FRIENDS and colleagues of the former Archdeacon of Portsmouth who quit his position as dean of St Paul’s Cathedral over the anti-capitalist protests have called it a sad move.
As reported by The News yesterday, The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles said his position was becoming untenable and he was standing down to allow a ‘fresh approach’.
He became the third church official to resign over the issue of handling the protesters. After their arrival, the cathedral closed its doors for the first time since the Second World War on health and safety grounds.
Mr Knowles has close ties with the Portsmouth region, having held several posts at the city’s Anglican cathedral since 1981. He was vicar of St Francis, Leigh Park in the 1980s.
He was the last person to hold the role of Archdeacon of Portsmouth, from 1993 to 1999, before the position was split into two posts.
The Rev Bob White of St Mary’s Church in Fratton was in a neighbouring parish when Mr Knowles took up his role in Leigh Park in 1987 and the two have remained friends since.
He said: ‘We last saw each other in September and he was enjoying his job and getting along well. It’s sad that he’s had to resign and a great loss to the church.
‘Everyone had great respect for him during his time in Portsmouth diocese. He was a thoughtful and reflective person – he’s a very affable and good person.’
Bill Oliver, who is churchwarden at St Francis’ Church, Leigh Park, said: ‘He was a lovely vicar, quite a holy man, and we did get on very well.
‘He led services well – whatever he did, it was well thought-out. Everyone knew him in Leigh Park, because he believed in walking around the parish in his cassock and being available.
‘St Francis grew while he was there and a lot of new people came because they liked him as vicar.
‘He and his curate, Father Barry, made a good team. Graeme’s wife was a schoolteacher in Portsmouth and she got on with everybody as well. Everyone in the parish has followed his progress since he left, and held him in high esteem. It’s a shame what’s happened – very sad, especially as he’s such a lovely person.’