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Chambers, Winifred Marian (1888–1979)

by George Chambers

It was in England, during World War I that Winifred Marian Rice – daughter of Canon and Mrs W. Talbot Rice of Swansea, Wales, met Rev. G. A. Chambers, an A.I.F. Chaplain, Rector of Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, N.S.W., and founder of Trinity Grammar School.

The friendship flourished in France where she was doing social work among convalescent soldiers, not far from where her A.I.F. Chaplain was stationed. They were married at Swansea on December 6th 1919 and left for Australia two months later. During the following years she was actively occupied in the work of the parish and Trinity. Many of the boarders will remember the very pleasant Sunday evenings spent in the Founder’s lounge.

She had two sons – Talbot, born in 1921 and Roland, in 1923.

In February 1926 Rev. G. A. Chambers was nominated for the Bishopric of Central Tanganyika and he was eventually consecrated on 1st November 1927. It was decided that it would be wiser for Mrs Chambers and the boys to live in England so this was arranged.

Mrs Chambers made frequent trips to Africa where she faced the hazards of trekking around the countryside. One of these trips took her to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – a feat few women had ever accomplished. She also visited Australia in 1936.

When World War II commenced in 1939, the Bishop was in Tanganyika, and Mrs Chambers was in England, and it was six years before they were reunited.

In 1946 she and the Bishop went to Africa to say farewell to the Diocese, the official retirement of the Bishop taking place in September 1946. In 1947, after a short stay in England, she went to Paris as the Bishop had been appointed Chaplain to the British Embassy Church. Eight years were spent in Paris where, true to their usual custom, a friendly, warm welcome was given to any visitors.

After a trip to Australia, she returned to England with the Bishop, who had agreed to help the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church at Windsor. This suited Mrs Chambers very well for she had spent the war years in this area. In 1959 she was back in Africa, the Bishop having been appointed Chaplain to the Church at Iringa. After leaving Iringa, she returned to Australia where the Bishop had a busy time with the School’s Jubilee Celebrations.

On medical advice, the Bishop settled down, having bought a cottage at Epping to be near his son Roland, who had graduated in medicine and was practising in Eastwood. He died there on 5th December 1963.

Mrs Chambers, whose main interest was the work of the Church of England, was also a keen stamp collector and botanist, so it was not surprising to find the cottage at Epping surrounded by a most attractive garden. I still have a fuchsia, which grew from a cutting from that garden – we call it “Aunt Winifred”. She was a great correspondent and had contacts all over the world; she had a great sense of humour. Surprisingly, she was very interested in current affairs and the political scene.

The cottage at Epping became too much for her to manage so she moved to a flat in Turramurra. In 1974, failing eyesight made it hazardous for her to be living alone, so she left the flat and entered a nursing home.

She passed away quietly on 21st January 1979. To those who knew her, she will always be remembered as a cultured, gracious, warm-hearted gentlewoman.

Original publication

  • Triangle (Summer Hill, NSW), December 1979, p 19

Citation details

George Chambers, 'Chambers, Winifred Marian (1888–1979)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/chambers-winifred-marian-27507/text34908, accessed 13 December 2017.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2017

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Rice, Winifred Marian
Birth

21 September 1888
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Death

21 January 1979
Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

pneumonia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence