Michael Goodman was aptly named, as the large number of mourners at his funeral could bear witness. He grew up in Stanmore and was educated at Aldenham School. He read Law at Cambridge and was called to the Bar in 1953, His chambers were in the Inner Temple and it was there that a young Jack Straw received Michael’s pupilage and became his firm friend. The former Foreign Secretary spoke movingly at the service.
Michael was appointed a Recorder and then a Circuit Judge on the western circuit where he served for fifteen years. Although most of his time was still spent in London, he also sat in courts in Exeter, Bristol and Dorchester. He much preferred civil law but he was also required to sit for two months a year on criminal cases which he avoided if he could.
Michael was not a particularly assiduous church member in his younger days, that is until he became involved in the William Temple Foundation, an Anglican organisation which encourages debate on religion in public life. It was usual for its younger graduate members to get involved in youth work, running clubs and games. Not particularly keen on sport in his youth, although he would later play tennis at Hurlingham, Michael felt he was not cut out to be a youth leader but instead found his niche in structural roles and was invited by the Foundation to join one of its commissions.
This would later lead to Michael being attracted by Ecclesiastical law. He joined study groups on church management, parson’s freehold rights and church faculties and enjoyed the intellectual processes to resolve problems raised in parishes when eager young vicars sought to remove pews or screens, often donated as memorials, to provide space for pop groups. A particularly interesting and notable case he dealt with was at the ancient and picturesque church of All Saints, Tudeley, Kent, where, following the earlier installation of a new East Window designed by Marc Chagall in 1967 as a memorial to the drowned daughter of a Jewish father and Anglican mother, the church’s eleven remaining windows were also proposed to be designed by Chagall. Not only was it unusual for all of a church’s windows to be fitted with stained glass but there were also objections to the concept by some parishioners. Michael found for the proposers of the scheme which took fifteen years to complete and Tudeley has since become a place of pilgrimage to see its famous windows.
He was editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Society Journal from its birth in 1987 until 2002. He held the chancellorships of Guildford (1968-2002), Lincoln (1970-1998) and Rochester (1971-2005). He was Vicar General of the Province of Canterbury from 1977-1983 and Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Judges Association from 1987 to 1997.
For relaxation he enjoyed singing and was president in turn of the Madrigal Society and Festival Choir of St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, a member of the Dulwich Choral Society (which dedicated its recent concert to Michael’s memory) and the St Stephen’s choir in which he sang until shortly before his death. He was also often involved in producing fund-raising concerts for his church, driven, as a former vicar once described it, with “relentless enthusiasm” ! He served the local community well, as chairman of the governors of James Allen’s Girls’ School and as a Vice-President of the Dulwich Society from 1988. He was a member of the Society’s committee formed to raise the statue of Edward Alleyn, by Louise Simson, in the grounds of the Old College in 2005. In that year he also compiled a history of St Stephen’s Church. He took up croquet with his usual enthusiasm when he retired in 1999, becoming secretary of the Dulwich Croquet Club. Genuinely friendly, clubbable and jolly, these qualities and his sharp intellect made him the ideal dinner companion.
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