Obituary: The Ven Sam Woodhouse

It was a great surprise to Sam Woodhouse - and always remained so - when Robert Stopford offered him the Archdeaconry of London in 1967, and it caused some ruffling of feathers in the senior clerical dovecote in the London diocese. But Stopford had chosen wisely, and when Woodhouse retired 11 years later he was probably the best-loved Archdeacon in living memory - though for all his gentle manner he had an inner core of steel.

Son of a cavalry officer turned parson - he was a brilliant horseman - Sam Woodhouse never threw off the image of a country gentleman, nor would have wanted to, but those who could see no further than that missed half the man. For he was that unusual mixture of someone whose totally traditional exterior masked a mind that was open and receptive to the ferment of new ideas which were enlivening the Church of England in his day.

A man of many parts - as a mountaineer he got as far as Camp One in an early Everest expedition - he trained originally as an architect under Herbert Baker, before following his father into the Army, where he was commissioned into the Somerset Light Infantry. Before long, however, he felt, like his father, the call to ordination, and went to a curacy in Lancaster, where he met and married Pat Daniel, who was to be the foundation of his extremely happy family life.

The Second World War began in the year of their marriage and, rejoining the Army as a chaplain, Woodhouse saw service in the Middle East and Italy, being mentioned three times in despatches. After livings in Blackpool and Leominster, he came in 1957 to be Rector of Bristol City Parish Church (St Stephen's) for 10 years, which was his major job before London, and where he is still warmly remembered.

By a happy chance Robert Stopford's successor as Bishop was Gerald Ellison, who had been President of the Oxford Boat when Woodhouse was reserve oar (he would have got a Blue if someone had not come back for a fourth year) and they had five fruitful years of partnership in London, until Woodhouse retired two years before Ellison in 1978.

An archdeacon's job is essentially to do with bricks and mortar, but for all that- or perhaps because of it - it is a highly pastoral one and in most instances the clergy look first to their archdeacon for support. The clergy of the City, which was Woodhouse's sole charge when he started, are well known for their individuality, but few if any of them were able to say "No" to him. With its 40 or so churches - mostly by Wren - every one of which was an architectural gem, his early training proved immensely valuable, and he was able to give full rein to his artistic side. He threw himself wholeheartedly behind Peter Palumbo's generous gift of the Henry Moore altar to St Stephen's, Walbrook, and though he hated divisions and controversy he could not but be pleased when the objectors were overruled.

Unhappily the reorganisation of the diocese in the mid-Seventies added three deaneries to the Archdeaconry (44 parishes in Westminster and Paddington) which increased the burden on him enormously, so that he returned somewhat earlier than he might otherwise have done. But he continued active for a number of years as an energetic Chairman of the Retired Clergy Association, until increasing ill-health forced him into complete retirement.

One of Woodhouse's two sons has followed him into the Church, and both his other son and his daughter have followed artistic careers.

Derek Hayward

Samuel Mostyn Forbes Woodhouse, priest: born 28 April 1912; ordained deacon 1936, priest 1937; Chaplain to the Forces 1939-45 (three times mentioned in despatches); Vicar, Holy Trinity, South Shore, Blackpool 1945-49; Vicar of Leominster 1949-57; Rural Dean of Leominster 1956-57; Rector, Bristol City Parish Church 1957-67; Archdeacon of London and Canon Residentiary of St Paul's 1967-78 (Emeritus); Archdeacon to Retired Clergy, Bath and Wells 1978-95; Chairman, Retired Clergy Association 1980-88, Vice-President 1990-95; married 1939 Patricia Daniel (two sons, one daughter); died Bristol 13 October 1995.

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
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'