Obituary: Basil Hazledine 9 November 2014

Eleanor Stoneham writes in commemoration of Basil Hazledine’s long life.

Basil Hazledine

It is with immense sadness that we have to report the death of Basil Hazledine.

I only came to know Basil towards the end of his life as we shared a common interest in the promotion of respect between the three Abrahamic faiths. I had come across his most recent book Abraham, A Bridge so Near, through a mutual friend and at Basil’s request I visited him to discuss yet more ideas which he was incubating. Sadly much will not now come to fruition.

Basil Hazledine was born at the end of WW1 to an army chaplain and into a missionary family. He was educated at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate where he was later a governor, and then at St Peter’s Hall, University of Oxford where he was a Mathematics scholar for two years before reading for a Theology degree. He then trained at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and was ordained priest in 1944, becoming the fifth generation of his family to serve in the ministry of the Church of England. He always regretted not going to the front in WW2 but trained as an army padre and during the war was strongly involved with the moral rearmament movement and with reconciliation work, which was to become a major theme of his life.

For forty years, he served as parish priest in several parishes in England, as far afield as the East End of London (his first posting, immediately post war), the Sussex coast and Newcastle under Lyme, but he loved most of all the little rural parishes in Suffolk where he spent the final years of his parish ministry. Through his ministry he became increasingly involved in ecumenical work and pioneered an ecumenical partnership between Anglicans and Methodists, becoming a Member of the Lichfield Diocesan Council for Mission and Unity. In retirement he was asked by Chelmsford diocese to undertake further ecumenical research, resulting in the publication of a guide for those involved in the inauguration and operation of local ecumenical projects. Free from full time parish ministry he continued to involve himself fully in church life, and to actively pursue his many other interests, which ranged from music (including the training and conducting of choirs for 60 years) to the layout and geography of pre-Beeching railways. He had a lifelong love of railways and maps.

He had been interested in interfaith dialogue for over 20 years and Abraham, A Bridge so Near (reviewed in On Religion in Issue 3, Summer 2013) was the outcome of research over that time.

His wife of 59 years, Grace, passed away in 2008 on her 92nd birthday and he leaves behind two daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren, one born since his death. In the words of his eldest grandson, from the Service of Thanksgiving for his life, Basil was a kind man, a wise man, a family man but above all a man of God. We offer our condolences to his family. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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About Eleanor Stoneham

Dr Eleanor Stoneham is author of 'Why Religions Work' and 'Healing This Wounded Earth'.

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