Sketch by Jack Chalker

Keeping the Faith

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John Leonard Wilson

All men are equal.

Over the centuries this Church will have witnessed and known of many who have, in their own ways, struggled and become great.

No man can tell of their struggle and achievement.

Leonard Wilson, known by his middle name, was a vicar in Eighton, Co Durham, he moved  late in 1934 with his wife Mary, shortly after his daughter Susan was born, to Hong Kong and then to Singapore, when he was sent as Bishop.

When the Japanese invaded, his wife Mary, their daughter Susan (aged eight) and two younger sons Timothy and Martin, escaped on a crowded boat to Australia where their third son James was born, Leonard stayed on in Singapore.

At the time of the fall of Singapore in February 1942, The Bishop, assisted by Rev. Reginald Keith Sorby Adams of Saint Andrew's School, Singapore and John Hayter, ministered unstintingly to the people of Singapore. Subsequently they were able to continue their ministry for a year, thanks mainly to the help of a Christian Japanese officer Andrew Ogawa. However the growing popularity of the Cathedral and the use of English was perceived by the Japanese authorities as a threat, and in 1943 the trio were interned in the notorious Changi prison.

    Arriving in Singapore Arriving in Singapore - Supplied by Stephanie Hesse

    Prisoner of War Prisoner of War

    The Double Tenth The Double Tenth

    A Broadcast Sermon A Broadcast Sermon by the Bishop of Singapore

    My Fathers Witness My Fathers Witness by Rev Canon Susan Cole-King

That peace was the knowledge of God and of man's capacity to love and forgive his torturers. He found the fundamental centre.

Later, as Dean of Manchester, Bishop of Birmingham, as a member of the House of Lords, Chairman of the Modern Churchman's Union and in so many different ways he tried to express that peace for others.

Some will remember the Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance and his dignity in presiding over that ceremony.

In the end peace came - although again there was suffering and uncertainty before death.

Askrigg and thousands of others subscribed that there should be a Memorial here in this place of peace to one who sought and found the Prince of Peace in the midst of life this porch and panelling are his Memorial.

Leonard Wilson died, aged 72 in this Parish on 18th August 1970 and his funeral service took place there on 21st August 1970 before cremation. His ashes lie at Bishopton, Co. Durham where he was born.

The Memorial Stone to the Bishop is set into the floor at the foot of the chancel steps, where marriage couples stand. It bears the inscription:-

John Leonard Wilson

1870 - 1970

Fourth Bishop of Birmingham

Sometime Bishop of Singapore

Confessor For The Faith

He said  that he came here to find his peace. It is our  hope and prayer and belief, that after a busy, giving and demanding life, as a parish priest and as a Bishop, be did find peace in Wensleydale.



Newspaper article supplied by Stephanie Hesse

Priest in Prison by John Hayter

Article ‘The Bishop’ sent to me by Ray Watson

Speech by Rev Canon Susan Cole-King


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[Keeping the Faith] [Arriving in Singapore] [Prisoner Of War] [The Double Tenth] [Sermon] [My Fathers Witness]


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