Comments: Statement from Church Commissioners on Bishop's Palace, Wells

As Harry Hill often says "There's only one way to sort this out - FIGHT!"

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 11:03am GMT

I find myself looking on at the vast quantity of comment on this subject with growing stupefaction. Whilst I must confess to a nostalgic, Trollopian fondness for bishops remaining in their ancient seats (ideally dressed in aprons and gaiters whilst drinking port), we surely have more pressing matters to which to direct our energies.

If this question must be addressed, I think the best approach would be to transfer bishops' residences to the dioceses and leave them to decide locally what they want to do with them - house the bishop, flog them off, turn them into conference centres or whatever. I would also favour the corresponding adjustment to the financial interaction between the commissioners and the dioceses moving, after a transitional period, to being an equal sum, rather than one that permanently favours those dioceses that currently have more expensive-to-run residences.

Posted by Stuart, Devon at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 2:22pm GMT

"ministries which are increasingly demanding"

Self-aggrandizing nonsense I think, in a church which has never had more chiefs and fewer indians.

Posted by american piskie at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 2:33pm GMT

The senior staff of the diocese of Bath and Wells were consulted by the Church Commissioners but if their remarks after the decision to evict the new bishop from his moated palace are anything to go by then they must have been unanimous in their opposition to the Commissioners proposal during the period of consultation.
The Commissioners seem to be highly short sighted in their proposal. 61,000 visitors to the palace at Wells last year an increase of almost 17,000 on the previous year. What a marvellous evangelistic opportunity for the new bishop to have so many people in his front garden to tell them something of the story of Jesus Christ. St. Paul would delight in having that number come to him rather than he having to face all the perils and dangers of those troublesome missionary journeys.
The Commissioners still have egg on their faces over their decision to sell the Zurbaran paintings of the sons of Jacob which thankfully remain at Auckland Castle. It looks like they are making a similar mistake down in Somerset. All we need now is a comment from that former occupant of the palace at Wells - Lord Carey - who seems, at the moment to be unusually quiet on the subject.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 3:40pm GMT

Of course being a bishop is a demanding ministry. Think of the average vicar, who holds down several full-time jobs - looking after a Christian community (or three), plus looking after the preservation of a listed building (or three) on a totally inadequate budget. And that's just a vicar. Anyone who manages to be a bishop and stay sane deserves our wholehearted admiration.

Posted by Jamie Wood at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 5:55pm GMT

"meetings with senior members of the Diocesan leadership team, including [the] Bishop of Taunton ... We listened carefully to their concerns. The fact that they do not agree with the decision that was ultimately made is not evidence of a lack of consultation."

It's a 'Reverse Pilling'. A Bishop being listened to - and then completely ignored!

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 6:49pm GMT

If the idea is that "the Bishop should be housed appropriately and that their homes are properly places of rest and privacy" then why not increase their salary by £40K and leave them to rent or buy their own home?

Posted by Turbulent priest at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 8:14pm GMT

I think this story is just amazing ..........

You couldn't write a better script for an edition of All Gas and Gaiters, proof that reality beats fiction every time!

In many people's minds this also represents just where the CofE is in its journey of faith.........
Shall the bishop live in a 800 year old palace or in a million pound house we sold for a lot less recently and had to buy back ......
And we wonder why .......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 11:04pm GMT

Whatever the outcome of this decision to house the Bishop of Bath and Wells in more modest surroundings than the ornate and prestigious quarters provided in the Bishop's Palace; no doubt the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, would agree with the Gospel imperative of Holy Poverty that he, himself, is embracing and exemplifying at the Vatican.

If the Palaces of Bishops can be better used to provide a means to help the poor - by opening them up to fee-paying public - this would seem to be a laudable Gospel initiative for the C. of E.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 10 February 2014 at 11:53pm GMT
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