Percy Dearmer

The ashes of Percy Dearmer, Canon of Westminster and professor of Ecclesiastical Art at King's College London, are buried in the north cloister of Westminster Abbey, with those of his second wife Nan. He was the author of books and pamphlets on church art and history and editor of the hymnbook Songs of Praise in 1931. His work The Parson's Handbook ran into many editions and he devised The English Hymnal to which composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst contributed. The inscription on the gravestone reads:

PERCY DEARMER D.D. CANON OF WESTMINSTER 1931-1936. BORN 1867 DIED 1936. In dulci jubilo. ALSO NAN HIS WIFE 1889-1979.

Percy was born in London on 27th February 1867, a son of Thomas Dearmer, a teacher, and his wife Caroline (Turner). His forebears were of French origin. He joined his brother Edgar at Westminster School and then was sent to a school in Switzerland. After studying at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was known for his flamboyant dress, he resided at Pusey House and was ordained.

On 26th May 1892 he married (Jessie) Mabel White and they had two sons Geoffrey (d.1996) and Christopher who was killed in 1915.

Percy was Vicar at St Mary's church Primrose Hill in London from 1901 to early 1916. During the Great War he served as chaplain to the British Red Cross in Serbia and Mabel died there of fever.

On 19th August 1916 he married Nancy Knowles. Their son Anthony was killed in the war and their daughters were Gillian and Imogen.

He died suddenly at his house in Little Cloister on 29th May 1936. Nan married secondly Sir John Sykes in Westminster Abbey in 1946 and she was buried with Percy on 22nd January 1979.

Further reading

"The Life of Percy Dearmer" by Nan Dearmer, 1941

"Percy Dearmer. A parson's pilgrimage" by Donald Gray, 2000

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


27th February 1867


29th May 1936




Cloisters; North Cloister

Memorial Type


Percy Dearmer
Percy Dearmer grave

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