Tribute to Christopher Lake

  |  Published: Nov 10th 2015

Wendover has recently lost one of its most remarkable residents, Anthony Christopher Lake, an unassuming and intelligent man with an immense regard for humanity. A caring man who enriched the lives of so many people.

Born in 1920, his early childhood was happy if unconventional. When he was 13 years old he attended what he described as “an unusual school with about 75 other pupils who came from many different countries” which no doubt helped him become so accepting of others. When he was 14, he visited Greece and Turkey, thereby kick starting a lifelong love of Greece. The trip also inspired him to present his own plans for solving the problems in the Balkans to the Turkish Ambassador’s Private Secretary.  His first steps as a committed peacemaker. Christopher left school at 15 and went into farming, but was not happy. He was drawn by the Eastern Mediterranean and travelled across Europe to Turkey, only arriving back from his second trip the day before World War 2 was declared. 

Already a committed Christian, Christopher  was moving toward Quakerism so military service troubled him. Christopher could not be discharged during war so, with the help of Michael Tippett the composer, he absconded and was later court-martialled as a conscientious objector and served 3 months in prison.

In 1943 Christopher became Travelling Secretary of the Friends Peace Committee and soon after joined the League for Democracy in Greece. In 1944 he married his first wife Hazel, the mother of his daughters Eleni & Tina. Unfortunately so much travelling, attending the Peace Association, CND meetings, talking with Greek & Turkish leaders for the Peace for Cyprus Committee, including Archbishop Makarios, put a great strain on family life and they were later divorced.

Christopher continued to actively support CND, the Peace Association and  the League for Democracy in Greece. He became the Chairman of the Greek Relief Fund, founded in 1968 to assist the families of political prisoners during the military dictatorship in Greece, (67-74). He even secretly delivered pamphlets hidden in his Bible until he was turned back at the Yugoslav-Greek border as an undesirable alien. After Democracy was restored in Greece, he was lauded and received as an honoured guest by the Government.

He came to live in Wendover in 1970, and began attending the Quaker meetings in Aylesbury, where he met his soulmate, Leni. They married in 1977, but far from settling into a quiet, cosy retirement, Christopher’s activities increased. He became a very committed Quaker, involved in many Quaker projects. He worked at Kenneth Roberton’s music publishers in the Wendover windmill. A perfect occupation for a music lover who regularly enjoyed concerts at St Mary’s Church and Aylesbury Music Club.

Christopher had a lifelong interest in Genealogy and served as both Vice-President and President of the Bucks Family History Society. In 1981, he published “European Rulers 1060 - 1981: a cross referenced genealogy” and produced a beautiful family tree to celebrate Prince Charles’s marriage to Lady Diana Spencer.  As well as his love of books, his intellectual interests  also included the Workers Education Association and he continued to give Greek lessons, notably to  Professor Brian Woledge, then in his 90’s.

He was the National Trust Warden for Coombe Hill and joined the Chiltern and Wendover Societies. He not only walked but cleared and maintained many  of our local footpaths. He loved to be out in the countryside “doing” and if there wasn’t anything needing his attention on the hills, he  would ask his much younger neighbours if he could prune their fruit trees.

Christopher and Leni loved to travel, especially if they could combine it with their interest in humanity.  During one trip they walked the Pilgrim routes of Spain, though Leni was concerned that Christopher, whose hair was thinning, didn’t get sun stroke or burn. Even in their late 70s they enjoyed a wonderful trip to Mount Sinai and St Catherine’s Monastery.

Their cottage was always full of interesting and stimulating people from all walks of life.  Christopher was Leni’ s devoted companion and carer as her health deteriorated which eventually brought about the move to Cherry Trees. There, friends continued to enjoy and cherish visits with this exceptional man who gave and inspired such love.

Christopher had such a long and rich life that it is impossible to encapsulate this singular man. Perhaps Chrissie Williams comes closest: “Christopher had the wonderful knack of establishing meaningful, loving friendships. His combination of listening, wit, good humour and engagement with the world were a very special mix.”

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