OBITUARY : The Rev Kenneth Loveless

Kenneth Loveless was born of a generation that expected many of its clergy to be eccentric. He lived up to that expectation with flair. Looking through his wardrobe gave a hint of the kaleidoscopic life of this colourful man. So many different uniforms and costumes (all with accompanying headgear): his Morris Men's outfit, his naval uniform, a three-cornered hat, priestly cassock and vestments; and his scouting uniforms. Each had a story to tell.

Studies finished, Loveless joined the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of lieutenant- commander. When, for a second time he found himself floating in the cold sea after being torpedoed, he made a vow that if he was saved he would serve the people of east London as a priest, which he did for 45 years. Two curacies prepared him for the task of becoming vicar, in 1954, of the war-ravaged AngloCatholic Shrine of Holy Trinity, Hoxton. He took no heed of the warning that he would not be able to "run his parish like he ran his ship". He made up for his smallness of stature by a largeness of personality which he used to the full.

Loveless could make people work for him. Many curates became entranced by his spell, as did a grateful set of parishioners who found his sparkle so refreshing. Scouting and guiding flourished in the parish - despite the fact that he could not put up a tent himself. His liturgical flair was right on target: a plaque in his house reads, "God is watching so give Him a good show." He was offered the Bishopric of Nassau and the Bahamas but feared the way of life might be too tempting to a man who loved a drink.

He loved possessions: he had a prodigious collection of records (over 10,000); his walls were covered with coffin handles - death, funerals and cemeteries were all fascinating to him. He had such a collection of books that the gas cooker was used to store the overflow. Loveless never made a hot meal at home and boasted that he had never served a cup of coffee or tea to any of his many guests.

In the early years, Loveless became involved with the English music and dancing tradition. He was a member of 58 Morris sides and finally Squire of the Ring in 1980. He was appointed MBE for services to Morris dancing in 1990.

Loveless was much in demand as a concertina player. He had also been an inspiration for the "voice of God" in Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde, and his voice was still hail and hearty when he sang his last hymn in church: a favourite, Sydney Carter's "The Lord of the Dance".

After doing a very effective job as Area Dean of Hackney, he retired in 1976 to a little cottage in Islington. The handsome figure of early years became a mellow, bearded and ruddy-faced old man. He smoked his pipes with relish, his cigars with a flair and took his snuff with a superior snort.

Latterly, Loveless looked out with a sad eye on the church he had tried to serve so faithfully and at an England to which he had given so much. He was particularly upset and angry with the proposed closure of Bart's Hospital, London, where he had been brought back from death's door.

Kenneth Loveless had wanted to be buried off the Nab Tower at Portsmouth, in English water and by Her Majesty's Royal Navy. In fact, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing's export licence in hand, in international water and in the tugmaster's boat from Newhaven, he returned to the sea that he twice cheated. He knew England wasn't what it was, so he will understand.

Stuart Wilson

Kenneth Norman Joseph Loveless, priest, dancer: born 1 August 1911; deacon 1949, priest 1950; vicar, Holy Trinity with St Mary 1954-68; Area Dean of Hackney 1968-76; MBE 1990; died 19 March 1995.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor