Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood The Evening Chronicle

Faithful servant

Over the Christmas period the Church in Newcastle lost its elder statesman, Canon Christopher Unwin, at the age of 87. A native of Leicestershire and ordained at St Nicholas' Cathedral in 1940, he was best known throughout the Newcastle Diocese as Archdeacon of Northumberland from 1963 to 1982.

It was at Cambridge in the 30s that he first came to know the North East. He once told me: "In those days we students ran country camps for unemployed young men on Tyneside and Wearside. These were at Featherstone Castle, near Haltwhistle, often with 100 men under canvas. After one camp I wrote to offer my services in either Durham or Newcastle Diocese. Bishop Bilbrough of Newcastle wrote me a particularly warm invitation and I accepted. I never regretted the decision."

After 23 years parochial experience in Benwell (twice), Sugley and Horton, he became Archdeacon in 1963. He was clear what was required of him. "An Archdeacon is the man who puts a human face on some of the faceless committees and elected boards of the diocese. Committees can come up with decisions which take some handling. I would visit a parish and try to sort out a local problem. They would throw everything at me from the Reformation to the present day. Then I would have to duck and weave to avoid being hit. Even so, I always believed it was possible to leave with a friendly handshake."

Of such was the character of Canon Christopher. His buoyant nature meant he could deal with the Church's problems without being sucked down into them. He was once introduced to a meeting as this busy and industrial man. He was industrious in his retirement too, taking an active part in the parish of St Bartholomew, Benton, where his funeral service will take place on Tuesday next at noon.


ONE of Canon Christopher Unwin's favourite stories concerned the new vicar who arrived in the parish and preached the same sermon at his first three services. …

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