Herbert Taylor Batey (M 59-64). His son Jonathan writes:

“Herbert Batey, younger brother to Keith, was born on 2nd Aug. 1922 in Carlisle to Stan and Elsie Batey. Stan, a veteran of World War 1, worked in the family business, a fish and game merchants in Carlisle. The business had to close, so during the 1930s Elsie kept the family on her modest wage as a primary teacher.

The boys both attended Carlisle Grammar School. From there Herbert won a scholarship to Queen’s College Oxford to read physics, matriculating in April 1941. On 3rd December, 1941, he became engaged to Celia Dunstan, whose father, Victor, was headmaster of the Grammar School.

Herbert completed his degree in four terms and was assigned to the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. It was absorbing and vital work, calculating the flight paths of rockets and bombs, but he had other concerns as well. While still an atheist he approached the college chaplain to ask about confirmation. Expecting a warm welcome, he was startled when the chaplain asked why he wanted this. The response, that it was something that seemed very important to Celia, was not good enough for the wise chaplain. They began life-changing discussions. Herbert was confirmed in February 1942.
The chief of Bomber Command, ‘Bomber’ Harris, came to Farnborough to give a pep talk in the autumn of 1943. Herbert’s team were analysing evidence about clusters of incendiary bombs – would they simply bounce off roofs? He finished with an exhortation: ‘You chaps get your sums done, and we (the bombers) will make the German home-fires burn this Christmas’. Herbert was shaken, and he began to ask himself: ‘Do I want to spend the rest of my life doing that sort of thing?’ The answer was ‘NO!’ In 1944 he decided to offer himself for ordination. He wanted to be a pastor.

Herbert and Celia married on July 28th 1945. Soon afterwards he returned to Oxford to read theology, and then to Lincoln Theological College. He was ordained priest on 25th September 1949.

His first livings were in the Carlisle diocese: two curacies and then in 1952 a parish, Cleator Moor. He also served on Cumberland County Council. In 1956 Celia became ill with polio, which left her greatly weakened. For a long time thereafter she grew a little stronger each year, but she never regained the physical health she had before polio. Mentally though, she was a source of great strength to Herbert. She was his rock, his sure foundation; although many people would have thought it entirely the other way around.

In 1959 Herbert was invited to apply for the post of chaplain to St Bees School, where he also taught divinity and mathematics. Three of his grandchildren were to attend the school a generation later. In 1964 Herbert moved to Culham College as chaplain. He became Senior Lecturer in divinity, and then Principal Lecturer. After the term of his chaplaincy he accepted unpaid duties as Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Culham.

In 1975 he became Vice-Principal of the Combined College of Ripon and York St John, steering the Ripon campus through difficult times. He loved to walk with friends in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, though he always considered the Lake District to be superior. He retired from the college in August 1987. A year previously the Dean of Ripon had asked if he would be available to “look after” St Michael’s Littlethorpe. He did so for twenty years, always walking the couple of miles between Ripon and Littlethorpe whenever possible. It was by far his longest period of continuous ministry.

He became ill in early 2007, only a few months after taking his last service at St Michael’s. After a short spell in hospital, he and Celia moved into Clova House Care Home, where they lived together for several years. During the past year he became increasingly frail, and he died peacefully at Clova on 9th July 2012. He is survived by his wife Celia, son Jonathan and daughter Ruth.”



The St. Beghian Society,    St. Bees School,    St. Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS.
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