Sandringham’s Former chaplin to the Queen dies at home aged 87

Canon Gerry Murphy former Rector at Sandringham
Canon Gerry Murphy former Rector at Sandringham

A former chaplain to the Queen and rector of the Sandringham group of parishes, Canon Gerry Murphy, has died peacefully at his West Norfolk home, aged 87.

An international rugby player for Ireland, he was capped six times, winning his first cap in 1951 against South Africa at Lansdowne Road, Dublin.

After seven years at Sandringham, he left to take up the post of rector of Christ Church Cathedral, in Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands and was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in the Queen’s 1986 New Year Honours.

His widow, Joy, said: “I have had many, many letters. People have told me he was a very special man and when they were with him they felt better.

“He was a thoroughly good man, a wonderful husband and father and a devout Christian. He was a man of God.”

Born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, Rev Murphy joined the Irish Guards in 1944 before he went to Trinity College, Dublin, where he met his wife. He was ordained a deacon in 1952 and a priest a year later.

He graduated with a BA and became MA three years later. For three years, until 1955, he was curate of Lurgan. Then he became chaplain to the forces, serving in Korea, Malaya, Aden and Cyprus.

Between 1973 and 1975, he was assistant Chaplain General to the British Army of the Rhine. In his final posting, he was assistant Chaplain General for the Army’s south-east district, based at Aldershot.

In 1977 he became vicar of Ranworth and chaplain of the Broads. Two years later, he became domestic chaplain to the Queen.

In June 1986, Rev Murphy was appointed an honorary canon of Norwich Cathedral.

Rev Murphy remained in the Falkland Islands for five years, until 1991 when he became chaplain to the Tower of London.

In 1996, the Rev Murphy retired to Heacham.

He leaves his widow and five daughters – Maryan, Desiree, Nicola, Geraldine and Felicity – and 17 grandchildren.

Rev Murphy died on January 7. A funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Heacham, on Tuesday at 2pm.