Obituary: Prebendary Dewi Morgan

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The Independent Online
David Lewis Morgan, priest, born Pengam Monmouthshire 5 February 1916, Curate St Andrew's Cardiff 1939-43, Aberdare 1943-46, Aberavon 1946-50, Press Officer Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 1950-52, Editorial and Press Secretary 1952-62, Editor St Martin's Review 1953-55, Associate Editor Church Illustrated 1955-67, Anglican World 1960-67, Rector St Bride's Church Fleet Street 1962-84, Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral 1976-84 (Emeritus), Priest-in- Charge St Dunstan-in-the West 1978-80, married 1942 Doris Povey (two daughters), died London 8 January 1993.

ONE OF the last links with that former enclave of national newspapers called Fleet Street has been broken with the death of Dewi Morgan, former Rector of the Church of St Bride.

David Lewis Morgan - it is certain that during his 22-year stint at St Bride's he rarely recalled he had those two Christian names - was one of three remarkable men responsible for the transformation of a pile of rubble left by the Germans during the last war into the thriving replica of the beautiful church conceived by Wren.

Cyril Armitage was responsible for the rebuilding of St Bride's; Dewi Morgan breathed life into it; and John Oates, his successor, has overcome the sudden dispersal of the newspaper flock to outer areas of London, and retained the church's title as the Journalists' Church.

Dewi Morgan was born at Pengam, Monmouthshire, in 1916 and was educated at the local grammar school and University College, Cardiff. St Michael's College, LLandaff, prepared him for Holy Orders and he held curacies in Cardiff, Aberdare and Aberavon. Life among the Welsh miners and writing for local newspaper kept him busy, but eventually he answered the call of London and a desire for wider experience.

He joined the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as press and editorial secretary and over 12 years there developed his flair for journalism. In 1955, he also became associate editor of Church Illustrated.

In 1962 he succeeded Cyril Armitage as Rector of St Bride's and as a result became even more deeply immersed in journalism. He was the Church's representative in Fleet Street and frequently advised it on dealings with the press; there was a stream of press conferences at the church and he became chaplain to the Press Club, then situated next door to St Bride's.

Dewi and his wife, Doris, regularly attended the club's functions, Dewi always producing an apt grace to say before dinner. He was always at home to any of his Fleet Street flock of journalists, printers and advertising people and a session of discussion or advice over a glass or two of superb sherry must still remain as an outstanding memory for many Fleet Street veterans.

Morgan was well equipped to tackle - and usually solve - a serious problem, but could not remain serious for long when among his friends in the Press Club and always had a fund of new jokes and anecdotes. With his beard and flowing cloak, he was a common sight in Fleet Street and he had so many friends and acquaintances that it was difficult for him to progress more than a few yards at a time without being stopped by someone who wanted to talk.

Perhaps Morgan's greatest joy - and a remarkable monument to his memory - was the museum he developed in the crypt of the church with the help of a generous bequest from the estate of Lord Beaverbrook. Christians had been worshipping on the site for over 1,500 years and there had been seven previous churches, so there was no lack of artefacts and material for exhibits. He was never happier than when he was showing visitors round.

Morgan was a prolific writer. He wrote 10 books and edited another four. Chief of them is The Phoenix of Fleet Street (1973), a history of St Bride's, and the last, Where Belonging Begins (1988).

Another joy of Morgan's was music, and he built up a high standard at the church, introducing 'Sermons in Music' when short items by the choir introduced by himself replaced the traditional sermon. He had firm views on sermons and reckoned that they should never last more than six minutes.

He was appointed a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral in 1976 and retired with regret in 1984.

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