This article was written by Michael Andrews-Reading for the Amersham Society/Amersham Museum newsletter in 2006 and is reproduced here with permission.
The life and ministry of the Revd Allan Campbell, Rector of Amersham-with-Coleshill from 1963 to 1986, was remembered during a service at St Mary’s Church, Old Amersham on Sunday the 4th of June. Mr Campbell served during a time of considerable change both within the parish and the Church of England. His incumbency saw the creation of the new parish of Amersham-on-the-Hill (St Michael’s), and the removal of Little Chalfont (St George’s, White Lion Road) into a new combined parish with Chenies.
Allan Campbell was born on the 27th of March 1914, and studied at Selwyn College and Westcott House, Cambridge. He graduated B.A. in 1936, and received his M.A. in 1940. After ordination in 1938, he spent a year as curate at Crosthwaite in Cumbria. In 1939 he was priested and, with the outbreak of war, became a chaplain with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, where he served until 1946. After leaving the Navy, he became Rector of Bletchley in north Buckinghamshire, remaining there for seventeen years, during the last seven of which he was Rural Dean. Additionally, he was a member of the Oxford Convocation (the forerunner of the present Synod) from 1955 until 1969.
On 1 June 1963, Mr Campbell was presented to the living of Amersham-with-Coleshill by the then-patron, Captain Francis Tyrwhitt-Drake. He was also appointed Chaplain to Amersham General Hospital.
Much vigour was expended in the parish in support of the fabric of St Mary’s church, Old Amersham. Under Allan Campbell’s leadership, the church underwent a thorough restoration. Sebastian Comper oversaw the whitewashing of the walls, the re-painting of the chancel and the re-ordering of the seating. The present, mediaeval font was obtained, the bells re-cast and re-hung and the Drake Monument Room converted into a chapel for use by the parish. In all his parochial endeavours, he enjoyed the strong support of his wife, Freda. Wider changes also took place during Mr Campbell’s time in Amersham. In 1965 St George’s Church, Little Chalfont was detached from Amersham, and combined with the parish of Chenies. More eventful was the proposed detachment of St Michael’s church in Amersham-on-the-Hill, to form its own parish; this eventually took place in 1973. In 1986, arrangements were finally approved for the erection of the new Rectory, on Church Mead in the Old Town.
Allan Campbell was a clergyman very much in the traditionalist mould. He was a staunch supporter of the Book of Common Prayer, and based much of his leadership style on what he was familiar with from his naval days. He was wont to liken the Church to a ship, and to his position as that of Captain; accordingly, he was accustomed to give firm leadership, and expected to be followed. At the same time, when the Church of England began to produce modern-language liturgies in the early 1970s, he was prepared to experiment with these, if only to confirm that they were not to his liking.
In 1986, having secured the future of the new Rectory, Mr Campbell retired from the active ministry, returning to Cumbria, where he settled at Bridge House, Cockermouth and was licensed to officiate at services in the Diocese of Carlisle. He died in 2005, at the age of 91, having been predeceased by Mrs Campbell.