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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 58  1945  page 90

Obituary: Herbert Wheatley Knocker, F.S.A.

BY the death of Herbert Wheatley Knocker our Society has lost a noted figure and many of its members an old friend. Perhaps his most outstanding characteristic was his habit of giving of his very best to the task at hand, especially if that task was for the good of someone else. Only those who, like the writer, met him in that capacity can realize how much time and thought Captain Knocker devoted to his men in the First World War. Only those who served with him on countless masonic, parochial, and, I believe, diocesan committees are fully aware of his extreme conscientiousness. Of his professional work as a solicitor it is needless to speak except to emphasize that side of it which dealt with Manors. On these—their courts, their history and procedure—he was one of our very few authorities. He was Steward of many local manors and a great collector of records of others. These he studied with great care and one can but regret that he published comparatively little compared with his great knowledge. It was by way of manorial courts and questions that he came to be an authority upon our local and county history, including also the history of Croydon where he lived for a short time. His knowledge was always at the service of others and he was a moving spirit in the Manorial Society.

   But none of these things conveys the picture that some of us liked best. Herbert Knocker was surely happiest upon those few occasions when he was able to put into dramatic form his knowledge of past history. On one occasion he held a manor court, in the costume of Elizabethan days, for the delight of the British Record Association. This required much rehearsal but was a great success and the device of a great teacher. Less elaborate but even more attractive were those lectures which were almost, or wholly, acting. I remember one about the Rye road, the road by which fish was brought to the city of London. The exact details have been forgotten but the lights were low upon the platform and in the hall. Knocker sat alone. I think he must have used some cloak or hat to heighten the illusion. He became the very traveller on that road as he detailed the incidents which happened in our own countryside. The audience was spellbound—a word which justly describes the effect he produced on these too rare occasions. Much else might be said of his work but I believe that he would rather be thus remembered than that one should speak of him as merely a learned man. He was very much more than that.

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