Richard Howard (priest)

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Provost Howard (left) with Winston Churchill in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, 28 September 1941

Richard Thomas Howard (12 June 1884[1] – 1 November 1981[2]) was an Anglican priest and author.[3] During the Coventry blitz on November 14–15, 1940 he went on the roof to try save the cathedral but when lots of incendiary bombs came flying down he had no choice but to rescue some important artefacts and then retreat to his Anderson shelter. He is particularly remembered for advocating forgiveness and reconciliation, having 'Father Forgive' inscribed in the ruined chancel of the Cathedral (rather than 'Father Forgive them', the words of Jesus on the Cross) to remind us that we all need forgiveness, not just those who have harmed us, and for his determination to rebuild a Cathedral which would speak of Christ's resurrection, as the old one mirrored his Crucifixion. With the City Council he led the way in town twinning, beginning with Kiel, which had been similarly bombed.

Howard was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1908[4] and began his ministry as chaplain of his former Cambridge college. In 1912 he went to St. John's College, Agra for the Church Missionary Society (CMS). From 1913 to 1918 he was Vice-Principal of St Paul’s Divinity School, Allahabad and from then until 1929 was the Principal of St Aidan’s College, Birkenhead. After four years as Vicar of Luton he became Provost of Coventry Cathedral,[5] a position he held for 25 years. From 1941 to 1946 he was also Archdeacon of Coventry.


  1. ^ Who was Who 1897-1990 London, A & C Black, 1991 ISBN 0-7136-3457-X
  2. ^ "The Very Rev R. T. Howard", The Times, 4 November 1981, p12
  3. ^ Among other books he wrote “Ruined and Rebuilt: the story of Coventry Cathedral”, 1962, and “Behold Your God”, 1969, British Library website. This book was read by many.
  4. ^ ”The Clergy List” London, Kelly’s, 1913
  5. ^ The Times, 6 January 1933, p15.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Cyril Evelyn Morton
Provost of Coventry Cathedral
Succeeded by
Harold Claude Noel Williams
Preceded by
Richard Brook
Archdeacon of Coventry
Succeeded by
Leonard Stanford