Category Archives: Bishop George Bell

2014 Impact Case Study – Bishop Bell and “Modern Church History Informing Civic-Religious Culture and Public Commemoration” – Research Excellence Framework [REF] 2014 – Dr Andrew Chandler – University of Chichester


Dr Andrew Chandler – University of Chichester

Modern Church History Informing Civic-Religious Culture and Public Commemoration

Submitting Institution

University of Chichester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

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Summary of the impact

Dr Chandler’s publications have been extensively used and discussed nationally and internationally by Church leaders, politicians, journalists, public intellectuals, clergy and laity. They provide informed historical context for discussion of contemporary religion and offer a site for new associations and interactions. They have also impacted on the public commemoration of historical figures who have achieved an international reputation for the religious and moral significance of their life and work. Chandler is Reader in History at the University of Chichester where his position is co-funded by the Chapter of Chichester Cathedral to support his directorship of the George Bell Institute. His research focusses on the importance of national and international politics in the modern British churches, Anglo-German Church relations and ecumenical dialogues more generally.

Underpinning research

Andrew Chandler’s research has achieved its sharpest focus in four areas:

a) the ethics of foreign policy;

b) the office of Archbishops of Canterbury;

c) the development of inter-church relations and

d) the relationship between the Church and intellectual and cultural life.

His research into the controversial public career of Bishop George Bell (1883-1958) has played a key role in exploring the historical relationship between ethics and foreign policy, with particular reference to confrontations between democracy and dictatorship, religious persecution, immigration and maintenance of international law in wartime. A landmark in this work came with the edited collection The Church and Humanity: The Life and Work of George Bell (1883-1958), (published in 2012), an international collaboration integrating the work of scholars from the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland and India, with reflections by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. A further study, `Christian Ethics and the Crisis of Civilization: Bishop George Bell and the Second World War’, contributed to UNESCO supported publication Ethics and the Military (Peter Stone (ed.), UNESCO/Boydell & Brewer, 2011), pp. 55-69. The findings of this article showed the continuing significance of Bell’s interventions in the House of Lords between 1939 and 1945, particularly in the public debate about obliteration bombing and the preservation of cultural monuments. Chandler’s contribution to the 2009 Coburg ecumenical conference led to the publication of a further article, `The Little Blue Notebook: The Piety of George Bell, 1883-1958′, in a collection of studies edited by Bishop Dorothea Greiner and others for a broad church readership, Geistliche Begleitung in evangelischer Perspective; Modelle und Personen der Kirchengeschichte (Leipzig, 2013).

In addition, Chandler’s work has made available new archival findings on three Archbishops of Canterbury: Lang (1928-42), Temple (1942-4) and Fisher (1945-61), situating the office and its holders in their historical context. An extensive research essay, `The judgement of an archbishop: Cosmo Gordon Lang and British Foreign Policy, 1928-1939′, appeared in Keith Robbins and John Fisher (eds.) Religion and Diplomacy: Religion and British Foreign Policy, 1815 to 1941 (Republic of Letters, 2010), pp. 183-224. At large, such work has been closely related to his chairmanship of the international advisory board which oversees the Ashgate Archbishops of Canterbury series, a work which will seek to provide not only scholars and students but church figures and lay readers across the public with the first library of studies of all of the archbishops. Chandler’s 2012 co-authored Archbishop Fisher re-evaluates the career of the former Archbishop of Canterbury in the context of ecclesiastical, political and social reform and in the evolving landscape of the international Anglican Communion.

More recently, Chandler’s commitment to providing the churches with new materials for debate has extended to the publication of the confidential reports sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, 1962-4. Chandler joined the University of Chichester as a senior lecturer on 1/7/2007, and was promoted to Reader in 2009.

References to the research

1. `The judgement of an archbishop: Cosmo Gordon Lang and British Foreign Policy, 1928- 1939′, in Keith Robbins and John Fisher (eds.) Religion and Diplomacy: Religion and British Foreign Policy, 1815 to 1941 (Republic of Letters, 2010).

2. `Christian Ethics and the Crisis of Civilization: Bishop George Bell and the Second World War’, in Peter Stone (ed.) Ethics and the Military (UNESCO/Boydell & Brewer, 2011), pp. 55-69.

3. Andrew Chandler, ed., The Church and Humanity: The Life and Work of George Bell, 1883- 1958 (Ashgate, 2012).

4. Andrew Chandler and David Hein, Archbishop Fisher: Church, State and World (Ashgate, 2012).

5. Observing Vatican II: The Reports of Bernard Pawley to Archbishop Ramsey, 1961-1965 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

6. “Adam von Trott abroad”(2011), paper (10 pages) presented at the conference to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adam von Trot organised by Protestant Academy in Berlin

Details of the impact

Chandler’s research enriches the intellectual life of the church and provides informed historical context for those wanting to know more. It is read and used by church people across the traditions, as well as wider general audiences interested in modern Church history in Britain, Western and Eastern Europe and North America.

It (i) informs debate inside the church community and guides outside commentators. The Church press and other church writers and commentators regularly respond to Chandler’s research in print and online publication. Writers for nationally and internationally circulated church press discuss and underline the value of his research. They disseminate his findings to their readers some of whom have in turn blogged, responded or cited him in their public engagements. His research is taken as an independent voice inside the community of church thinkers. Notably, media groups used him and mediated his research knowledge on Archbishop Fisher during the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 2013. Here Chandler explained the role of the Church in that event, showing how the relationship between Church and State works, and provided context on the Archbishop’s precise role.

Further evidence of Chandler’s influence and impact in debates within and across denominations include his work on the Second Vatican Council. Chandler’s collaboration with Chichester Cathedral produced a new book, Observing Vatican II for the Royal Historical Society and a conference in June 2013 that brought together 15 Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Reformed churches and Quakers to debate the projects outcomes. Much of this was chaired by the Bishop of Wakefield and Chairman of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten. A number of those present were representing ACTA (A Call to Action), a group within English Catholicism pressing for the reform of the Church. The meeting debated the task of reforming the Church and reviewing its relationship with the contemporary world.

The research has also (ii) informed public commemoration, notably of internationally important figures whose lives blended moral understanding with political action. In 2008, Chandler’s research proved fundamental in shaping the fiftieth anniversary of Bishop Bell’s death. Here the public impact of his work combined local, national and international dimensions simultaneously. Chandler was responsible for inviting international speakers to a public conference in Chichester which combined the University, the Cathedral and the Diocese (60 delegates, 5 countries including bishops and leaders of independent foundations). He co-organised, with the Dean of Chichester, and inaugurated a series of six cathedral lectures given by politicians, church leaders including Frank Field MP, Sir Christopher Frayling (Chairman of Arts Council England at the time), Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) and theologians through the year (attended by public audiences of between 250 and 300 people). The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, commented on Chandler’s inaugural lecture, `Andrew Chandler spoke with great insight‘. Chandler also contributed to a study course marking Bell’s Anniversary and that was used in Cathedral study days.

In addition, he played a leading advisory role working with Lord Lloyd of Berwick and Professor Emeritus Paul Foster (Chichester) in the exhibition of Bell portraits in the House of Lords formally opened at a reception of c. 80 senior politicians, peers, church leaders and public figures (including Geoffrey Howe, John Hall (Dean of Westminster), Dr Rowan Williams, and Bischof Jurgen Johannesdotter). Chandler’s account of Bell is a point of public reference in commemoration and debate on the Bishop’s life, exemplified most recently in his extensive contribution to Radio 4’s Great Lives programme on Bell (2/4/13). Peter Hitchens (the guest) confirmed Chandler’s `major part’ in the programme. In short, when Bell is discussed in the public sphere Chandler’s research is a framing and informing vector. His short popular publication on Bell (informed by research listed above) was described by the Church Times as `just what is needed’.

Chandler’s knowledge of Anglo-German relations informed the 2009 anniversary of Adam von Trott’s birth in Berlin (The initial concept of this event arose from discussions between Director of Krzyżowa memorial, Annemarie Franke, and Director of The Evangelische Akademie, Ludwig Melhorn in Berlin in 2008). A conference of c.100 people at the Akademie (Chandler, the only British speaker and the only one to talk about Trott’s relationship with Britain during the Third Reich) drew together members of the public, family members, young volunteers from Germany and Poland, politicians (e.g. the State Secretary) and senior commentators for an extended exploration of the legacies of resistance, a meeting which culminated in a widely attended (and reported) public service in central Berlin. Forwertz, a documentary film company, worked closely with Chandler for two educational films on Von Trott and Von Moltke: and we understand that the latter film is screened as part of the training of German military pastors.

Chandler’s influence on the space where commemoration and ethics align came again in 2009 when he instigated the only public commemoration in Britain of the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, working in collaboration with the Chapter at Westminster Abbey, the embassy of the United States and supporters in Parliament and also leading members of the American Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in Washington DC. This event became a significant affirmation of a progressive Anglo-American affinity, beginning with a special choral evensong at the Abbey itself, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln statute in Parliament Square, a public lecture and debate in St Margaret’s, Westminster (led by Lords Hurd, Owen and Bingham and attended by c. 150 people). In July 2012 Chandler was invited to join with Professor Sir Diarmaid McCulloch, Oxford, Professor Eamon Duffy, Cambridge, and Dr Jeremy Morris, Cambridge, to advise the Chapter on the role that historical research might play in the future life and work of the Abbey.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Letters of confirmation of impact on file from: Dr Anthony Cane (Dean of Chichester Cathedral); the Rt Revd Graham James (Bishop of Norwich); Ms Eileen Mackevich (Executive Director of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission); and Annemarie Franke (Director of Krzyżowa Memorial).
  2. Review and comment of Chandler’s research in the theological press demonstrates an intellectual influence/point of discussion. EG: The Church Times made the release of Chandler’s co-authored book on Archbishop Fisher their cover story at the time of the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, publishing a long extract (14/9/2012);The Church Times reviewed his appearance on Great Lives (12/4/13).; and again in The Church Times Alan Wilkinson described Chandlers’ 2008 short book on Bell as `just what is needed’ (9/1/2009). The Anglo-Catholic magazine New Directions reviewed the book as `immensely accessible to a wider audience’. Meanwhile, the Church of England Newspaper covered his monograph on Fisher. His work, `Piety and Provocation was reviewed in The Tablet in 2008. See: (
  3. Bloggers and commentators, reviewing, debating and commentating on Chandler’s work online include: (blog of Bishop David Hamid); and for reviews of Chandler’s work, see also,,
    And, similarly, Frank Field, Saints and Heroes: Inspiring Politics (London: SPCK, 2010) uses and debates Chandler’s work in chapters 6-7 (pp. 82-100).
  4. Local Radio Interviews at time of Queen’s Coronation: Chandler gave 8 interviews in total to various local radio from Solent to Northampton with a combined audience of between 0.5 and 1M). He explained Fisher’s role as Archbishop of Canterbury.
  5. Bell Anniversary commemorations:
    Dr Rowan Williams plaudit
    ` `George Bell, 1883-1958 A Bishop to Remember, A Study Course for His Diocese to mark the 50th anniversary of his death’. See sources and
    acknowledgements,; Bell Exhibition, House of Lords, see:
  6. Great Lives: Radio 4 March 2013, Mr Hitchens has acknowledged Chandler’s major part in the programme in his blog entry of 29/3/13.; (Radio 4 March 2013, Audience reach of 10,978,000 ( figures); on average 130,270 downloads per month across whole series (Based on BBC data)).
  7. Anniversary book on Bell: Andrew Chandler, Piety and Provocation: A Study of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, 1929-1958 (Humanitas Subsidia Series, 2008). Print run of 1000.
  8. Helmuth James von Motlke (30 minute DVD) Forwertz, Düsseldorf; Adam von Trott zu Solz (40 minute DVD) Forwertz, Düsseldorf. See,
  9. 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, Westminster Abbey, Professor Richard Carwardine lecture: “I also want to pay a special and warm tribute to Dr Andrew Chandler, Director of the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester, whose initiative this has been.”
  10. Supporting testimonials on request: the Rt Hon Frank Field, MP; Lord Lloyd of Berwick; Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield; and Very Revd John Hall, Dean of Westminster.

Bishop Bell’s Five Principles for Humanity, Justice and Peace – September 1939

“The Church then ought to declare both in peace-time and war-time that there are certain principles which can and should be the standards of both international and social order and conduct. Such principles are the:

1. Equal dignity of all

2. Respect for human life

3. Acknowledgement of the solidarity for good and evil of all nations and races of the earth

4. Fidelity to the plighted word

5. Appreciation of the fact that power of any kind, political or economic, must be co-extensive with responsibility.

[“The Church’s Function in War-time” by Bishop George Bell – Fortnightly Review – September 1939]


Dear Editor

Last Friday at Christ Church Oxford, by the altar dedicated to wartime Bishop George Bell of Chichester, a special service was held to commemorate those killed who resisted Hitler within Germany – including the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
In July 1945 a similar service of remembrance took place in London, at Holy Trinity Brompton Road, three months after Bonhoeffer’s execution by the Nazi regime.
Paying tribute to his murdered friend, Bishop Bell said: 
“Dietrich has gone…our debt to him and all others similarly murdered is immense…….he represents…the moral and political revolt of the human conscience against injustice and cruelty”
May we listen to history speak. 
Yours sincerely
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society

July 19 2019 – Charles Moore on Bishop George Bell and a Special Commemoration Service at Christ Church, Oxford – Friday evening – 19/07/2019

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Charles Moore


“The Spectator’s Notes” – Charles Moore – ‘The Spectator’ – 20 July 2019 – Page 9

Seventy-five years ago on Saturday, the July plot failed. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg placed a bomb in a briefcase next to Hitler in the conference room of the Wolf’s Lair, but someone moved the briefcase a little. When the bomb detonated, the heavy conference table shielded Hitler from the blast. Stauffenberg and many other conspirators were caught. He was executed early the next morning.

This Friday, in Christ Church, Oxford, a special service will commemorate the plot [Stauffenberg’s failed attempt to kill Hitler 75 years ago], and all those who resisted Nazism in Germany. It will centre on the altar dedicated to George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, and the main external supporter of German Christian resistance to Hitler.

In Sweden in May 1942, Bell met a young German pastor called Hans Schoünfeld [Schonfeld] and the famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would later be executed in Flossenbürg concentration camp. The former disclosed to him the extent of the resisters’ plot to overthrow Hitler, giving him many of the key names. Charged with this information, Bell went to see Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary. Could the Allies help, with assurances that they would negotiate a settlement with a new German state that renounced aggression and embraced Christian principles? Writing to Eden afterwards, Bell asked: ‘If there are men in Germany also ready to wage war against the monstrous tyranny of the Nazis from within, is it right to discourage or ignore them?’ Eden was suspicious that the moves by the churchmen might be untrustworthy ‘peace-feelers’, which Hitler’s spies were bound to know about. Besides, the Allies were edging towards the doctrine of unconditional surrender. Bell’s efforts came to nothing. The July plotters acted without exterior help. They failed, and died horribly.

Controversy about this will never cease. It is easy to sympathise both with the pleading of the Bishop and with the scepticism of the foreign secretary. But one has to be impressed by Bell’s striking way of putting it: ‘Germany was the first country in Europe to be occupied by the Nazis’, and so its people needed liberation as much as any other. At the service will be read out the words of Helmuth James von Moltke, a resister to the Nazis who opposed the assassination of Hitler on the grounds that this would make him a martyr, but was executed for treason all the same. In his farewell letter to his wife, von Moltke wrote: ‘In the last analysis, the dramatic thing about the trial was this … what we had discussed were questions of the practical-ethical demands of Christianity. Nothing more; it is for this, and this alone, that we have been condemned …Your husband … stood … not as a Protestant, not as a landed proprietor, not as a nobleman, not as a Prussian, not as a German — but as a Christian and as nothing else…’

Faithful readers will know that this column has defended Bishop Bell from a charge of child abuse which the Church of England chose to accept as true 70 years after the alleged acts. A full inquiry by Lord Carlile proved that the processes used to investigate this claim had been worthless. The Church was forced to accept this. It refused, however, to pursue the logic of Carlile’s finding and declare Bell innocent until proved guilty. The Archbishop of Canterbury stated that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bell; but the cloud is not evidenced. By chance, I was in Chichester for a family gathering last weekend. We stayed at 4 Canon Lane, a guesthouse which was, until the accusation, called George Bell House. His name was then painted out. I was sorely tempted to paint it back again, but realised this would upset the blameless staff, so contented myself with expressing my thoughts in the visitors’ book. I also reminded myself of the geography of the Bishop’s Palace. ‘Carol’, Bell’s accuser, alleged that Bell would collect her from his kitchen and take her upstairs to his study, where he abused her. In fact, the kitchen she mentioned belonged to the theological college next door, and Bell had no access. His study was elsewhere.

On the crenellations which surround the cathedral’s impressive Victorian spire, we spotted three peregrines looking dramatic against the evening sun. The return of birds of prey is an attractive feature of modern times. The downside is that more raptors means fewer songbirds.

~ Charles Moore