Remembering Venerable George Austin

George and Bobbie at St Luke's Church in York in 2009, the day they said goodbye before moving to Bushey. Photo by ©Martin Sheppard
George and Bobbie at St Luke's Church in York in 2009, the day they said goodbye before moving to Bushey. Photo by ©Martin Sheppard

A former Vicar for St Mary the Virgin C of E Church in Eaton Bray has passed away aged 87.

Venerable George Austin born in Lancashire, passed away at his home in Hertfordshire on Wednesday, January 30.

From left: the Venerable Leslie Stanbridge (Archdeacon of York 1972-88), the Venerable Richard Seed (Archdeacon of York 1999 ' 2013), the Venerable Charles Forder (Archdeacon of York 1957-72), the Venerable George Austin (Archdeacon of York 1988-99). Taken in 2007. Photo by �Martin Sheppard

From left: the Venerable Leslie Stanbridge (Archdeacon of York 1972-88), the Venerable Richard Seed (Archdeacon of York 1999 ' 2013), the Venerable Charles Forder (Archdeacon of York 1957-72), the Venerable George Austin (Archdeacon of York 1988-99). Taken in 2007. Photo by �Martin Sheppard

He was ordained in 1955 and studied for ordination at Lampeter, the final years of his curacy, from 1961, were spent at Dunstable Priory, which he described as “four of the happiest years of my life”.

It was there that he met his wife Roberta Thompson, also known as Bobbie, she was a teacher at a school next to the crematorium. The couple were engaged after six days and got married in 1962, they had one son, Jeremy. Bobbie became his secretary in York and she was even more opposed to female priests than her husband.

In 1964, he was appointed Vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church of England, before moving to St Peter’s in Bushey Heath in 1970. He succeeded the Ven Leslie Stanbridge as Archdeacon of York in 1988 and became a Canon and Prebendary of York.

He retired in 1999 and when his wife’s health began to fail the couple moved back to Bushey Heath to be close to Jeremy and his young family in 2009. After Bobbi died in 2016, George moved into a care home, for the last couple of years of his life.

George, who was a columnist for the Dunstable Gazette in the 1960s, was known to be outspoken during his years with the Church and even after he retired. He opposed the ordination of women priests, insisted that the Prince of Wales could not become King because of his admitted adultery and criticised David Cameron for lending support to parents who lied about their faith to secure the best education for their children.