure that they did some solid theological reading and himself carefully reviewing their progress every year. Many were indebted to his pastoral ministry, not least the then Duke of Gloucester and his family who lived in the diocese, and in the lovely Palace at Peterborough he and his wife were always most generous and open in their hospitality. Under him, business was despatched briskly, in the pulpit he was pungent, witty and brief and, although he did no major writing, his contributions to diocesan publications were models of wisdom and insight.

With some reluctance, Feaver felt he should resign after some 12 years in harness and settled first in Cambridge and finally at Bruton in Somerset. His first wife, by whom he had three children, was a Stubbs, a member of a famous clerical and academic family: when he remarried after her death, his second wife, who survives him, had been a distinguished headmistress. Both marriages were very happy, not least, one suspects, because both ladies were a match for him.

Feaver became a bishop before the establishment of the Crown Appointments Commission and one wonders whether his pronounced individuality would have found favour under the present system. In many ways, he embodied a kind of Anglican churchmanship and understanding of the episcopal office which is now virtually extinct.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week