Canon John Thurmer RIP

Sunday 25th January. It is with great sadness that we announce the passing this morning of our beloved Canon John Alfred Thurmer. Canon John was deeply loved by all and will be sorely missed.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

The Requiem Funeral for Canon John will take place at St Michael’s at 2.30pm on Monday 9th February, with refreshments and time for conversation afterwards at the church. All are welcome.

Canon Thurmer

A brief appreciation of Canon Thurmer, taken mainly from his own words for his “Friends of St Michael’s” entry.

John Thurmer, born 31 December 1925, died 25 January 2015, was Canon Emeritus of Exeter Cathedral and Honorary Assistant Priest of the Parish of St David’s with St Michael & All Angels, Exeter.

John was at school in Essex (Witham and Chelmsford). He was called up into the army in 1944; in the Royal Engineers his official army trade was Railway Clerk CIII. He was posted to the Middle East (Egypt and Palestine) and spent two years in Jerusalem, where he narrowly escaped terrorist bombing.

After three years at Oxford (Oriel College) and two years at Theological College, he was ordained and served a three year curacy in the modern Newham (outer east London). He lectured at a Theological college for nine years, and came to Exeter in 1964 to be the first Lazenby Chaplain to the University, with some part-time teaching. From 1973 to 1991 he was a residentiary Canon of Exeter Cathedral.

When he retired from the Cathedral, he acquired a house in the parish of St David with St Michael & All Angels. The Vicar left at Easter 1991 and the Archdeacon of Exeter asked him to help the non-stipendiary curate, Father Peter Lee, with parish work during the interregnum. The new Vicar, John Henton, and his successor, Tom Honey, asked him to continue as an honorary assistant priest, and as such he served both churches and congregations for 24 years.

Canon John wrote various articles, reviews and obituaries, and four short books, two of which are still available. A life-long interest of his was the work of Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote popular detective novels in the 1920′s and 1930′s and whom he knew (or knew of) at Witham, Essex. His books published by the Dorothy L. Sayers Society are Reluctant Evangelist and A Detection of the Trinity.

Firm in belief and generous in spirit, John Thurmer was deeply loved at St Michael’s, Mount Dinham, for his wit and wisdom, his pastoral interest in all, and his lucid and entertaining preaching founded in a deep knowledge of theology and history, lightly worn. Within the church’s website, his liturgical knowledge is enshrined in the St Michael’s Consuetudinary, and his precision of thought in the Glossary.

David Beadle, current Curator of the St Michael’s Lectures, also writes, “As many of you will already be aware, the Reverend Canon John Alfred Thurmer, who ran the lectures along with Connie Cannon for some years, died Sunday morning. He priested in Exeter for a long time, having been Lazenby Chaplain at Exeter University, Canon Chancellor at the Cathedral for 17 years, and in his retirement was at St Michael’s even longer, where he continued to preach his popular sermons without notes until a few weeks ago. I understand that he was very much himself up to his death: deeply kind and caring, with a razor-sharp intellect and inimitable quick wit. Along with Fr John Hughes, he will be very sorely missed.”

There is a tribute to Canon Thurmer in the Exeter Express & Echo.

And an appreciation in Exeter Cathedral News, February 2015, by Heather Morgan.

The Obituary from the Church Times was written by Dr David Grumett.

And in the Telegraph newspaper.

Vespers of the Dead, for Canon Thurmer, were sung at St Michael’s Mount Dinham at 6pm on Tuesday 27th January.

RB (Picture credit: Andrea Burridge Photography, 2010)