Obituary: Barton Turf clergyman the Rev Jonathan Peel was devoted to Norfolk

The Rev Jonathan Peel, who has died aged 77. Picture; Sam Robbins

The Rev Jonathan Peel, who has died aged 77. Picture; Sam Robbins - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

A man who played leading roles in many aspects of Norfolk life ranging from the Broads and wildlife to police and Scouts has died aged 77.

A picture from 1990 showing Margaret Thatcher talking to the late Jonathan Peel, who was chairman of

A picture from 1990 showing Margaret Thatcher talking to the late Jonathan Peel, who was chairman of the How Hill Trust at the time. Source: Library.

The Rev Jonathan Peel was most recently a priest at his home village of Barton Turf but was best known as chairman of the Broads Authority.

His full life included being a military medal-winning hero, chairman of the county's police committee, county commissioner for Norfolk Scouts and a former High Sheriff.

Lord Lieutenant for Norfolk Richard Jewson said: 'He was a remarkable man. I don't think I have heard anyone say an unkind word about him. He did endless good work. He devoted much of his life to good causes in Norfolk and was a great servant of the county.'

London-born Mr Peel was a descendant of Sir Robert Peel, former British prime minister who established the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1829.


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He was educated at the Norwich School and Eton College before joining the army in 1955.

Mr Peel was posted to Malaya a year later with the Rifle Brigade and became a captain.

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He was awarded the Military Cross aged 20 in 1957 for gallant and distinguished service in hunting Malaya terrorists.

Later on he was with the Ghana Army, as part of the United Nations' Force in the Congo, and the Green Jackets in Cyprus.

After leaving the forces in 1966 he achieved an MA in land economy from St John's College, Cambridge, in 1970.

Mr Peel has lived at Barton Turf since 1945 and was a keen countryman, interested in the Broads, farming, forestry and conservation, keeping Norfolk churches and villages thriving, and choral singing.

He was described as a devoted family man and was married to Jeanie, 73, for nearly 50 years. The couple had four girls and one boy, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Within Norfolk County Council he was chairman of the police committee between 1984-89 and elected deputy leader of the Conservative group in 1993.

He was Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk from 1981-2005 and High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1984.

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett described Mr Peel as an excellent and honorable man who was 'a joy to work with'.

He co-founded the Norfolk Churches Trust in 1983 and was involved in the National Trust between 1982 and 2002, during which time he was deputy chairman of the trust.

Ben Cowell, National Trust regional director for the east of England, said: 'He was generous with both his time and knowledge, making an invaluable contribution to the National Trust.'

Mr Peel was county commissioner of Norfolk Scouts from 1977-81 and was described as a leading figure in the movement.

He was also fondly thought of as chairman of the Broads Authority between 1983-97.

Later in life, Mr Peel was ordained as a priest for the Horning Benefice in 2001.

Rev Sandra Ellison, who worked with him, said he was humble, reflective and caring.

Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said: 'Jonathan was one of the most gracious men I have ever met and one of the most modest. That's why people loved him.'

Mr Peel died at home on December 11 and his funeral is on Monday December 22 at 11am in St Michael and All Angels church in Barton Turf.

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