Peter Longland

31st January 1930 - 25th January 2023

On Thursday 16th February, 2023 at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Peter Longland was held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.
Download Order of Service (pdf)


The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the opening:

A very warm welcome to St Bride’s, as we gather together to say a final farewell to our beloved brother in Christ, Peter Longland, and to give thanks for his extraordinary life and for the wonderful man that he was.

We may have known Peter in very different ways and from very different contexts, but I suspect for many of us here today, this really does feel like the end of an era.

Peter always reminded me of a kind of majestic rock that becomes a comforting feature of one’s familiar landscape: ever present, always quietly visible (because he towered over most of us) and filled with the wisdom of ages. Utterly dependable, however much the landscape around him shifted, Peter remained unchanged and unchanging – he was just always there, exuding courtesy, kindness, and charm. He could be a man of relatively few words, but when he did speak, you always listened, because his contributions were invariably sharp, incisive, and to the point.

An astute businessman; an immensely gifted artist; a man of profound faith (Peter was a core member of our church family here at St Bride’s for very many years), and, of course, a devoted husband to his much-loved life companion, Jean, whose loss he mourned so deeply.

Peter always sat in his special seat over there, which today is reserved for him in his memory, and marked by a little floral tribute and a candle.

And I’m sure that he will not be far from us today, as we say our farewells to him, honour his memory, and give thanks for all that he has meant to us, and for all that he was.

We begin with an opening prayer. Let us pray.

Spirit of God, source of all love and grace,
As we gather today to say farewell to Peter,
our beloved brother in Christ,
and to entrust him into your loving arms,
we pray that you will comfort us with your gentleness and your peace.
Although gone from our sight,
he will never be absent from our hearts.
And as we remember him with thanksgiving today,
we remain confident in the certain knowledge of your boundless love
and abiding grace.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen.


Lesley-Ann Jones

Peter was our friend. He was part of the furniture here for longer than most of us can remember.

Not only as a diligent member and supporter of the Guild of St Bride and as Treasurer of the PCC for many years. Not only in his work for the St Bride’s Foundation. Not only as a faithful and regular congregant. But also as a man who forged personal friendships with a wide variety of people he found here, and who gave more and more time and energy to those relationships beyond the sad death of his beloved wife Jean.

John Oates was Rector here during the 1980s when the Longlands first arrived, lured over Blackfriars Bridge by choruses wafting from here and almost through the open windows of their apartment overlooking the River Thames.

‘They were a very interesting couple,’ remembers John. ‘When they joined us, Peter was already retired. We got to know them socially, though he kept himself to himself. One never knew a great deal about his family life, or his private affairs. When I retired, Peter would visit me in Kingston. We valued him greatly.’

John’s successor, David Meara, who was Rector of St Bride’s from 2000 until 2014, remembers Peter and Jean as ‘stalwart members of the church, and great supporters of its musical tradition. They both loved to travel. They were patrons of the English National Opera, and often took Rosemary and me to their box, before dinner afterwards at their favourite restaurant, in Waterloo. Peter was immensely generous, and full of curiosity about the world.’

Janet and Terence Smith, former Sunday School leader and Electoral Roll manager and Guild Marshall respectively, describe Peter as ‘a gentle man – in every sense of the word. He was kind and caring, and had time to speak to everyone. Peter joined the Guild of St Bride in 1992, and served faithfully every Sunday, mainly on Usher duty. He had high expectations of himself, and his welcoming skills were greatly appreciated. His interests outside the church were painting, theatre, music and travel. He loved cruises. He had recently returned from a cruise in Europe, and was planning another to Antarctica this coming June.’

Peter Silver, a former churchwarden here, recalls ‘a very astute man. A dear confidant. We worked closely together when he was Chair of the St Bride’s Foundation Board of Trustees. He drew me into their number, eventually recommending me as his own successor. His wise counsel and great friendship will be much missed.’

Alison Lee, St Bride’s Foundation manager, found Peter incredibly supportive, both as chair and as emeritus president. ‘He helped me hugely,’ she says. ‘But the thing I will always remember and be grateful for is the friendship we established over regular coffees, discussing everything from art and theatre to travel and the latest technology updates. There was always a lot of laughter. I can hear him laughing when I think of him now.’

Gabriele Fyjis-Walker was another of Peter’s regular opera partners. She remembers many memorable evenings at Covent Garden, during which he would smile throughout. ‘Conversation over dinner always offered me informed insights into the music and productions,’ she recalls, ‘as he was a true connoisseur. We also exchanged news, views and memories of Sudan. We had both lived in that remote desert country, Peter much earlier than my diplomat husband and I. As very little had changed in the Sudanese way of life between the 1960s and the 1980s, we were able to share our mutual liking for its people. Living in the desert with the Nile as the only source of water, no hint of spring, autumn or winter skies but just hot and very hot days, and an acceptance of the Arabic word mafi, There Is Not, meant that we learned to live without electricity, petrol, eggs or any variety of food for much of the year. This, we agreed, had been a formative and very positive experience.’

Daily deprivation clearly imbued Peter with an appreciation of abundance.

Mary Walker, the Longlands’ close friend and neighbour for years, recalls that, whenever you asked Peter a question about something, he would give a considered opinion. ‘A very considered opinion.’

Oh, yes. That was Peter. A man of measure, wisdom and immense humour, who adored double entendre, a little wordplay and a juicy pun. A dignified gentleman, precise, impeccably-dressed and -mannered. Elegant and worldly. He walked easily alongside people of every faith and from all walks of life. He never judged others. He regarded negatives as positives, in that they afford opportunities to restart or to improve. ‘You are not your past,’ he once said to me. ‘It is never too late to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.’

There was a sense that Peter was reinventing himself all the time, even into his nineties. He returned to his painting with gusto after he was widowed, and was delighted to exhibit his work. Nor was his love of music confined to classical, choral and opera. After reading an extract of my showbusiness and music journalism memoir in The Times, he purchased the book, read it, and invited me to lunch.

‘I need you for something,’ he said. ‘All those years that I spent in far-flung countries meant that the cultural revolution of the 1960s and ’70s passed me by. I know nothing about the Beatles or the Rolling Stones and the reSt I’m not saying I will like their music, necessarily. I’m keeping an open mind. But I am not proud of the yawning gaps in my knowledge. Will you teach me?’

There ensued lunches.

Peter had friends in high places. Sometimes literally. Once, when I was about to travel to Umbria, he emailed, ‘Give my regards to Perugia, would you? I know it reasonably well. A friend and his wife own the Castello in nearby Gubbio. His Italian great-great-grandfather was a leader in the Risorgimento, and received the ancient monument as a reward. I’ve stayed there many times. It must be one of the highest, coldest and most draughty places I have ever attempted to sleep in. But what should one expect of a castle teetering on the top of a rocky outcrop, its foundations all but flapping in the wind?

When I sent him the press release for my book about the Rolling Stones, he emailed back immediately:

‘Yet again, I am to be treated to subjects and people of which I have very little knowledge, let alone experience,’ he enthused. ‘Travel may broaden the mind, but it also fragments one’s life. I look forward to devouring this book during my cruise back to Norway, and to becoming as Stoned as the rest of the world.’

When my younger two children were little, they didn’t know Peter’s name. They called him ‘Please Wait’ – referring to his habit of articulating those words when controlling the crowds of congregants stampeding towards the altar rail to receive Holy Communion. I told him about this years later. He had the grace to laugh like a drain.

Thank you, dear Peter, and God bless you.

Paget Dare Bryan

Hello – Peter (and Jean) were my and my sister’s legal guardians.

To add a bit of history to that statement – when I was a few years old, Peter and Jean – who were in the 1960s the neighbours but one to my parents – took on this this kind but never called upon undertaking – but – that did not stop them from being wonderfully involved in our lives.

Peter was born 93 years ago in Barnoldswick to parents John and May – joining his brother Jack who was by then ten years old.

After his school years and before starting his training to become an accountant, Peter completed his national service – where – as he would say they did not know what to do with this tall, thin man with little interest in sport – so they made him a physical training instructor.

Typically Peter did not waste what he learned and 60 years on he would still proudly say he completed his Canadian air force workout every morning.

Joining BAT a few years after national service – as a roving auditor, Peter worked in the Bahamas – where he first met Jean – and later spending a few years in Switzerland, and then Nigeria and ultimately India – where he and Jean spent many years living in Calcutta making a lifetime of dear friends.

Jean and Peter returned to the UK in the early 60s – and with their precious cat Chotti living first in Highgate and then later in the mid/ late 70s they moved to Upper Ground – where special dispensation was given so Chotti could move with them.

Throughout this time, Peter continued his successes with BAT – ultimately joining the board and remaining for a number of years before leaving to take on other business roles, chairmanships and supporting a number of charities.

And of course with Jean they continued to travel the world on business and pleasure.

To me – throughout my teenage years and 20s whilst everyone else I knew of his vintage had actively looked to retire, Peter was doing the complete opposite and was always incredibly busy – with his very gradual transition to some form of retirement from business over the late Noughties providing him with more of an opportunity to give more time to supporting wonderful causes and so it was all the way up to the end of last year.

Peter was always keeping his mind engaged – over the lockdowns a few years ago, during the daytime he took and watched online courses and held his meetings over Zoom and in the evenings he watched live streamed plays and operas from his armchair. It was clear that even a pandemic was not going to stop Peter from being as active as possible in everything he had been doing and enjoying before the forced stay at home.

I asked Peter’s brother’s family for their recollections of Peter – As young children they remembered his visits back to the UK during his expat years as exciting times. He was – they said – our very tall uncle with tales of foreign lands, who sat us on his shoulders so that we could touch the ceiling.

He would come to stay – they recalled – bearing gifts such as dolls in native costumes and a Kukri knife which Brian still possesses and we would enjoy the duets that he played with our father on the piano.

And many years later, after their mother died, Peter and Jean provided much support and distraction to their father Jack who would accompany them on many holidays – with trips in the UK often around researching the Longland family tree.

My earliest memory of Peter was of him talking to me when we all lived in Highgate – I would have been around 6 years old. Peter always had such gentle charm – engaging in conversations with people of all ages and interests – finding common ground – asking questions, listening and responding to your answers and always making you feel at full ease.

At that first memorable conversation we talked about my favourite subjects at school and that was how it continued really for next 50 years.

When I was at university – over lunches at his beloved Travellers Club – we would discuss the courses I was taking in my modern history degree (‘careful Paget,’ he would say – ‘you may call it history, I call it my life’). His support, mentoring and guidance (as well as clear enjoyment of business and the City) were important reasons for me later choosing to work in the city as a lawyer and deciding to work overseas.

Over these years Peter’s guardianship role developed into one of a generous, kind, thoughtful and guiding godfather – hosting my 21st birthday party at the Travellers club, inviting me out to plays and operas as a student and later every year –we would jointly celebrate our January birthdays at the opera. And of course, over my nearly 12 years in Hong Kong no trip back to the UK was complete without a long catch up lunch with Jean and Peter.

When many years ago my father died – Peter helped fill the gap left in my life – allowing me continue to have that wisdom and support that only someone who has known you all your life can give –and I shall miss him enormously.

In these last few moments, I want to remember Peter’s love of music, the theatre and Opera and of course painting.

it always seemed that there wasn’t a play or an opera in London that he and Jean had not seen (often multiple times if they liked it – and generously taking friends visiting London to see again a performance they had particularly enjoyed). Music was of course very important to Peter – as it was to Jean – and the harpsichord in his flat was a source of much enjoyment.

His great passion of course, throughout his whole life was his painting. It is said that he would have liked to have been a full time artist. His approach and the completed body of work over the years was phenomenal and is full of wonderful drawings, paintings, sketches of people, places and the loveliest of views. His paintings were always in demand both by family and friends but also by the general public. As a teenager I remember being aware of peter’s many successful exhibitions.

A plaque for Peter will be added to the seat next to Jean’s over there. The words on the plaque – describe Peter as a Businessman and an Artist and that might reflect how Peter saw himself but they do not quite capture the richness and quality of the man those of us lucky to have known him will remember. As Eileen (his niece) said so well to me ‘Our memory of our uncle is of a very kind, welcoming and gentle man.’

And we shall all remember him with love.


The Venerable David Meara read 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child; I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Norman Johnson read I’m fine, thank you by Constance O’Neon

There is nothing the matter with me.
I’m as healthy as I can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
and when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.

My pulse is weak, and my blood is thin
but I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
Arch supports I have for my feet
or I wouldn’t be able to be on the street.

Sleep is denied me night after night,
but every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin
but I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

The moral is this, as my tale I unfold,
that for you and me who are growing old,
it’s better to say “I’m fine” with a grin
than to let folks know the shape we are in.

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my “get up and go” just got up and went.
But I really don’t mind when I think with a grin
of all the grand places my “get up” has been.

Old age is golden, I’ve heard it said;
but sometimes I wonder as I get into bed
with my ears in the drawer, my teeth in a cup,
my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep overtakes me, I say to myself,
“is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?”
When I was young my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels over my head.

When I was older my slippers were blue,
but I still could dance the whole night through.
Now I am old, my slippers are black,
I walk to the store and puff my way back.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits
and pick up the paper and read the obits.
If my name is still missing, I know I’m not dead,
so I fix me some breakfast and go back to bed.


The choir & organist of St Bride’s performed the following anthems and songs:

The Sentences – William Croft
Beauty for ashes – Bob Chilcott
And I saw a new heaven – Edgar Bainton
Beim Schlafengehen – Richard Strauss
Soave sia il vento – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
St Anne Fugue BWV 552 – Johann Sebastian Bach


The Lord’s my Shepherd
Be thou my vision
Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Jean and Peter Longland
congregation sitting for service


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