St. Richard’s Walk
George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane
THE TALE OF TWO CATHEDRAL DEANS AND THEIR MEMORIALS TO BISHOP BELL – PART 1 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 22 2015] – THE VERY REVEREND STEPHEN WAINE DEAN OF CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL
Oct 22 2015 – Bishop of Chichester (Martin Warner) Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell [1883-1958]
“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties….” – Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner
Oct 22 2015 – “I would be grateful…if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations” – Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine [to Cathedral Guides]
The Very Reverend Stephen Waine Dean of Chichester Cathedral
Bishop Bell Memorial at Chichester Cathedral
Published18 February 2016Share
Chichester Cathedral is considering changing a memorial to a former bishop after it paid compensation to a woman who claimed he sexually abused her.
The memorial hails Bishop George Bell as a “pastor, poet, patron of the arts and champion of the oppressed and tireless worker for Christian unity”.
The Diocese of Chichester settled a civil claim made by the woman, who alleged she was abused as a child.
Current Bishop Dr Martin Warner issued a formal apology.
‘Scantiest of evidence’
The woman claimed the Rt Rev George Bell began abusing her in the late 1940s when she was five years old.
The Cathedral Chapter said some found the description of Bishop Bell on the memorial problematic but it was felt to be appropriate in 1961 when the memorial was put in place.
“Changing, or adding to, a historic memorial is complex and it will take time to ensure that the cathedral’s response to the memorial is both appropriate to Bell’s historic legacy and to the circumstances following the settlement,” it said in a statement.
Volunteer guides at the cathedral have been told they may leave Bishop Bell out of tours if they wish.
The cathedral has already changed the name of its education centre from George Bell House to 4 Canon Lane.
However, journalist Peter Hitchens said an injustice was being done to Bishop Bell.
“There is a great rush to judgement by the Church, to trash the reputation of a great man,” he said.
“It believed nobody would care when it pronounced on the scantiest of evidence on that George Bell was guilty of this dreadful crime and is now proceeding with amazing speed to try to wipe out his memory.
“Nothing has been proved against George Bell.”
Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in October 1958.
During World War Two he was known for championing the people of Germany and made a speech in the House of Lords in February 1944 opposing Churchill’s policy of saturation bombing.
- Wartime bishop ‘abused girl in church’ Published 9 February 2016
- School to remove disgraced bishop’s name Published 20 January 2016
- Bishop’s 1950s sex victim gets payout Published 22 October 2015
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November 26 2017 – The Anglo-German “Reconciliation” Tapestry – Ursula Benker-Schirmer – Chichester Cathedral
The ’Anglo-German Tapestry’, which includes references to the life of St Richard, was commissioned to mark the centenary of Bishop Bell’s birth in 1983.
The Anglo-German Tapestry
Tapestry by Ursula Benker-Schirmer
The beautiful Anglo-German tapestry, designed by Ursula Benker-Schirmer took three and a half years from conception to completion and is made using pure linen, silk and cotton. It was designed to harmonise with the architecture and colours of nearby windows in the Cathedral. The centre panel was woven in Germany and the two side panels at West Dean College, near Chichester. Benker-Schirmer assembled the forms as if they were rock crystal fragments. The tapestry was dedicated on 15th June 1985.
The principal symbols of the tapestry are:
The Chalice: symbol of St Richard of Chichester, at the centre of the tapestry with the cross above it. The red wine at the bottom of the chalice signifies the blood of Christ.
The Candle: is light and fire.
The Fig Trees: in the side panels are symbols of life and fecundity. St Richard had one in his garden and taught a priest how to graft them.
The Fish: along the lower area are traditional Christian symbols.
The Dove: above the Cross; symbol of the Holy Spirit and of peace.
The Triangle: symbol of the Holy Trinity.
The Lotus: in red, it emerges from the water. It supports the chalice and the cross. It is often used as a Christian symbol of birth and rebirth in Christ.
The Serpent: emerges from the lotus and rises below the cross. It symbolises struggle, temptation, suffering and hardship.
The Cross: the symbol of the victorious cross is at the centre. It is the cross of suffering.
The Circle: the artist suggests several interpretations – the world, the cycle of life, the symbol of infinity, God at the centre of our life. The tapestry shows it broken to “open the way to Eternity”.
Famous Anglo-German Tapestry taken down for Shrine Refurbishment…
Removal of Tapestry
A refurbishment of the historic Shrine of St Richard at Chichester Cathedral is taking place throughout August. This interesting project will include the temporary removal for cleaning of the large and striking Anglo-German tapestry (approx 7m x 4m), the addition of specially designed metal grilles and candle stands, and the cleaning and restoration of the marble floor.
The refurbishment has generously been made possible by the Bishop Eric Kemp Memorial Fund. Bishop Eric (Bishop of Chichester 1974 to 2001) died in 2009. He often said he wished the Shrine could be restored and made more worthy of Sussex’s own Saint, St Richard.
The Shrine of St Richard has been a site of pilgrimage throughout the ages. Nowadays, the Shrine is a focus for prayer in the Cathedral where visitors can come and leave their prayers and petitions. It is not unusual for over 200 prayers to be left at the Shrine each week. Each day, these prayers are collected by the Cathedral Clergy and offered at Holy Communion service.
The Anglo-German Tapestry was placed at the altar in 1983 and was designed by Ursula Benker-Schirmer. This vibrant work is one of the Cathedral’s modern pieces and it is dedicated to two bishops of Chichester: St Richard (1245 – 1253), and Bishop George Bell (1929 – 1958), patron of the arts and founder of the World Council of Churches. The tapestry was woven in Germany and at West Dean College, near Chichester and took 3.5 years from conception to completion.
St Richard was Bishop of Chichester from 1245 – 1253 and died at Dover on 3rd April 1253. In his eight years as a bishop, Richard had become so beloved of the people of Sussex that the Cathedral immediately became a place of pilgrimage. The people said his name Ricardus stood for ridens (laughing), carus (dear) and dulcis (sweet).
In 1930 an altar was placed at the Shrine and in 1991 a portion of the authenticated relic, probably of St Richard’s arm, which had been preserved at the abbey of La Lucerne in Normandy, was interred beneath the altar.
Arundel-Bell Screen – Chichester Cathedral – RWS Photography
1961 – Newly-built Arundel Screen in Chichester Cathedral dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey – in memory of Bishop George Bell [thereon called The Arundel-Bell Screen]
“In 1961, Michael Ramsey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, went to Chichester Cathedral to dedicate the newly-built Arundel Screen, in memory of George Bell…”
CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL ENTERPRISES TO CLOSE ITS CLOISTERS CAFE [AKA BISHOP BELL TEA ROOMS] AND MAKE REDUNDANCIES
First, the bad news (‘Closure surely not justified / Dismayed by closure proposal’, Observer Letters, June 25): Chichester Cathedral Enterprises has closed its Cloisters Cafe – “aka Bishop Bell Tea Rooms” – and made redundancies.
Second, the good news: 4 Canon Lane has been restored back to its original name of George Bell House.
But is George Bell House – another ‘jewel in the crown’ of this city – now threatened with closure?
Richard W. Symonds
You’ll be pleased to know that the Chichester Cathedral guidebook has recently reappeared in the Cloisters bookshop – but with the paragraph on Bishop Bell’s supposed paedophilia replaced by a longer account of his friendship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I have written to the Chichester Observer mentioning this, since most people won’t know about it. I wonder if it represents the beginning of a change of stance from the Cathedral people; let’s hope so.
With best wishes,
The old Guidebook was printed by “Pitkin Publishing. The History Press…1/16” and the new Guidebook reprinted by “Pitkin Publishing. Pavilion Books Company Ltd…2/19” [ie printed in Feb 2019 – but on sale in Cloisters Bookshop at Chichester Cathedral in Nov 2019 – a 9-month delay]
This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017]
The Plaque reads:
“Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation”
Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.
Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.
In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:
“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”
Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society
* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral