Hugh Palmer: North Walsham town mayor, Norfolk priest and railway missionary in Africa

Obit Hugh Palmer

Obit Hugh Palmer - Credit: Archant

A former town mayor of North Walsham and retired clergyman, the Rev Hugh Palmer, has died aged 84.

Born at Costessey, Hugh Maurice Webber Palmer was brought up in west Norfolk, at Narborough. His father, Fred, was a chartered accountant who was in practice at Bank Plain, Norwich for many years.

He went to a school in Devon and then Winchester College, before going up to Magdalene College, Cambridge. He then studied at Cuddesdon College in 1951 and was ordained in Winchester Cathedral three years later.

After three years as a parish priest, he joined the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Railway Mission in 1957. He went out to minister in two dioceses in Southern Rhodesia, which were among the 48 supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

As he travelled about by train, in special railway coaches, he held Sunday services regardless of the day of the week because it might be months before he returned. He was in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, at the time of Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.


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He returned to Norfolk having served for a total of 10 years, mainly in Rhodesia, to become rector of Hainford and priest-in-charge of Stratton Strawless in 1972, when he was instituted by the then Archdeacon of Norwich, the Ven Aubrey Aitken.

After 10 years in that post, he joined the Home Office's prisons' department as chaplain, serving at Stafford prison for two years, then Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, until 1989 before moving to Norwich prison as sub chaplain.

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He retired in 1991 but had been elected councillor for north Walsham two years earlier. After serving for a year as deputy mayor, he was elected unopposed at the annual town council meeting.

A funeral and service of thanksgiving will be held at North Walsham parish church on Tuesday, July 23 at 2pm, followed by burial.

Alex Hurrell

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