Tributes paid to former chaplain at UEA

TimGouldstone2006: Canon Dr Tim Gouldstone, until recently the Chaplain at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and since May 2005 the Rector of the Beckington Group of Churches in the Diocese of Bath & Wells, died peacefully on Sunday afternoon 12 November, 2006, having collapsed nine days earlier while out running. He never regained consciousness.  

He is survived by his wife Jane and his children Rebecca and David.

After graduating from Exeter University with a BSc (1968) and later an MSc (1976) Tim Gouldstone worked as a geologist in Devon for a number of years.  During those years he became a Reader in the Anglican Church before eventually being ordained in Deacon in 1978 after two years at Trinity College, Bristol.        

After his curacy at Christ Church Ware, he was Priest in Charge and later Vicar of Ansley near Coventry from 1981 to 1985. He went as Vicar of St Keverne near Truro serving in several positions in that Diocese until 2002. These included Prebendary of St Emillion from 1990 to 1999, Rural Dean of Powder (1996 to 2001). He was made an Honorary Canon of Truro Cathedral in 1996. For three yeas from 2002 he was the Chaplain to the UEA at Norwich, before moving to Bath & Wells Diocese where he served as Priest-in-Charge of the Beckington Group of Churches from May 2005 until his untimely death aged 60.

He gained his BD at London University in 1994 and went on to be awarded a Doctorate in Theology and History, publishing his thesis under the title “The Rise and Decline of Anglican Idealism in the 19th Century” (Macmillans). With his degrees in both science and theology Tim applied his gift for teaching to great effect as Director of Lay Training in the Truro Diocese from 1995 to 2002.  

He was delighted to be able to make his considerable range of teaching material available to the Training Department on coming to the Bath & Wells Diocese. His wide range of knowledge enabled him to build bridges between people and different groups and streams, especially between theology and science. He was a founder member of the Society of Ordained Scientists whose membership includes a number of distinguished scientists.  Tim acted as the editor of its journal for a number of years. He was delighted to find that Beckington had an Astronomical Society and thoroughly enjoyed attending its monthly meetings talking ‘shop’ with other members.

A fellow member of the Beckington church quiz team, St George’s Dragon, writes: “Tim genuinely deserved the title 'Renaissance man.' His range of interests was vast. As well as theology, he talked informatively about many things, including philosophy, cricket, Shakespeare, astronomy and the poetry of RS Thomas - and hugely impressed the pub quiz team with being able to come up instantly with the year the film Grease first came out!”

Tim loved his ministry in a series of rural parishes. Despite his academic bent he was able to talk with anyone, readily putting them at ease with his gentle and unassuming manner. He believed that his ministry was to the whole community within the benefice. He had a light touch and a ready sense of fun, and with an eye for the best in the liturgy known to each congregation he established a good rapport with each church. 

One of his church wardens in his last benefice writes: “In all his sermons he had the ability to apply Biblical principals and teaching to everyday situations in graphic and understandable ways for each of his congregations. His outstanding intellect and ability did not separate him from the everyday and ordinary, and he was always very friendly and approachable.”  

Over the past 18 months Tim entered with enthusiasm into what he saw as a fresh expression of church in the two small and ancient country churches of Orchardleigh and Lullington.   The former lies at the centre of a country estate in which the large Victorian house has become a wedding venue.  With the Bishop’s blessing Tim, together with the help of several retired clergy, took up the challenge of taking a great many weddings of couples from far afield who came to Orchardleigh and opted for a church wedding. Tim realized that this was an opportunity for these young people to experience church and Christian friendship when few had any such experience where they were living.   

Tim took great delight in finding out as much as he could about each couple and prepared each wedding sermon individually, often with great humour, so that each one suited the couple he was about to marry. He would present them with a copy of his talk after each service.   He was encouraged when this led to the occasional baptism, couples starting to go to their local church or when couples came back to a service on the anniversary of their wedding.   

This work featured in one of the episodes in the TV series Passion for Churches screened on BBC2 in spring 2006. Tim knew from the outset that the storyline would not reflect the real relationship between the churches and the owner of Orchardleigh House, but he welcomed the opportunity to co-operate with the producer in explaining this outreach opportunity.

With practical common sense his work as a school governor firstly in the Truro Diocese where he was Chairman of Governors at a secondary for some four years, and latterly as a Foundation Governor at two CofE primary schools at Beckington and Berkley was much appreciated. He was adept at talking to children and explaining the lesson with a picture, both on Sunday mornings and at the school assemblies he took each week.

Tim was held in high affection by all who knew him.   He had a real pastoral concern for everyone in his parishes and he will be greatly missed by the wide circle of people who knew him locally and from Norwich to Cornwall.

His funeral will be at St George's Church in Beckington at 12.30 on Wednesday 22 November.  It will taken by the Venerable Peter Maurice, lately Archdeacon of Wells and now Bishop of Taunton designate.  The Lord Bishop of Norwich will deliver the address as an old friend. 

By Edmund Phillimore


Tim's last letter in the Parish magazine for the Beckington Benefice can be seen at:
and click on view the current issue online - see page 3

Published: 20/11/2006