Petworth mourns much-loved priest

MORE than 100 people from the Petworth area joined a congregation of over 1,000 mourners in Winchester Cathedral on Friday for the funeral of their former priest-in-charge, The Very Rev Michael Till.

Mr Till, aged 77 died suddenly at home in Petworth on December 4 and his death has left the town in shock.

He retired to Petworth with his wife Tessa in 2005 following nine years as Dean of Winchester, but came out of retirement to take over as priest in charge of Petworth and Egdean after the death of The Rev David Pollard.

Tributes have been led by Lord Egremont who said: “Michael Till made a huge contribution to life in Petworth, not only to St Mary’s church but to our Jubilee celebrations this year and in many, many other ways.

“We were very lucky that he and Tessa decided to come to live here.

“What a splendid, kind and humane man he was – a very good man as well. We will miss him greatly and it is hard to imagine the town without him.”

The Rev Tim Wright who took over from Mr Till in 2009 said: “Michael was a very active member of all parts of community life.

He was very much loved and respected by everyone. The 14th century bishop of Winchester William Wykeham coined the motto ‘manners maketh man’ and this was Michael. He was loved by all, always kind and very courteous.”

Jeremy Franks, secretary of the Petworth Royal British Legion said: “He was a man of great charm and character.

“He gave us the form of our annual Remembrance service which he used at Winchester Cathedral.

“He was an amazing individual and we will always remember him through this service.”

Robin Bryant who took over from Mr Till as chairman of Petworth Festival said: “Michael’s death was a great shock to us all.

“He had only just stepped down as chairman after two very successful years.

He was a great enthusiast and very keen to involve the community, particularly the school children, and to great effect.”

He was Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, vicar of Fulham and area Dean of Hammersmith from 1981-1986 and Archdeacon of Canterbury from 1986-1996.

Mr Till leaves his wife Tessa, son Tobias, daughter Sophie and four grandchildren Seamus, 10, Faye, 8, Jacob,7, and Theo, 4.