Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Penrith to retire

The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald reports today that the Bishop of Penrith, the Right Revd Robert Freeman, is to retire next Easter. Penrith is a suffragan see in the diocese of Carlisle. As yet, there is nothing about this on the diocesan website.


  • I wish the bishop well. I’d be interested to know how many local papers around the country would have such a spread about a bishop’s retirement. I can’t see the retirement of the bishop of Lichfield, or the area bishop of Stafford, getting a mention here in Burton. Could be wrong of course. The offices of the C and W Herald are in Penrith. Maybe that’s a factor. But it’s interesting to me at least to note that in that area between Lake District and Pennines, the Methodists remain strong in number and influence. In the 1950s and 60s when I was growing up there, they outnumbered the C of E in those overwhelmingly agricultural communities, and hardly a week went by without the activities of the chapel being reported in the Herald: chapel anniversaries, Sunday school anniversaries, golden hours, young farmers, MAYC. Langwathby village chapel had a congregation that I’d be delighted to see week by week in my vast and expensive churches. Oh dear, I’m sounding like an old man.

  • Father David says:

    Bishop Freeman arrived too late in the Lake District to be included in Richard Watson’s book – “Mitred Men of Cumbria”. Unusually two former Bishops of Penrith became Bishops of Carlisle – the present incumbent James Newcombe and Cyril Bulley. Richard Watson’s book includes the Suffragan Bishops of Barrow-in-Furness, the last one Henry Sidney Pelham became rather too territorial and regarded the south of the diocese as his own personal fiefdom and so that Suffragan bishoprick has been in abeyance since 1944.
    What a sadness it is that the current Bishop of Carlisle no longer lives in Rose Castle. I remember many years ago having lunch there in Bishop Halsey’s day.
    So there is to be a new Bishop of Penrith, I wonder who it will be, what’s the betting on it being the first “Mitred woman of Cumbria”?

  • Fr David I agree about Rose Castle. Money I suppose. But some people want their bishops to live in grand places. I remember in a different context when suggesting that money would be better spent on student welfare than on doing up rooms in College, one of the students said not at all – we want the college, our college, to look grand. Mutatis mutandis. The view of Rose as you come down from Raughtonhead is quite wonderful. The diocese is geographically awkward, though, with the cathedral almost at the northern tip. Offices now in Penrith – handy for the M6, better road from there to west Cumberland, and marginally easier to Kendal and Barrow. Cyril Bulley confirmed me. My adolescent self thought he had a face like a doorknocker. He entertained a group of us from Penrith Grammar School to tea at Rose. I wonder if Bishops still do that sort of thing.

  • Janet Fife says:

    The Whitby Gazette still runs an extensive list of church services for the week, and a weekly reflection from a Christian minister ( don’t know if other faiths are represented in the town, ethnic minorities are scarce here). I wonder if many local papers still do this? Church and clergy news is also pretty well represented.

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