Thinking Anglicans

Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

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.

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Father Ron SmithSimon SarmientoRichard AshbyFather DavidDavid Keen Recent comment authors
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Joseph Golightly
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Joseph Golightly

Claptrap. The Commissioners have spoken so you nice people just shut up!

Father David
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Father David

Selling off the family silver. Most of the rectories and vicarages have been flogged off and now the episcopal palaces are going the same way.

David Keen
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David Keen

That hard-earned family silver, we do so desperately need it to get through the eye of the needle. Anyway, the Palace isn’t being sold, it’ll continue as a workplace.

Lambeth Palace has 4 members of the chemin neuf community living in, maybe if the palace in Wells did something similar that would be a win-win: maintain a heart of prayer without the bishop having to live in a tourist site.

Father David
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Father David

Stage One – Home and Work Place for the Bishop
Stage Two – Work Place for the Bishop
Stage Three – For Sale

Father Ron Smith
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This decision – to re-house the Bishop of Bath and Wells in another, less prestigious, building than the Palace at Wells – chimes in well with the like decision of Pope Francis to live in the guest-house of Saint Martha at the Vatican.

Father David
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Father David

I see no signs yet that Pope Francis has started to flog off the Vatican’s Family silver!

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Fr Ron,
The Church Commisioners have bought a £1 million Georgian former vicarage for the Bishop. It’s hardly a modest dwelling by any one’s standards.

Father Ron Smith
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The question here, Richard, might be: is revenue earned by the Palace earning more than that required for the purchase and retention of the Bishop’s new digs – is there a significant saving?

If not, why is the diocese bothering?

Simon Sarmiento
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I think you are missing the point here. A diocese has no control over the housing of a diocesan bishop. The Church Commissioners are wholly responsible for this.

See the latest statement by the diocese, complaining about the decision of the commissioners,
Diocesan response to Church Commissioners’ decision http://bathwells.anglican.org/diocese/news/story/649/?view=current#sthash.kJd9DgJ0.dpuf

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Simon. After reading the relevant statements – from the Church commissioners and the diocesan response – one wonders why the diocesan authorities were not in on the prior discussions. However, pragmatism would seem to be the watchword.