Obituary : Sir Reginald Pullen

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The Independent Online
Few people can say that the main part of their life has revolved around one of the nation's greatest institutions and that the institution has benefited enormously from their contribution. Yet that surely is how history will record the life of Sir Reginald Pullen, Receiver General of Westminster Abbey from 1959 to 1987.

Born in 1922 at Falmouth, Cornwall, where he was educated, Pullen started his administrative career as a clerk with the Great Western Railway before joining the RAF, where he reached the rank of Flight Lieutenant by the end of the Second World War. He then had aspirations of becoming a stationmaster, but instead became a chartered secretary and took a degree in Law at King's College London; qualifications which were to serve him well at the abbey, whose staff he joined in 1947 as assistant to the Chief Accountant. He went on to become Deputy Registrar in 1951 and Receiver General and Registrar in 1959, succeeding his father-in-law, Tom Hebron.

Pullen's years at the abbey covered four deanships and saw the beginning of the recently completed 22-year programme of restoration of the fabric, for which he played a large part in the fund-raising. They also saw the Coronation, five royal marriages including that of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, several memorial services for national figures and the funeral of Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1979.

In most of these and in many other events Pullen played a significant role, and his meticulous attention to detail ("I love to see it done right") was greatly appreciated, particularly by the 149 brides he met during his 40 years and of whom he said tactfully: "I remember them all; all my brides are beautiful."

Pullen set high standards, and expected them of others, even if it meant treading on clerical toes. It was not only the special events, however, that benefited from his expertise, but also day-to-day administration. He was extremely knowledgeable about the abbey's history and constitution, and an authority on matters of protocol. It was largely due to his hard work and ingenuity that Westminster Abbey's 1953 appeal was successful despite the simultaneous appeal by its friendly rival St Paul's. Few involved will forget his many ideas for events to mark the abbey's ninth centenary in 1966.

Through his extra-mural activities - Westminster City Councillor from 1962 to 1965, Justice of the Peace for 25 years and Chairman of a Juvenile Court, among others - that Pullen developed cordial relationships between the abbey and such outside organisations as Westminster City Council, whose Lord Mayor is Deputy High Steward of the abbey, and the St John Ambulance Brigade.

After he retired in 1987 Pullen became Clerk to the Trustees of the United Westminster Almshouses Group of Charities, which post he held at the time of his death. He maintained his links with the abbey as Deputy High Bailiff.

William Reginald James Pullen, church administrator: born Falmouth, Cornwall 17 February 1922; Receiver-General, Westminster Abbey 1959-87, Chapter Clerk 1963-87, Registrar 1964-84; MVO 1966, CVO 1975, KCVO 1987; married 1948 Angela Hebron (two daughters); died 25 September 1996.

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