DESPITE opposition, including that of the diocese, there will be
no review or reversal of the decision to move the official
residence of the Bishop of Bath & Wells from the Palace in
Wells, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry,
said on Saturday.
At a meeting at Wells Museum, organised by Tessa Munt, the MP
for Wells, Sir Tony said that the Church Commissioners had made the
decision "on the grounds of suitability - not on some doctrinaire
view that Bishops should no longer live in palaces". The
"overwhelming majority" of diocesan bishops lived in a detached
house that was "very clearly their own family home".
The decision had been reached after "careful thought and
consideration", including discussions with the Bishop's staff and
those working at the Palace, he said. "I would hope that it would
be recognised that this decision, having been taken and decided, is
not now going to be reviewed or reversed by the Church
It is the intention of the Commissioners to find the new Bishop
of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, a home in Wells
within walking distance of the cathedral. In the mean time, a
former rectory has been bought as temporary accommodation.
On Friday, the Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Peter Maurice, and
other senior staff of the diocese of Bath & Wells, including
all three Archdeacons, voiced opposition to the Commissioners'
A statement said that the Commissioners had "failed to undertake
effective consultation at a local level. Instead, they have taken a
unilateral decision which has, sadly, cast a shadow over the
announcement of our next Bishop. Based on the scarce information
made available to us by the Commissioners, the diocese cannot
support their decision."
Earlier this month, Mrs Munt said: "One of the charms of the
Palace was the possibility that one just might run into the Bishop
or his wonderful wife in the grounds; and, in my view, it is a
great shame that the chances of being blessed in this way are
reduced almost to nothing."
Interview with next Bishop of
Bath and Wells