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Joan Maxwell Barclay
10th December 1930 - 21st April 2015
On Friday 29th May, 2015 at 11:30am a service of celebration of the life of Joan Maxwell Barclay was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
The Venerable David Meara delivered the bidding:-
Welcome to St Bride's this morning, and thank you for coming to celebrate Joan's life and to honour her memory.
Joan and David Barclay had a long association with this church, which they first attended forty years ago, drawn by its fine musical tradition. We remember today a special person, gentle but determined, loyal and upright, with a strong Christian faith which she shared with David, undergirded by a belief that this life is a preparation for the next, and that there are indeed better thigs to come.
It is with that faith and in that hope that we give thanks for Joan's life today as we commend her to the love and mercy of God, our maker and our Redeemer.
The Venerable David Meara
When I think of Joan I always think of David too, because they were so very much a partnership. But Joan was also very much a person in her own right. She was born in Cambridge and grew up there during the war-time years, but it was to Oxford that she went to study physiotherapy, changing direction to Occupatioal Therapy after persistent back problems ruled out her first career choice.
After travelling the world with a friend she settled back to work, and met David, an architect, eventually marrying and finally settling in Hillside Gardens in Highgate where they lived very happily for the rest of their lives.
Their later years were troubled by illness for both of them – Joan having to have treatment for bone cancer in her jaw, which she endured with patience and fortitude. She emerged cured only to have to cope with David’s final illness and death. Joan missed David terribly because they had been so close for so long, but her faith and her strength of character kept her going until she caught meningitis and died within a few days.
So we are left to mourn her, to remember her. When death comes, even to those who have lived a long and full life, we are shocked and affronted, because it seems to contradict what life at its most worthwhile has been about, loving and being loved. When we love the barriers between us melt and we grow into one another. So the closer we grow, the greater the pain. But we can take comfort today in the knowledge that Joan and David are reunited, that for them all separation is ended and barriers broken down. And we can all take heart and take hope from our Christian belief that Jesus Christ is for us, for Joan and for David, the Resurrection and the Life, the assurance of better things to come, a new life with God, reunited with all whom we have loved and lost. Faith transforms the parting of friends into the Communion of Saints.
I am glad and proud to have known Joan and David during my time at St Bride’s. They were great supporters of this church, and loved coming to Choral Evensong here. So it is appropriate that we include a sung Nunc Dimmittis in this service of thanksgiving. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant, Joan Barclay, depart in peace. Amen.
"One man in his time plays many parts," as Jaques muses, from Shakespeare's, "As You Like It". Joan was my favourite and closest aunt, but I don't presume to unfold in these short sentences the real extent of who she was as she and her late husband David touched many lives, some of whom are even able to be here today, but many that aren't. The Family have tried to put together some memories and thoughts about Joan to serve as what is probably a rather inadequate and patchy eulogy, but hope that this, together with the handful of photographs we have managed to gather on the back of the service sheet, will jog your own affectionate recollections of someone who we will all miss in many different ways.
Joan Maxwell Steen was born on 10”‘ Dec 1931 in Cambridge. She was the first child born to Stourton and Marjorie Steen, my grandparents. The family moved from Mill Road, in Cambridge, to 14 Barrow Road, also in Cambridge, soon after, where my father, Bill, was born, and where the family remained until Stourton retired. Joan eventually went to the Perse School for Girls, and was devoted to horses which she and her close friend, Meryl Ansell, whose family were great friends,and neighbours, spent hours either riding in Harston or playing with cut outs. She enjoyed her friends, which were many in Barrow Rd, where the new houses were mainly occupied by young academic families. During the war a bomb fell a few yards from the Anse||’s house making it unsafe, and so Meryl and her sister Juliet slept with Joan and her brother, Bill, on the floor in the reinforced scullery of Barrow Rd. Too young to really engage with the danger, the children never forgot the fun of those days and their dog, Jock, also thought this arrangement was marvellous. After the war, life in Cambridge, for a beautiful teenager like Joan, was pretty full, and she had an exciting round of parties and admirers. She studied to be a physiotherapist in Oxford but after slipping a disc, leading to many months lying flat on her back, she changed direction, and became an occupational therapist, a subject she enjoyed.
For many years she lived in a flat in Kensington with several friends. Once qualified and unattached she and another great friend, Jinny Handforth decided to tour the world. They shared an amazing adventure up the Alaskan Highway in Canada, where Jinny acquired a husky dog. This great interest in huskies continued for the rest of Jinny's life and of course Joan had a great interest too. Jinny sadly passed away 18 months ago, but Michael, Joan's cousin, got in touch with her sister, Camilla, who has written; ''I appreciated the choice of gifts that Joan gave to Jinny - they always seemed so appropriate. Many were the times when I complemented Jinny on something, and she replied "Joan gave me that"." Camilla added: ''I really felt for Joan when she had to have all that distressing treatment for her cancer, and admired her for coming through it."
Jinny and Joan then moved to Vancouver, from there hiring a car and driving to the Yukon, then West to Hong Kong and India before returning to England. Once back in England she returned to Barrow Road and she soon became engaged to David Barclay, an architect. Joan sadly broke off the engagement leading to a period of unhappiness for her which she eventually resolved by finally marrying the patient and loving David. However, she still managed to make a delightful family of teddy bears for her baby niece and nephew. They must have been well made as "Mummy Bear" has survived nearly fifty years, University living, umpteen house moves, her baby niece having babies of her own, and being savaged by the family dog! She still resides on a seat in our bedroom calmly surveying the merry chaos of family life.
There are one or two photographs of Joan and David's wedding on the back of the service sheet. The two cute members of the bridal party are my brother Pip and myself, (we were 3 and 4 at the time), and I am grateful to my father, Bill, for providing those pictures as that wedding was one of my earliest and fondest memories. I remember feeling extremely important and grown up, and terribly frustrated with all these adults who kept telling me I had to hold the veil a certain way, wasn't to let go of it or trip over it or put a foot out of place! Worst of all my brother was told firmly to look after me! Who did they think I was? I was, after all, three years old! Apparently, I refused to take the dress off and finally went to bed in it topped off with my mother's hat! Joan and David moved to a flat in Birmingham, which neither of them hoped would last too long and happily David was soon promoted to become the Secretary of the RIBA in London and they moved to 19, Hillside Gardens, Highgate. Here they lived for the rest of their lives in a happy and loving marriage together, accumulating loyal and lasting friendships with many neighbours, whom she regularly mentioned to family and truly valued. Indeed it is these neighbours, to whom we, as a family, are tremendously grateful as they were caring enough of her to notice that things were amiss last month, and to do something about it. We were reminded once again of the importance of neighbours, especially to the elderly who live alone.
Joan and David had an amazing life together with Various trips around the world with David's work and of course in retirement their connections with St. Paul's and St. Brides. David's love of music was something that Joan encouraged which gave them access to wonderful evenings at the Royal Opera House and other Concert Halls.
Joan's cousin, Michael and his wife, Jane, recaIl,"those wonderful dinners in Christs'," as well as lovely memories of family "get togethers" at Barrow Road, in Cambridge, and later the bungalow in Foxton. Michael recalls, as many of the family do, the meals at the "round table'' where so many anecdotes were shared with guffaws of laughter. This was one of Joan's characteristics of enjoying humour and conversation. Her laugh is something that we will always remember.
They enjoyed associations with St Paul's through David being a Wandsman and St Bride's through the choir. Being creatures of habit, they discovered Time Share properties to provide the perfect retreat for them, enjoying Lanzarote, the Lake District and Royal Spey Side, Scotland. During this time, my job took me to London and I used to have "Bed and Breakfast" at their home very week. As I got to know them better, I delighted in finding them outrageously dotty gifts, including plenty of soft toys and silly mugs and they in turn were always hugely supportive, especially when life felt a bit overwhelming. One of their favourite survival techniques was to stand back from a situation, look at it and say: "Everything is basically alright." They weren't know it, but it was something they would lean on a lot, during the years to follow.
Thankfully none of us know what is coming next in life, and sadly just after he retired, David was found to have cancer and Joan became his carer. He endured many years of treatment, and was finally given the all clear. They then had a period of relative good health during which time, Joan's mother became increasingly frail. David and Joan made a weekly trip from London to Cambridge to care for her and it was inspiring to witness all that they gave until her death a few years later.
During this time, William, the first of their Great nephews arrived, who they adored and agreed to be Godparents to. The picture of Joan and David holding a baby is indeed William who they came to see when he was just a day or two old. A further 2 Great Nephews, Jonathan and Charles arrived and Joan and David always remained hugely supportive and interested in the growing family.
They were just always there, a solid presence in the backbone of our family, and loved family events. You can see her smiling from under her hat whilst at David's nephew, William's, wedding.
Not long after David's battle, however, Joan was also diagnosed with cancer and had to have the bone in her face cut out and replaced. For several years she too endured treatments and surgery with an exemplary level of courage and patience. Eventually she re-emerged looking slightly different but being the same Joan we all knew and loved, and amazingly cured of cancer. However, their beloved time-share holidays sadly became impossible with their weakened state of health which they continued to endure with great courage and fortitude.
David's cancer finally reared its ugly head again and Joan lovingly tended to him in his last illness We remember her dedication in taking in Afternoon Tea to the hospice to make David feel as though he might have been at home. After his death, Joan was left alone with many happy memories of their fine time together and had begun to make further happy memories in the new stage of life she started on alone.
Joan's sister-in-law, Kate Martin, offers the following: ''I have many memories of David and Joan, but no particular anecdotes - I do remember with gratitude how Joan took me shopping in Cambridge to buy my first evening dress, I was home from school and was invited to a posh party and my father was so unwell that my mother couldn't do it. Joan kindly stepped in and was very patient with a rather gauche teenager. I had become particularly close to Joan since David's death and John and I will both miss her."
Robert, one of David's nephew's adds: "The memories I have are just unremarkable times and happy conversations with two thoroughly nice people".
My brother Pip and his wife Jane, treated Joan to a wonderfully relaxing Christmas time at their London home last year and she stayed with Michael and his wife, Jane, over Easter. Friendships with neighbours and acquaintances we discovered had deepened and grown and we all felt she was gathering strength without David's companionship, managing to build her life up again. Indeed, in recent months during their visits to her, Michael and Jane visited many tile shops for the kitchen which she was proposing to redecorate. She had virtually made up her mind having done all the research she thought necessary - and as we all know, she had to make sure she had explored all possibilities!
However, very sadly, just a few weeks ago and only a few months after being officially declared free of cancer, she caught a form of geriatric meningitis and died within a couple of days.
Just 2 weeks before that, she was staying with Michael and Jane and was full of enthusiasm for all the outings they proposed, joining in trips with her usual energy and enthusiasm. She lived life right to the end and it is this, coupled with her sense of humour, her gloriously infectious laugh and her stoical approach to life that we shall so sadly miss.
David Martin read Revelation 7: 9-end
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Pip Steen read Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Revd Dr Donald McFadyen read Christabel - Part II by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
And hence the custom and law began
That still at dawn the sacristan,
Who duly pulls the heavy bell,
Five and forty beads must tell
Between each stroke—a warning knell,
Which not a soul can choose but hear
From Bratha Head to Wyndermere.
Saith Bracy the bard, So let it knell!
And let the drowsy sacristan
Still count as slowly as he can!
There is no lack of such, I ween,
As well fill up the space between.
In Langdale Pike and Witch’s Lair,
And Dungeon-ghyll so foully rent,
With ropes of rock and bells of air
Three sinful sextons’ ghosts are pent,
Who all give back, one after t’other,
The death-note to their living brother;
And oft too, by the knell offended,
Just as their one! two! three! is ended,
The devil mocks the doleful tale
With a merry peal from Borodale
The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-
Nunc Dimittis - Noble in B minor
Sanctus from Requiem Mass - Fauré
Faire Is The Heaven - Harris
Skye Boat Song - trad. arr. Jones
Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan tutti - Mozart
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended
Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven