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Fr. Cecil Champneys Burnham

1914 - 2002

Fr. Cecil Home Page




Father Cecil was born at Brixton Hill in November 1914 and went to school at Belmont College. After Secretarial College he was employed by the London and Lancashire Insurance Company for three years. There they had a Sports section outside office hours where he excelled in athletics becoming Victor Ludorum (which he had also been at school) - as a quarter miler. long and high jumper. At the end of three years he resigned and the office told him he was going from Life insurance to Fire insurance when he went to Kings College, London to take a Divinity course and where he became a Wordsworth Scholar in Latin.

His Ordination was on 24 September 1939 in Rochester Cathedral and as a deacon he served in Sidcup. He was priested in Tunbridge Wells on 22 September 1940 and later became assistant priest in Pembury, Kent, before going to Great Driffield in East Yorkshire, and subsequently he became Vicar of Watton with Beswick. Some years later the Archbishop of York appointed him as Vicar of Anlaby.

He married Done in 1945 and she was the greatest of help to him over the years. She died in 1982. in tragic circumstances.

After Yorkshire he came back to Sussex, first as assistant priest in Heathfield, then as Rector of All Saints, Hastings, where he served for eight years. This was followed by eight years as Vicar of Westham, Pevensev. Finally he became Rector of Harting for four years from where he retired after a heart attack. He went to live in Selsey where he served as an honorary assistant priest for twelve years during which time he served two Sequestration periods at Sidlesham. Over the years he gained something of a reputation as a preacher and as a fundraiser (known as the Prince of Beggars).

In 1989 he went to Gatwick in preparation for an Italian holiday, sat next to Sheila and married her nine months later. She suggested a quiet wedding in view of their ages and that he had been married previously. It happened in the end that there was a nuptial mass conducted by the Rt. Revd. Con Docker (the then Bishop of Horsham). with the aid of Fathers Cassam, Pollard, Nichol and Roncetti. three choirs and a large congregation.

His interests over the years included amateur dramatics for which wrote and took part in sketches and pantomimes. He published three books of his own verse and contributed to many verse anthologies.

Cecil and Sheila settled in Bognor Regis and regularly attended St. Wilfrid's Parish Church. Cecil  will be deeply missed by the congregation not only for his love and support for the work of the church as honorary assistant priest, but also for such things as his quite remarkable readings of scripture at morning services, his sermons and for his many contributions of poems to the monthly church magazine. A number of his poems and one of his last addresses (on the 60th anniversary of his ordination as a priest)  are included on this website.


Copyright 2000 [Rev. C. Champneys Burnham]. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 24, 2018 .