Colin Weale: Vicar and medieval church historian

A historian and priest, Colin Weale, who has died has aged 84, became an expert about the early medieval church.

For almost 20 years after retiring to Caistor, near Great Yarmouth, he was fully involved in his local church and community.

Colin Alexander Weale, who was born in 1926, was the son of an agricultural engineer in Mid-Wales. He was about 14 years old when he decided to enter the church and read history at St David's College, Lampeter and theology at Sarum College.

He became a deacon in 1951 and was a curate at Swansea when he met his wife, Joyce, who was an organist at Brecon Cathedral. They were married in 1956, when he had become a canon at the cathedral.

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After spending a further 10 years in Wales, he moved to Hertfordshire in 1961 as rector of Holy Trinity Church, Bengeo, St Albans. And his commanding presence and authority helped on one instance when a thief, armed with a crowbar, was attempting to break into the offertory boxes. He made a citizen's arrest and drove the man to the nearest police station.

His wife was one of the first year's intake of students with the Open University after it had been founded in 1971. And he resumed his academic studies, also with the Open University to be awarded his MPhil in 1987 for research into a 13th cleric.

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In retirement, he obtained his doctorate at Middlesex University in 1996.

He was particularly proud to have been awarded a student of theology degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury for a dissertation.

After moving to Norfolk, he was given permission to officiate in 1993 and soon immersed himself in church and local affairs. He was a keen supporter of the nearby John O'Gaunt Special School for many years.

He leaves a widow, Joyce, and three children, Martin, Karen and Nigel, and two grandsons.

A funeral service will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Caister, Great Yarmouth, on Thursday, April 14 at 2pm.

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