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Dame Judi Dench joins mourners at Wittersham church at funeral service for actor Sir Donald Sinden

By Express reporter

Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench was among those attending a funeral service today for veteran actor Sir Donald Sinden.

The service was held at St John the Baptist Church, Wittersham, near Tenterden, and attended by family, friends and villagers.

Dame Judi Dench is greeted by family members
Dame Judi Dench is greeted by family members

Sir Donald died at his Kent home last week, aged 90, after a long illness.

Also attending today's service were broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth and author Lord Jeffrey Archer, also an ex-MP and deputy Conservative party chairman.

Former MP and author Lord Archer
Former MP and author Lord Archer

Dame Judi and Sir Donald appeared together in acclaimed productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing.

The flag at Tenterden’s Homewood School, where the Sinden Theatre is named after Sir Donald, was flown at half-mast and theatres in the West End dimmed their lights for one minute on Monday evening in tribute.

Sir Donald had been battling prostate cancer for several years. His death was announced by his family last Friday.

Actor Sir Donald Sinden at his granddaughter Kezia's wedding in Wittersham in 2011
Actor Sir Donald Sinden at his granddaughter Kezia's wedding in Wittersham in 2011

His son, actor, film director and theatre producer Marc Sinden, said plans for a memorial service in London were being made.

Sir Donald lived at Ebony, near Appledore, since 1951 and was a familiar figure locally.

After a decade in theatre, he moved into films and was given top billing with Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea which led to roles in films such as Doctor in the House and Mogambo.

Sir Donald's funeral took place at Wittersham church
Sir Donald's funeral took place at Wittersham church

He maintained a successful stage career throughout, helping to establish the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963 and winning countless accolades for his work on screen, stage and radio. Among his most familiar castings were TV sit-coms Two’s Company and Never the Twain in the 70s and 80s.

Homewood head teacher Sally Lees said: “Sir Donald was a great friend to the school. He showed a genuine and sincere interest in the work of the Sinden Theatre and was always encouraging to young people who shared his passion for theatre.

“He was fun and engaging to talk to and we are very fortunate to have benefited from his interest.”

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