Feuding clergy, allegations of financial impropriety, and calls by The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Bishop of Lincoln for senior resignations being ignored formed the background to Alec Knight’s selection as Dean of Lincoln in 1998.

Born into an ecclesiastical family on 24th July 1939, he was educated at Taunton School and St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, followed by Wells Theological College.

In 1962, he married his soulmate Sheelagh, and the year later became ordained, becoming a Curate for Hemel Hempstead, where he oversaw the parish for three years.

In 1968, he became a Chaplain at his alma mater, Taunton; Director of the Bloxham Project to train school chaplains; and Director of Studies on the Aston Training Scheme, creating a foundation course for the church’s ministry. Numerous appointments followed throughout his career as a Governor, Trainer, Examiner, and Marlborough College Council and General Synod Education Board Member.

Basingstoke Gazette: Dr Alec Knight when he was at Hemel HempsteadDr Alec Knight when he was at Hemel Hempstead (Image: Susannah Priestly)By then, he was a much-experienced and admired Theologian who could always, in a down-to-earth manner, carry out a rational analysis of the need for faith.

In 1983, he was welcomed as a priest in charge of Easton and Martyr Worthy. In that capacity, he earned an enviable reputation for the relevance of his sermons.

In 1991, he was made Archdeacon of Basingstoke and a Winchester Cathedral Residentiary Canon, living at No. 1, The Close, where the much-neglected garden was restored, and his home became a sanctuary where you were assured of a warm welcome and a glass of good wine.

Then came the greatest challenge of all, in 1998, to take over as Dean of a struggling Lincoln Cathedral.

As the outsider, he was not universally welcomed, and he was initially given a rough ride by some cathedral clergy on commencing his role. Still, with persistence, humility, and logic, he prevailed to re-establish the Cathedral’s standing. After an assessment of its suitability, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth agreed to distribute Maundy Money there.

For his success, Lincoln University bestowed on him a doctorate, and he was awarded the OBE. However, for many, the ultimate accolade was to have his face carved on a tracery by Lincoln’s Dean’s Eye – he stands 40 metres up on the north face with his iconic wink petrified.

He retired in 2006 to Whiteparish near Salisbury. There he yet again made his mark. His first task was to sort out Sarum College, Salisbury. The college’s reputation had deteriorated, the financial situation was dire, and the buildings needed modernising. He relinquished the Chair in 2017.

Basingstoke Gazette: Alec and Sheelagh during their 60th wedding anniversaryAlec and Sheelagh during their 60th wedding anniversary (Image: Susannah Priestly)He was then nominated as Dean of the Order of St John, where he was made a Knight of Grace and was awarded the Cross of Merit.

He was outstanding both as a committed Anglican and a friend to all. He was not only a ‘teacher’ but also a realist in his innate ability to sort out, with persistence, humility, and logic, an inefficient organisation.

A man chosen for the moment with few as capable. Many a soul sought his good guidance.

He sadly died as a result of cancer on November 21, 2023. His legacy and life are lovingly cherished by his wife Sheelagh and their four children.