HUNDREDS of mourners packed into St Deiniol's Church as Hawarden paused to remember the life of Sir William Gladstone.

Rev Andrea Jones, Rector of Hawarden, welcomed representatives of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as well as other dignitaries including the Right Reverend Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph, the Most Reverend John Davies, Archbishop of Wales, Lord Barry Jones and MP for Alyn and Deeside, Mark Tami, to the church along with several hundred friends, family, villagers and estate workers, for the funeral of Sir William who died last month aged 92.

Sir William's son, Charles, who now succeeds him as the 7th Baronet of Fasque and Balfour, paid tribute to his father in a moving eulogy saying he was "as close to a perfect human being as it is possible to be" and "the definition of a gentleman".

Charles described Sir William, whose great grandfather was Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, as a man "with a love of beauty, tradition and family who did not believe in social barriers despite being part of the British establishment."

"He was the opposite of a social snob," added Charles. "He really wanted to find out about people - everyone was interesting.

"He was passionate about a liberal education and truly believed in young people."

Charles also spoke of his father's love of classical musical, shooting, walking, rowing and football and paid tribute to his "acerbic" sense of humour.

"His death leaves the world a much poorer place," he added.

Rev Jones also paid tribute to Sir William saying he was the first person who had extended the hand of friendship when she arrived in Hawarden from Manchester by inviting her to tea at Hawarden Castle.

"Everyone was the same to him," she said. "It was people did that was important to him not where they were from."

Music by George Handel was sung during the funeral by soloist Rev Andrew Wickens with hymns including The Lord's My Shepherd, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind and Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise. Readings were read by some of Sir William's 14 grandchildren.

Sir William, who was Chief Scout between 1972 until 1982, served as Deputy Lieutenant of Flintshire from 1969 and was made Vice Lord-Lieutenant in 1984. He was Alderman of Flintshire County Council from 1970 until 1974. He became Chairman of the Representative Body of the Church in Wales in 1977 and served until 1992. He also held posts as Chairman of the Council of Glenalmond College, Governor of Ruthin School and Justice of the Peace for Clwyd.

"His life was one of exemplary public service," added Rev Jones.

Following the service a collection was held for Clwyd Special Riding Centre, a charity that was dear to Sir William.