Ken Green

Kenneth Green 1932-2024

On 22 April 2024, Ken Green, CHSB Old Boy and local historian died, aged 91, in St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

Ken was a proud Cicestrian, being born in this fair city in October 1932 and receiving the classic education for a Chichester boy – Central Junior Boys then Chichester High School for Boys.

Photo caption – Ken Green at the launch of his Otter Memorial Paper on St Mary’s Hospital, at St Mary’s in 2013

He married Sheila Weston (also a Cicestrian) in October 1953 and, apart from a brief move to Croydon from whence they returned in 1963, they lived in Chichester all their lives, and raised their family here. Ken worked for himself preparing planning drawings for house extensions in which he often engaged his old friend Garry Long (another Old Boy) as an assistant.

Ken will be principally remembered for founding Chichester Local History Society. The inspiration had come to him on a family visit to Upper Beeding where he spotted a poster advertising a meeting of the Bramber and Beeding Local History Society. He remarked in the car on the way home how strange it was that a place the size of Beeding should have a local history society whereas Chichester hadn’t, to which his 13-year old son Giles (who also duly attended CHSB) retorted pragmatically, “well, start one”. And that’s exactly what Ken did; beginning with a letter to the Chichester Observer to gauge what interest there might be and calling an initial meeting for  14 November 1984 at the New Park Centre. The support was overwhelming, and there were not enough chairs to go round. Appropriately the room they had booked was one in which Ken had been taught over 40 years previously!

As a local historian Ken published six books about Chichester, three were collections of old photographs, and the others were An Illustrated History of Chichester, The Hospital of St Mary, Chichester (an Otter Memorial Paper) and The Street Names of Chichester.  He also contributed no fewer than 19 articles to Chichester History and in 2010 authored the first New Chichester Paper which was about the day in 1944 the Liberator bomber crashed on Chichester, an event he had witnessed as a boy. Three years later he wrote another New Chichester Paper, this time about the Second World War bombings of Chichester.

Ken was heavily involved in St George’s church in Whyke and first sat on the PCC at the age of 22 and served several times as churchwarden.  Indeed he wrote a book of instructions for churchwardens; a manual which was essential reading for all who were rashly considering taking on this onerous task. It is still in print.

Over his long life Ken had amassed a formidable collection of books and ephemera about Sussex and Chichester in particular. This included his famous ‘box’ which was a collection of photographs of Chichester ; a veritable goldmine which he made freely available for fellow authors such as myself to plunder. He was also a fount of knowledge about his native city and was an essential consultee for researchers into 20th century Chichester. Not long before he died he very generously invited me to his house in Cleveland Road to choose books and documents from his collection before he began to dispose of it. Many important items were added to the Grumpium collection that day.

Possibly less well known is that Ken was a skilled artist, working in both watercolour and oils and his conservatory served not only his studio but also a gallery of his work. Sheila had died back in May 2013 which was a major blow but Ken carried on living in Cleveland Road and remained active in the church and, after a break, took up his painting again. His long service to local history, St George’s church and the restoration of St Mary’s churchyard was officially marked in March 2018 by a Civic Award from Chichester City Council of which he was justly proud.

Sadly, of recent times, increasing age began to take its toll and he became very ill over the past year, involving spells in hospital in between which he was looked after at home by his family.

Now both of us being Greens, and both having published books on Chichester, our identities were often confused, or it would be assumed that we must be related. As it happens we were not related: it was just a happy coincidence that we were both Cicestrians, both went to the same schools (albeit at different times) and neither of us ever saw the need to move away from the city of our birth.

He was buried, in accordance with his wishes, at a private ceremony at St Mary’s churchyard,  but his life was celebrated at a memorial service at St George’s Whyke on 18 May. A notable Cicestrian has been lost and one who will be sorely missed by many in this city.

Alan H J Green

May 2024