In the United Kingdom, copyright endures70 years beyond the death of the author. Hence, if he died in 1940, these diaries were out of copyright in 2010. If they were left of the church belonged to the church, you are now free to do with them as you wish and publish them.
There is no legal requirement but out of courtesy, you might want to tell the family (if you know who they are) of what your intention is but you are doing it out of courtesy not because of any statutory duty.
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Hello, If you read the above post, the answer is about copyright. It’s the answer to your question.
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