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Diarmaid MacCulloch remembers Owen Chadwick

Cambridge University Press and the Editors and Editorial Board of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History were very sad to hear of the death of the Rev. Prof. Owen Chadwick.  They express their deep gratitude particularly for the Journal in its sixty-five-year existence, and more generally for his unique contribution to the life of this country and of Christendom.  With his younger brother Henry, Prof. Chadwick was helpful to our Journal from its early days, and having joined the Board in 1958, subsequently served as Board Chairman; he kept a lively interest in its flourishing state, regularly attending Board meetings into his very last years.  Successive Editors have greatly appreciated his quiet, informed support, and the way that his understated but impish humour has helped to navigate them through some intricate situations.  Other obituarists are chronicling his services to Selwyn College, the University of Cambridge and to the institutional remoulding of the Church of England, all suitably recognised by Her Majesty’s award of the Order of Merit (of which he was the oldest living member at his death).  The breadth of his historical writing from John Cassian (1958) to Hitler (Britain and the Vatican in the Second World War, 1986) via a Norfolk country parson (Victorian Miniature, 1960), is an inspiring example to all ecclesiastical historians.  Students have cause to be grateful for the anchor works on the sixteenth-century Reformation, eighteenth-century Popes, the Victorian Church and finally all Christian history, which appeared throughout his career, all characterised by his inimitable literary style, which made a virtue of salty brevity.  The Journal is punctuated by his engaged and engaging reviews of successive volumes in that monumental work of reference the Theologisches Realenzyclopädie, and alert readers will notice how much that clearly enjoyable diaconal task for us informed his last substantial survey volume, The Early Reformation on the Continent (2001)It is a happy last memory of him to know that in his hundredth year of life and only a week before his death, he was able to attend and enjoy anniversary celebrations for Wolfson College, Cambridge, an institution by a few years less venerable than the Journal, and exactly half his own age.

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch

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