27 February 2014
The Bishop’s Palace at Wells was discussed by the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners at its meeting last Tuesday (25th February). This was the first meeting of the Board since it made its decision at the end of November last year.
At the meeting the Commissioners were given an opportunity to read the correspondence received and examine the petition recently presented to the Secretary to the Commissioners. They were also provided with a report of the public meeting attended by Sir Tony Baldry MP.
During their discussion the Commissioners discussed the views of those opposed to their decision and acknowledged the strong feelings that the decision had aroused within the diocese. It was noted that there were also voices of support for the decision.
The Commissioners reiterated their understanding that the ministry of the new Bishop should not be encumbered or restricted by being housed in a place with a high level of public access which is guaranteed and even encouraged in relation to which he might be expected to fulfil a significant role.
Reference was made to the statement of needs for the new Bishop of Bath and Wells which recommended that “the bishop will need to develop a new, and less demanding, relationship with the Palace Trust, in order to be able to focus better on the life of the wider diocese.”
The Commissioners also reiterated their support for the Bishop’s working arrangements and the shared offices of the Bishop of Bath & Wells and the Bishop of Taunton situated in the north wing of the Palace and for the Bishop’s Chapel which will continue to be used for daily prayer, a weekly staff Eucharist, and other services.
The Commissioners agreed that a group would investigate and consult on alternative uses for the Bishop’s apartment in the Palace which would be consonant with the continued rhythm of work and worship at the heart of the Palace.
In reaffirming their decision the Commissioners also confirmed their intention to write formally to the standing committee of the Bishop’s Council in the Diocese of Bath and Wells with notice of their intention for the Bishop’s residence to be moved from the Palace to a new temporary residence.