The Reverend Sir James Roll presided over the run-down parish of St John's Church in Dagenham, Essex, from 1958 to 1983. He kept his largely self- made fortune a secret until after he died in February this year, aged 87. It
was accumulated by investment rather than being inherited with the title. Its size was only disclosed when his will was published this month.
Lynn Foster, a friend and former St John's church warden, said: "I thought we would have to raise money for his funeral, so I was stunned to hear of how much he left. I knew he had some money but he invested it wisely in insurance schemes and that must have been his secret."
Other colleagues remember a kind man whose only close companion was a terrier called Lucy. "He was the archetypal scruffy old vicar, with a heart of gold," said the Rev Roger Gayler, of the neighbouring St Mark's Church "His dog-collar didn't fit, his mac had certainly seen better days, he drove a battered old van and lived in an ordinary house on a council estate which was owned by the Water Board. He wasn't mean - money just didn't matter to him."
Sir James left pounds 200,000 to a variety of animal, homeless and children's charities, but the bulk of his fortune went to his step-sister and other distant relatives. He also left pounds 10,000 to St Clement's Church, Leigh- on-Sea, where he had a home to which he took poor children on holiday.Reuse content