About this Archive
Reverend Kenneth Leech was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire in 1939. He was educated to a high level, having been through Grammar School as a young man, followed by undergraduate and postgraduate study with King’s College London, Trinity College Oxford, and Queen Mary’s College London. His academic focuses included history, divinity, sociology, and theology.
Following his time in higher education, Leech became an ordained Catholic deacon in 1964, and ordained as a Catholic priest in 1965.
He held the position of assistant priest for Holy Trinity, Hoxton from 1964-1967, followed by an assistant priest position at St. Anne’s, Soho until 1971. During this time, Leech founded the Soho Drugs Group, and Centrepoint Soho – an emergency night shelter for homeless people in the area. From 1971 onwards, Leech went on to hold various short-term assistant and pastoral positions across London churches and one prison until 1987, including roles in chaplaincy, theological education, race relations, and occultism. From 1987-1990, Leech was the director for The Runnymede Trust. His final clergy position, which ran from 1991 to 2004, was as Community Theologian for St. Botolph’s Church, Aldgate.
During his working years, alongside his continuous work amongst the clergy, Leech was involved in various pastoral projects within London, supporting people experiencing drug addiction and racial persecution in the East End of London, as well as youth, education, and immigration-centred work and political activism across London. In addition, Leech wrote various books, book chapters, articles, and smaller publications, regarding social welfare issues, spirituality, Christianity, politics, and theology. He gave regular talks in both Britain and various North American theological events and educational institutions, as well as appearing on political and current affairs television shows in Britain.
After the end of his time as Community Theologian for St. Botolph’s Church in 2004, Leech returned to his home county of Lancashire for retirement. He continued to be a dedicated theologian and figure of Anglo-Catholic faith, and continued to enjoy international travel and political activism, until his death in 2017.
Scope and Content
Papers of Reverend Kenneth Leech, radical Catholic priest and community theologian (1939-2017), including: fifty-five journals featuring handwritten entries by Reverend Kenneth Leech, with labels of dates on each journal, and handmade pages taped or stapled into most of the journals. Handwritten entries include: administrative work and clergy notes, daily schedule plans and task lists, bible verse titles, passages, and quotations, travel notes and plans, personal and dream reflections, lists of correspondence and contact details, finances, and miscellaneous notes (1971-2013); papers, press cuttings, publication extracts, agendas and minutes of meetings, ephemera, posters, and correspondence arranged according to chronology, regarding: Hyde Grammar School, nuclear disarmament, social welfare issues, clergy administration, theological events attended by Reverend Kenneth Leech, book reviews, philosophy, Catholicism, community theology, sex work, fascism and antifascism, immigration, diocese in North America, memorials, ordinations and anointments, St. Katherine’s Precinct Project, and The Runnymede Trust (1954-2017); papers, publication extracts, photographs, and publications regarding East London, including: living conditions and political activism in the East End, social housing in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney, and former Communist member for Stepney Council and antifascist activist Solly Kaye (1944-2005); papers, publications, press cuttings, ephemera, and correspondence regarding religion, theology and parish management, including: the work of Reverend Kenneth Leech at St Botolph’s, Aldgate, social welfare issues, world religions, antisemitism, North American diocese, theological events, clergy administration, finances, theological research, Christian worship and faith practices, funerals and obituaries, the Jubilee Group, church services, and the Christendom Trust (1962-2012); papers, press cuttings, articles, journal extracts, reports, ephemera, and correspondence regarding social welfare issues and prejudice, including: drug addiction, drug policy, homelessness, racism, anti-racism campaigns, Black liberation activism, homophobia, xenophobia, fascism and fascist ideologies, healthcare for addicts, migrant communities in London, domestic violence and abuse, drug subculture in London, clergy attitudes to social welfare issues in Britain, refugees and asylum seekers, and urban living conditions (1962-2009); correspondence between Reverend Kenneth Leech, friends, clergy members, and customer services, regarding: clergy administration, personal celebrations and affairs, travel, TV licensing, theology, parish management, social welfare issues, and a missing persons case (1954-2014); press cuttings and journal extracts from various publications, regarding: social welfare issues, Christianity and Catholicism, theology, elections, peace movements, sports, health, international conflict and politics, addiction, world religions, fascism and antifascism, communism, socialism, trade unions, philosophy, sexuality, spirituality, book reviews, and political dissent (1962-2013); audio cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes featuring audio and video material, regarding: Christianity and Catholicism, theology, spirituality, racism, the East End of London, current affairs, and the life and beliefs of Reverend Kenneth Leech (1978-2009); publications, including books, journals, pamphlets, theses, and research papers, written by Reverend Kenneth Leech, the Jubilee Group, and various other authors, regarding: Christianity and Catholicism, theology, spirituality, social welfare issues, politics, East London, addiction, racism and immigration, radical and political activism, sexuality, counterculture, and psychology (1953-2017); personal artefacts created and owned by Reverend Kenneth Leech, including private documents, photographs, publications, certificates, and one scrapbook, regarding: East End of London, clergy work by Reverend Kenneth Leech, travel, school, ordination, and personal affairs (1957-2010); and miscellaneous papers, articles, posters, ephemera, postcards, maps, publication extracts, poetry, handwritten notes, and correspondence, regarding: social welfare issues, religious practice and spirituality, publications, clergy members and administration, racism and immigration, political activism, Christian and theological groups and events, memorials, obituaries and deaths, theological research, health and health services, fascism and antifascism, national and international politics, church events and services, clergy administration, and personal affairs (1962-2013) (1954-2017).
25 Boxes; 17 .avi; 53 .wav [50.4 GB]