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Trevor Huddleston
Trevor Huddleston

South Africa

Born 15 June 1913, Bedford, England, Trevor Huddleston was educated at Lancing College; Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1934); and Wells Theological College. He was ordained as a priest in 1937.


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Created: 14th Apr 2008
Modified: 14th Apr 2008
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Trevor Huddleston joined the Community of the Resurrection in 1939, a monastic community within the Church of England; he was professed in 1941 taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

In 1943 Father Huddleston was sent by the Community of the Resurrection to South Africa, where he was made Priest-in-Charge of the Community's Sophiatown and Orlando Anglican Mission, in the Anglican diocese of Johannesburg.

In 1949 he was appointed Provincial of the Community of the Resurrection in South Africa and Superintendent of St Peter's School. During this period in South Africa, Trevor Huddleston became active in the struggle against apartheid and formed close friendships with leaders such as Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

The forced removal of the black community from Sophiatown after the passing of the Group Areas Act saw Father Huddleston come into conflict with the authorities; as did his decision to close St Peter's School rather than agree to hand it over to governmental control following the passing of the Bantu Education Act.

In 1955 Father Huddleston was awarded the ANC's highest honour, "Isitwalandwe" at the historic Congress of the People, in Kliptown.

In 1956 Father Huddleston was recalled to England by the Community of the Resurrection and in the same year published "Naught For Your Comfort", the most powerful indictment of apartheid and a stirring account of the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

Between 1956 and 1958 Father Huddleston was Guardian of the Novices at the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield; and from 1958-1960, Prior of the London House of the Community.

On 26 June 1959, Father Huddleston, together with Julius Nyerere who was later to become the first President of independent Tanzania and is a long time friend of Father Huddleston, addressed the founding meeting of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London, in response to an international appeal by ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli, for a boycott of South Africa.

In 1961 Bishop Huddleston was first elected Vice-President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, a post he held until April 1981, when he was elected President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (Following the death of Bishop Ambrose Reeves) until 1995.

He then became the founding Patron of ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa - (successor organisation to AAM) 1995-1998.


Biographical Information
Trevor Huddleston
(At a Glance)
Interests: Religion, Politique
Place of Origin: United Kingdom

In 1960, Trevor Huddleston returned to Africa to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Masasi in the south of Tanganiyka, where he worked until 1968 when he returned to England to serve as Suffragan Bishop of Stepney.

After ten years in the East End of London, in 1978 he was next elected Bishop of Mauritius and shortly afterwards became Archbishop of the Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean.

It was whilst in Mauritius that he was elected President of the Anti- Apartheid Movement.

In 1983 he retired as Archbishop and, after a short visit to Tanzania, came back to London and fully into the work of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

At this time he also succeeded the late Cannon John Collins as the Chairman of the Trustees of the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa.

Archbishop Huddleston has been at the forefront of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain and internationally, especially since his return from Mauritius.

Highlights include:

  • the mass protest against the visit of P W Botha to Britain in June 1984. On the eve of this meeting, Archbishop Huddleston led an AAM delegation to meet Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to protest at the visit;
  • the 120,000 strong demonstration in London in November 1985 to protest at Britain's anti-sanctions stance at the Nassau Commonwealth Summit, which was also addressed by Oliver Tambo and Reverend Jesse Jackson;
  • the Artists Against Apartheid and AAM march and festival on 28 June 1986 attended by 1/4 million and addressed by Trevor Huddleston and Thabo Mbeki in which many top rock stars performed. This took place the day following the European Community Summit in The Hague at which the British Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, again blocked EC sanctions;
  • the "Nelson Mandela Freedom at 70" campaign in 1988 which was initiated by Archbishop Huddleston and included the Wembley Concert which was broadcast to an audience of one billion worldwide;
  • the "Nelson Mandela Freedom March" from Glasgow to London; and a rally in Hyde Park of 200,000 plus, on the eve of Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday, which Archbishops Tutu and Huddleston addressed.

In addition to these "high profile" activities, Archbishop Huddleston has lead delegations to meet successive foreign Secretaries and other government ministers on a range of issues relating to Southern Africa.

He also participated in numerous local events including the renaming of gardens, streets, etc., in honour of leading figures in the liberation struggle.

Above all, he has addressed hundreds if not thousands of meetings throughout the length of Britain, including schools, church groups, trade union meetings etc. where he has taken the message to the people of Britain.

Archbishop Huddleston travelled extensively internationally in support of the anti-apartheid cause, meeting numerous world leaders;

  • in 1982 Archbishop Huddleston addressed the United Nations General Assembly;
  • in 1984 he toured the Frontline States of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and met with the leaders of these countries;
  • in 1984 he returned to the United Nations to deliver a worldwide petition calling for the release of Nelson Mandela, and addressed the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid;
  • in 1984 he also travelled to India, New Zealand and Australia, meeting with their respective Prime Ministers;
  • and since then he visited the USA, Canada, the USSR, Bermuda, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Malaysia, Japan, Luxembourg and Zimbabwe, meeting Heads of State and senior government leaders.

In April 1989, Archbishop Huddleston was the guest of the Head of State in Nigeria for a week-long nationwide tour.

Archbishop Huddleston received many awards, including honorary doctorates from Aberdeen University (1956), Lancaster University (1972), Warwick University (1988), Dennison University (USA) (1989), City University (London) (1987), the City of London Polytechnic (1989), Leeds University (1991), Exeter University (1992), Oxford (1993) and Birmingham (1993) Universities. Also Whittier College, California (1994); Dundee University (1994); University of Westville, Durban (South Afrllow of Queen Mary (1990) and Westfield College (London University).

He was awarded the United Nations Gold Medal in recognition of his contribution to the international campaign against apartheid (1982); the highest award of the Zambian government, the Order of Freedom, 1st class (1984); the Dag Hammerskjold Award for Peace (1984); and Nigeria's highest award, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (1989); and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Prize (1995).

Archbishop Huddleston also initiated major international anti-apartheid projects:

  • the "International Declaration for the Release of Nelson Mandela and all Political Prisoners" was launched in August 1982 with the first half million signatures presented to the United Nations Secretary-General by Archbishop Huddleston in 1984; also in 1984, Huddleston hosted, at Windsor, an international Inter-Faith Colloquium on Apartheid under the auspices of the United Nations;
  • and in 1987 he convened the Harare International Conference on "Children, Repression and the Law in Apartheid South Africa". Most recently, on 8 January 1990, Archbishop Huddleston initiated the Nelson Mandela International Reception Committee, which was formed to co-ordinate campaigning for the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners and to promote activity to celebrate the release of Nelson Mandela.

Under the auspices of the Committee, the "International Tribute for a Free South Africa" was held at Wembley Stadium, London on 16 April 1990, and televised worldwide;

Archbishop Huddleston, as Convenor of the Committee, introduced the address by Nelson Mandela.

In October 1990, he was invited to Namibia as guest of the Head of State, Dr Sam Nujoma. This was the culmination of years of campaigning for Namibia's independence during which time amongst his many activities, he served on the UN's Namibia Eminent Persons Group and hosted a visit by the SWAPO President to London in 1987, when he addressed a rally of 75,000 in Hyde Park.

Archbishop Huddleston's interests reached far beyond the cause of freedom in Southern Africa;

He was Provos Emeritus of the Selly Oak Colleges;

Patron of "Fair Play for Children";

President of the Britain Tanzania Society;

Patron of the British Kidney Patient's Association, Patron of Tools for Self-Reliance and the President of the National Peace Council.

The Archbishop entered South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, for the first time on April 26th, 1994, to vote in the first South African democratic election.

He was also a guest at President Nelson Mandela's inauguration in Pretoria on May 10th, 1994.

He received the KCMG (Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George) in the New Year Honours list, for "Services to UK-South African Relations", and attended an Investiture at Buckingham Palace on March 24th, 1998, to receive this honour from the Queen.

He chose the designation, "Bishop Trevor of Sophiatown". (source anc.org)




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