Comments: Living arrangements for Bishop of Bath & Wells

If the choice is between the sort of house in which an affluent upper middle class family would live and a palace in which no-one would ever live unless it were ex officio, I'd choose the palace. The new house aligns the bishop with a particular social class, whereas the palace is outside the class system.

Posted by Robin at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 2:21pm GMT

In Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron showed how little relevance he gives to the Church of England in that when asked about this subject he made reference to the comedy 'Blackadder'. It's all a comedy to him.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 3:47pm GMT

I think that's a little unfair, Pluralist. Thirty years on, it's still almost impossible to mention the Bishop of Bath & Wells without reference to his baby-eating namesake!

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 4:23pm GMT

"The palace is outside the class system" Robin could you explain that a bit more please? I'm struggling to get my head round it.

Posted by David Keen at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 5:07pm GMT

'The new house aligns the bishop with a particular social class, whereas the palace is outside the class system. '

We all know who (most famously) lives in a palace. Arguably, living in one puts the Bishop in the top tier of the class system, rather than outside it.

Posted by Sam Roberts at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 5:19pm GMT

The Mail Online is wrong when it says that the bishop "turns down a palace because he wants more privacy". This decision was made Church Commissioners alone, the new bishop was not consulted.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 5:33pm GMT

An entire diocese in public revolt over a bishop's palace.

Would that there were such spines of steel on other issues -- such as gay marriages, or women bishops!

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 9:07pm GMT

I can see what Robin means - the "palace" title is a bit misleading. Effectively the Bishop lives "over the shop" at the moment. Moving him out into the kind of house lived in by wealthy upper middle class people sends a different message.
Although living in a palace sounds grand, my recollection of visiting a former bishop in the palace at Wells is that he had a fairly small set of rooms - most of the building was taken up with meeting rooms and offices etc.
It is rather like the CEO of a company living on the top floor of his office block.

Posted by Anne2 at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 9:17pm GMT

Well, one supposes that, if H.M. The Queen is being asked to allow visitors to invade Buckingham Palace - in support of its economical up-keep; it may not be too much to ask a Bishop of the Church to do likewise. After all, the Body of Christ is people - more than even its most beautiful buildings - which may be used to support The Mission.

(N.B. Our Bishop in Christchurch, N.Z. (+Victoria Matthews) is presently inhabiting a shed in the garden of her earthquake-damaged house - which is not a palace - here in Christchurch.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 10:24pm GMT

The bishops of Christchurch had a substantial georgian style mansion, and it is an exaggeration to say that the present Bishop's accomodation is a shed.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 9:01am GMT

I am very sorry that our new Bisop of Bath and Wells has to start his new job with such a cloud of discord and misinfomation surrounding him.
My father was Bishop of Bath and Wells and he and my mother lived enormously happily in the extremely public and unprivate Palace for 15 years.(anyone who has lived in a Vicarage will know how unprivate that can be: that is the whole point) He initiated the opening of the Palace and grounds and took the first steps towards the 'sustainability' which the church commissioners say prompted the decision to house the new bishop elsewhere: this drive to sustainability - I think that means making the Palace pay for itself - was pursued by our last bishop, Bishop Peter Price, who led the very successful redevelopment of the Palace and grounds. I think moving the Bishop away is going to tear the heart out of that beautiful and significant place.

Posted by Mary Rawstorne at Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 7:47pm GMT

I think the Bishop SHOULD live in his apartments in the Palace.The diocese and visitors rightly expect it- blow all you mealy mouthed people who would have him live in a shack. The trouble was that he said he did not want to live there as his family needed privacy. ! My grown up daughters snorted at that.They know they gained a lot from our house being an 'open house' When we came back from holiday we used to have family 'bets' as to how long it would be before either the phone rang or the front door received a knock! My younger daughter who is brilliant at conducting business over the phone says she learned the knack answering the vicarage phone!

Posted by Jean Mayland at Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 8:15pm GMT

How come the good citizens of Durham aren't making the same fuss as the residents and ecclesiastical hierarchs of Somerset over the issue of where the diocesan bishop resides? Auckland Castle has been the home of countless Dunelms for centuries past but alas, no longer.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 6:53am GMT

A good piece in the Times today. A former Archdeacon of Wells who lived in the Croscombe house before it was sold by the Commissioners says that it is wholly unsuitable, and you can't even get a mobile (=cellphone) signal there. Homework has not been done, I fear.

Posted by cryptogram at Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 4:37pm GMT

Now that the next Bishop of Bath and Wells is to be demoted residentially he follows quite a few downsized bishops. Carlisle no longer lives in Rose Castle and Dunelm no longer lives in Auckland Castle. Is the writing now on the wall with regard to future Primates domestic requirements? Will Stephen Cottrell be deprived of Bishopthorpe and Lucy Winkett of Lambeth?

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 2 February 2014 at 7:12am GMT

I see that Tessa Munt M.P. for Wells in Somerset is organising a petition to keep the Bishop of Bath and Wells in his moated palace. It isn't that long ago that Douglas Hogg M. P. was criticised for claiming expenses on clearing his moat.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 7:32pm GMT
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