Tag Archives: 4 Canon Lane

An Anniversary Tribute to Bishop George Bell by Fr. Michael Fullagar – on the eve of the Coburg Conference in Chichester

gerbellg5

Bishop George Bell

Dear Reader

(A victim of some strange illness these last months, I have not been officiating , but I wanted to honour on the anniversary of his heavenly birthday George Bell, one Bishop whom many of us consider great).

As a graduate, I was an ordinand at Chichester Theological College  for just eight terms between 1957-1959.  As the College was short of accommodation at the time, I spent  my second year in a room  on the top floor of the Bishop’s Palace.   I was already well acquainted with the Bishop’s Chapel, as that served  also as the College Chapel, where we assembled, except when we worshipped in the Cathedral. Later on we had our own Chapel and a new Building, the latter due to the generosity of many, till the C. of E. closed down our oldest Theological College. It was due to the kindness of Bishop George Bell, one of the great Bishops of Chichester, that for a time both my spiritual and bodily home was to be in the Palace. We did not see the Bishop very often, but memories remain vivid of both him and Henrietta, his splendid wife.

As I am one of a dwindling  number of former students still alive who remember those days, Andrew Chandler,  of the University of Chichester, George’s excellent biographer and defender against calumny, asked me among others specific questions about the Palace Building as it was. Of course, if the accusers had only spoken to George Bell’s former Chaplain, who was still alive at the time, a Chaplain never far from the Palace, they would have learned that the Bishop was abroad for much of the time they mentioned. Nor did he ever own a Rolls Royce, as was suggested. If George Bell were by any chance aware of allegations made against his name, I imagine he would raise a wry smile, for this good man had to face opposition for much of his life, not least from Bishops and Politicians.

In George Bell’s memory, the Arundel screen in the Cathedral has been restored and re-erected. On one side is a profile of Bell with the inscription – ‘GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER 1929 -1958. A TRUE PASTOR. POET AND PATRON OF THE ARTS. CHAMPION OF THE OPPRESSED AND TIRELESS WORKER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY.’ Fresh flowers  were placed underneath the bronze even before  accusers apologised. One of George’s final acts was to dedicate in his honour Bishop Bell School, Eastbourne, now renamed St Catherine’s College, though I wonder which Catherine they mean (the Alexandrian  ‘Wheel’ one or Siena) . I cannot find any answer to that, and have not heard of any plans to bring back the original name.

As far as I know, George Bell House at 4 Canon Lane, has not as yet had its proper name restored, although George’s fourth successor as Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has apologised, (incidentally the previous three being Roger Wilson, Eric Kemp and John Hind, all of whom I have had the privilege to meet) .   

We remain proud of George Bell’s connection with this glorious Church of St Mary, Hampden Park, which he consecrated on 24th October, 1953. As we enter the Church, we do not fail to see on the outer wall that tribute to a beloved Bishop.

A son of the Vicarage, winning the Newdigate prize at Oxford for a poem, then at Wells Theological College, George went to work in Leeds, where he greatly admired the social work of the Methodists. Later, as a Domestic Chaplain to Randall Davidson at Canterbury, George wrote his two volume official biography.

As a distinguished pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement, George befriended the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis on 9th April, 1945, at Flossenburg Concentration Camp. In 1938-9, Bell helped 90 people  escape from Germany to Britain. He spoke passionately in the House of Lords against the blanket bombing of civilians in Germany, which did him no earthly favours with either Prelates or Politicians. Many people believe that he would have become Archbishop of Canterbury rather than Geoffrey Fisher, if he had not been opposed by the Archbishop of York, and if Winston Churchill had not vetoed the appointment.

We continue to honour George Bell as ecumenist and peacemaker. As Patron of the Arts as Dean of Canterbury he enabled, among other events, the staging of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’. Later he supported the gift of murals to St Elisabeth’s, Eastbourne, the artist being Hans Feibusch, and also work by the Bloomsbury Group from Charleston on the walls of Berwick Church.

George and Hetty Bell left Chichester in 1958 for retirement in Canterbury but not for long. In that same year on October 3rd he died. Ronald Jasper, his first biographer wrote of George. ‘He will go down in history as one of the special glories of the Church of England: in days to come when the Catholic Church recovers again its lost unities, men will still remember the debt for that recovery owed to George Bell’.

When I lived in the Palace, very few of us could afford a car. One could and gave me lifts to Arundel for Sunday Evening Benediction. Another rose to owning a bubble car. Nevertheless, our parking by the Palace incurred the very voluble opposition of Hetty Bell, a marvellous sort of friendly dragon, whom we all loved. This outspoken lady was complemented by her husband who seemed almost shy at times. When we heard of the Bishop’s departure, some of us clubbed together to buy them a Kenwood food mixer. ‘Oh, excellent!’, was the immediate response of Hetty. ‘George was always a good mixer!’ And so he was, though subsequently I have also read into her remark, intended or not, that, when necessary, Bishop Bell was also prepared to stir things up. But then, in the words of the Prayer Book Collect, we are urged to pray:

‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded. ‘ Amen.

 

Rev Michael Fullagar Michael Fullagar was Rector at Freemantle for nine years, from 1978-87. Before coming to Freemantle he had worked in Zaire.

Priest-in-Charge at Westbury, he was appointed Chaplain to Wycombe General Hospital in 1994.

Now retired Michael helps out in the Benefice of St Mary Hampden Park and St Peter the Hydneye, Eastbourne

4 Canon Lane / George Bell House

4 Canon Lane / George Bell House – Chichester

GBH-Exterior-with-Cathedral (2)

4 Canon Lane, formerly known as George Bell House (its rightful name – likely to be restored … see NOTE below), is a guest house set within the cathedral grounds in a fantastic location tucked behind the Cathedral and next to the beautiful Bishop’s Gardens. The house is a historic building, full of character with décor in keeping with the period. Set in a quiet location the building has a restful atmosphere. It is ideally located for exploring the charming town centre of Chichester, its cathedral or visit the Festival Theatre – all within walking distance!
4 Canon Lane is used for many purposes and only has 8 rooms. The rooms are comfortable without being elaborate. Some of the upstairs rooms have wonderful views of the cathedral or gardens. In particular, the 2 large doubles, Room 4 overlooking the garden and Room 5 overlooking the Cathedral are more expensive but apparently worth it. Smaller rooms are to the side and have showers, not baths.

It would seem that there are significant different differences between the rooms – with the better rooms unsurprisingly in demand – so early booking is advised…

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral – before the name change [Picture: Alamy]

NOTE:

Due to unsubstantiated allegations, George Bell House has been renamed 4 Canon Lane. However, in the absence of any actual proof, court judgement or any admission of liability on behalf of the Church of England, it is expected that 4 Canon Lane will have its previous name of George Bell House restored.
Without proof or independent substantive evidence, there is no justification to excise the extraordinary legacy of Bishop George Bell or his memory…

The Church of England also seems to need reminding that in the United Kingdom a man is innocent until actually proven guilty.

Although it is for [Dean and] Chapter to decide, it is expected 4 Canon Lane will revert back to its former title of George Bell House following an Extraordinary meeting of the Chichester Cathedral Council on 17 January 2018.

Amen to that.

170461775

January 26 2018 – “Church loses legacy over paedophile bishop ‘myth'” – Daily Telegraph + Letters: “Welby must change his stance on Bishop Bell”

IMG_0719

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-daily-telegraph/20180126/281736974881073

November 25 2017 – Memorial Service in Chichester Cathedral for the Duke who signed the Bell Petition

nintchdbpict000349853528

The 10th Duke of Richmond and Gordon [Photo by Jonathan Stewart]

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/around-600-expected-for-the-late-duke-s-service-at-chichester-cathedral-1-8262658

“The extraordinary life of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon will be celebrated at a memorial service at Chichester Cathedral on Saturday (today)…The Queen will be represented by Susan Pyper, Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex…Naomi March, the late Duke’s adopted daughter will read ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling and the Earl of March, the grandson of the late Duke, will read, ‘Turn Again to Life’ by Mary Lee Hall [“Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine…”]…

“Paying tribute at the time, his son, now the 11th Duke of Richmond and Gordon, called his father unorthodox, a free-thinker and deeply committed to improving the area”

[“Around 600 guests expected at the Duke’s memorial service” – Chichester Observer – November 23 2017 – Page 5]

 

RWS Note: The late Duke of Richmond and Gordon signed The Bell Petition a few months before his death in September 2016 – a Petition which included the restoration of George Bell House.

 

Charles Moore on Bishop Bell – The Spectator – November 25 2017

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/11/the-queen-and-prince-philips-70th-anniversary-party-sounds-glorious/ 

“Just over two years ago, the Church of England authorities hurriedly condemned George Bell because of claims that he had abused a child nearly 70 years ago. They paid money to the alleged victim. Bell, Bishop of Chichester and the leading British supporter of Christian resistance to Hitler, died in 1958. Many protested at the process by which Bell had been condemned. No contemporary documents seemed to have been studied and no surviving witnesses, such as his domestic chaplain, had been asked for their testimony. The mere accusation carried all before it. So great was the anger that the Archbishop of Canterbury courageously decided to review the decision to which he had been party and called in Lord Carlile QC to review the process which damned Bell. Lord Carlile reported in early October, and the steer was that the church would release his report roughly now. On Monday, however, a C of E press release said that the authorities ‘are at the stage of responding with feedback from those who contributed’. ‘This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication,’ it explained. A few months! Obviously those criticised should be allowed to comment privately on what the report says, but there was only one accuser and only one supposed perpetrator. This is not the Chilcot report. Two thoughts occur. The first is that the delay strongly suggests that Lord Carlile has found the process to have been severely wanting. The second is that the ‘safeguarding’ team at the heart of the process are being much better safeguarded than ever poor Bell was” – Charles Moore

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral

The entrance door to george bell house in chichester partly open

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral – before the name change [Picture: Alamy]

IMG_0239

4 Canon Lane – November 2017 – RWS Photography

IMG_0240

4 Canon Lane – November 2017 – RWS Photography

IMG_0248

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral [circa 2014]

IMG_0295 (1)