Waldringfield: Final voyage for popular clergyman Rev John Waller

The Reverend John Waller

The Reverend John Waller - Credit: Archant

Escorted on the Deben estuary by a five-strong flotilla, one of England’s last surviving sailormen, the late Rev John Pretyman-Waller, made his last voyage to Waldringfield on yesterday’s afternoon tide.

His coffin went on board his motor fishing vessel Jesus to Ramsholt, then almost to Woodbridge before returning to his home parish for a thanksgiving service in All Saints’ Church.

It attracted a congregation that also filled a nearby hall and marquee.

Mr Waller was mate of Britain’s last cargo-carrying pure sailing barge, coming ashore to complete 150 years that he and his forbears served as parsons of an ancient port.

He was rector of Waldringfield, holding freehold of the living until his death aged 72. He worked for a time in the foundry of Ipswich engineers Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, then offered himself for ordination. Accepted, he studied at Durham and Salisbury but decided to go back to secular life.

He next made £150 a week (when farm workers earned £9) as a labourer helping to dig tunnels under the North Sea from Sizewell nuclear power station.

Despite the big money he was leaving behind, John switched to being a lay worker with the Missions to Seamen (now Mission to Seafarers) at Tilbury, Middlesbrough and Port Kembla, Australia.

Accepted a second time as a candidate for ordination, he served as a curate at Ipswich before following his father, grandfather and great-grandfather as rector of Waldringfield.

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He was also rector of two neighbouring parishes, Hemley and Newbourne.

Mr Waller was born at Debenham vicarage. He celebrated his 72nd birthday on January 13 last year and died on December 22.