Obituary: Bishop David Galliford

The Rt Rev David Galliford, who has died at 96, served as treasurer of York Minster and, before that, as rector of Bolton Percy, near Tadcaster, before becoming the Bishop of Hulme and then of Bolton.

Bishop David Galliford

The Rt Rev David Galliford, who has died at 96, served as treasurer of York Minster and, before that, as rector of Bolton Percy, near Tadcaster, before becoming the Bishop of Hulme and then of Bolton.

Bishop Galliford won an open scholarship in organ music to Clare College, Cambridge in 1943, though his studies were interrupted when he was called up for war duties. He served in Europe in the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards for the last two years of the war, before being posted as a prospective ordination candidate to the permanent staff of 8th Corps’ Church House in the Rhine Army area, where he played as church organist at the age of 20 in the Cloisters Church at Preetz, Schleswig Holstein.

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Returning to England, he resumed his studies before being ordained in May 1951. He was a curate at St John Newland in Hull, where he met his first wife, Enid Drax, who died in 1983. He was then appointed as a Minor Canon at St George’s, Windsor where he served between 1954 and 1956 and where his daughter, Clare, was born.

David Galliford was a modest man. Only at a family gathering many years later did he see fit to tell of the day when he escorted Winston Churchill to a service at St George‘s Chapel, listening to the former Prime Minister complain of the stuffiness of the atmosphere and asking him to open windows in the chapel which appeared to have remained fastened for several centuries.

He returned to Yorkshire, first as Vicar of St Oswald’s, Middlesbrough and then as Rector of Bolton Percy, a largely rural parish, where he learned quickly how long it took to become accepted at Bolton Percy – 18 months, more or less. On an early visit to a local farm he was directed into a field, where he saw the farmer by a fence, gazing into the distance. The farmer drew on his pipe and, without looking at the rector, said, “Ah’ll winter thee and ah’ll summer thee, and ah’ll winter thee again. Then ah’ll tell thee if tha’s alreet”.

In the late 1960s he was asked to lunch at the Dean Court in York with the then Archbishop, Donald Coggan. Midway through the meal the Archbishop waved in the general direction of the church of St Michael le Belfry, just opposite the hotel, and said that he wanted the then Rev Galliford to look after the finances of “the little church across the road”, which were apparently in dire straits. He was referring to the Minster itself, and so from 1970 he became its Canon Residentiary and treasurer.

Five years later he was consecrated as a bishop and installed as Bishop of Hulme at Manchester Cathedral, before becoming the inaugural Bishop of Bolton in 1984. He served in that capacity until he retired in 1991, serving also as Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of freemasons from 1990 to 1993.

An accomplished musician, he enjoyed a long and happy retirement in Thornton-le-Dale and then York, following his marriage to Claire Phoenix in 1987. He continued working part-time in various capacities, initially as an honorary assistant priest, but latterly on an informal basis, taking services well into his 90s in the chapel of the nursing home at Fulford to which he and Claire had retired. His guidance and wise counsel were sought by many, long after his retirement from any formal duties.

Claire died last year and he is survived by his daughter, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.