Frank Lane Funeral
Tuesday 23rd April turned out to be a fine day just like the weather for the Easter Monday pilgrimages to St Albans Cathedral which was a favourite event at the Abbey of Frank’s. Around 30 Vergers from the St Albans Branch and others from across the country, turned up at the Abbey for the Requiem Mass at 2pm. The Vergers had been invited to robe and provide an Honour Guard for him as he arrived and departed from the Abbey. We duly robed in the Lady Chapel, the funeral itself had been moved to the Quire, Crossing and Presbytery due to the large numbers expected. Typically for the Church of England, we were told just before the service what was going to happen. We lined up in rank two by two and then led out of the Pilgrim door on the North side of the Cathedral, splitting each way from the door to form the guard as the coffin arrived in the hearse. When Frank had arrived the vergers in ranks of two, led the coffin in. We waited by the North Transcept whilst the Clergy and the coffin were led in. We led off as the first hymn At the name of Jesus was sung with Janet Lindsay a very old and dear friend of Frank, and a St Albans Branch Member leading the way carrying the Guild’s Millenniums Verge which Chris Crooks had brought with him. Chris was also our Verger keeping us in order. We proceeded into the crossing and up into the Presbytery, peeling off before the High Altar and into our places on either side of the Presbytery behind Lynda’s family. Once Frank’s coffin was in place before the High Altar symbols of his life were placed on his coffin, his Virge, a clown hat(actually a jester’s hat) and a clown puppet. The clown hat and puppet symbolised him as a character and person but also the fact that he was a member of Holy Fools amongst many of the organisations he belonged to. Readings were read by members of his family and a very moving tribute was given by his daughter. Points that I remember included
Frank’s life was very full, he did his National Service in the Navy, and met and married Lynda. He worked at various jobs in London and Welwyn Garden City before coming to St Albans Cathedral in 1967. After retiring as Head Verger from the Abbey after around 35 years of service he then worked at Morrisons for 3 days a week right up until his last illness. He married Lynda in April 1948 and they recently celebrated their 65th Wedding anniversary whilst he was ill. But he still chose the flowers and card for Lynda. Together Lynda and Frank had 3 children of their own and also a foster son. Although their first child, a daughter, died soon after birth and this led them to life long association with the Children’s Society.
The Sermon was preached by Canon Richard Watson who also had comments and tributes to Frank amongst his words. Then Communion was taken by all. There were somewhere in the region of 500 in the congregation including senior clergy and people from all walks of life whose paths had crossed Franks who took communion. Many clergy appeared as ordinary folk just wanting to pay their respects. As Frank's grandson said “once met never forgotten.” The Revd. Canon Richard Watson remembered his first time he met Frank and recounted a typically amusing tale of Frank removing a heckler from the Abbey at the retirement of a Bishop.
At the end of the Service the vergers once again formed two ranks to proceed the coffin out the way we had come in and then on outside towards the west end of the Cathedral where we stood each side of the path in the sunshine. The vergers of the Abbey led the hearse on its final journey from the Abbey, the family following behind, which was applauded as it went on his way.
There was a retiring collection in support of the Cathedral and the Children’s Society Donations may also be made C/o Phillips Funeral Services,68 Alma Road, St Albans AL1 3 BL ( 01727 851006)