Tag Archives: Andrew Chandler

December 15 2017 – “Archbishop criticised for refusing to clear bishop besmirched by the Church” – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard and Robert Mendick


Archbishop criticised for refusing to clear bishop besmirched by the Church

Bishop George Bell should not have been named by the Church, a report has found CREDIT: JOHN DOMINIS /THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been criticised for refusing to clear the bishop besmirched by the Church of England and saying instead that a “significant cloud” hangs over him.

A damning report published today by Lord Carlile of Berriew found that the reputation of Bishop George Bell, who was posthumously accused of sexually abusing a child, was “wrongfully and unnecessarily damaged” by the Church, who publicly named him in an apology made in 2015.

But in a statement following the report, Justin Welby said Bell was “accused of great wickedness” and apologises only “for the failures of the process”. 

“We have to differ from Lord Carlile’s point that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision’.

“The C of E is committed to transparency and therefore we would take a different approach,” he adds.

Lord Carlile said the Archbishop’s comments were “very disappointing”. 

“The implication of what he said is everybody accused should have their name made public, and that is just not acceptable,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Lord Carlile earlier said that he judged the prospect of a successful criminal prosecution, had the bishop been alive, as “low”.

Bell’s supporters also criticised the Archbishop’s response. 

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s friend Franz Hildebrandt, said Bishop Bell’s family deserved a personal apology from the Archbishop and the Bishop of Chichester. 

“The Church can’t have its cake and eat it. Either he is innocent, in which case they must apologise, or he is guilty, which they can’t prove, and the report makes clear that they have not proved,” she told this newspaper. 

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bell’s biographer, said the Archbishop’s statement was “wrong” and “illogical”. 

“It fails a basic test of rational justice,”he said. “It lacks an understanding of all kinds of dimensions which require compassion, not least in Chichester, where people feel deeply upset by this.”

The review found that the Church was wrong to publicly name Bell, who was accused by a woman known as Carol of sexually abusing her when she was a young child.

It also failed to thoroughly investigate the allegations, failed to find and inform Bell’s surviving family members of the investigation, and did not properly consider the impact on the bishop’s reputation when deciding what to do, Lord Carlile said.

The alleged abuse took place more than 60 years ago but the allegations were first made to the Church in 1995.

It paid compensation of £16,800 and £15,000 legal costs to “Carol” in 2015.

Lord Carlile of Berriew
Lord Carlile of Berriew: ‘The implication of what he said is everybody accused should have their name made public, and that is just not acceptable’. CREDIT: PACO ANSELMI /PA

Before the allegations were made public Bishop Bell was a highly respected theologian who was widely regarded as a hero for his work helping victims of Nazi persecution.

The report includes the findings of psychiatrist Professor Anthony Maden, which were given to Church officials in 2015, several months before the public apology was made.

He found that there were “enormous problems” because of the time elapsed, and said the “possibility of false memories in this case cannot be excluded”.

The alleged victim had been abused by her first husband, and Maden added that her unhappy early life meant there was “an obvious temptation to seek to (consciously or unconsciously) allocate the blame for that unhappiness to the actions of others in the distant past”.

In a statement Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.”

November 27 2017 – “Piety and Provocation: A Study of George Bell” by Andrew Chandler – Humanitas – George Bell Institute [2008]



Piety and Provocation: A Study of George Bell, Humanitas

Chandler, Andrew
George Bell Institute (2008)
Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk

It is easy for the denizens of Sussex to get George Bell out of proportion but the mainstay of Bell studies, Andrew Chandler does not make this mistake, even though he works at the Bell Institute in Chichester. The brief, clear-eyed survey of Bell’s life and achievements is summed up in his phrase “a costly failure”, not only for him but for the great causes he espoused of world peace and Christian unity. Chandler might have added his failure to inculcate a zeal for social justice into the Church of England which only surfaced under the extreme pressure of re-invigorated liberal capitalism in the late 1970s.

Sadly, Bell’s heritage is largely based on three myths. First, he is said to have opposed the area bombing of Dresden in 1945 which he did not; his major intervention took place in February 1944. This sheds light on the second myth, that Churchill turned him down for Canterbury because of his Dresden speech when, at worst, it might have been because of his actual speech although, Chandler notes, there were many and good reasons why Fisher should have been chosen. Thirdly, Bell is widely regarded as a pacifist although the two full length speeches at the back of this book flatly contradict this.

This is not to say that Bell did not have a full and fruitful life: his support of ecumenism laid a foundation on which we are still building today; his patronage of the arts – crowned by T.S. Eliot’s Murder in The Cathedral – has left a lasting heritage, not least in Chichester; and his writings, though not academically nor theologically profound, possess a directness of thought which refreshes the jaded mind.

Chandler finds it difficult to reach the core of a man who was private – even secretive – uncharismatic and self-effacing, presenting the biographer with a series of contradictions. One instance which Chandler does not note is that the zealously campaigning Bell only made his Lord’s maiden speech in 1938, nine years after taking his seat.

If you know about Bell, this brief survey is probably not for you but, then, as Chandler shows, most people only think they know him.

November 23 2017 – Reclamation, Restoration and Repatriation of the Bishop Bell Legacy [Part 1] “George Bell Bishop of Chichester” by Ronald C.D. Jasper (OUP 1967) and “George Bell, Bishop of Chichester” by Andrew Chandler (Eerdmans 2016)



The Reclamation of Bishop Bell [Part 1]

“George Bell Bishop of Chichester” by Ronald C.D. Jasper (OUP 1967), and

“George Bell, Bishop of Chichester” by Andrew Chandler (Eerdmans 2016)

October 31 2017 – “Bishop Bell declared peace on war. We silence him at our peril. His exculpation may well prove a critical pre-condition for our very survival” ~ Richard W. Symonds ~ Richard W. Symonds [The Bell Society]


“Bishop Bell declared peace on war. We silence him at our peril. His exculpation may well prove a critical pre-condition for our very survival”

~ Richard W. Symonds [The Bell Society]


img_9510 (2)

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.

October 18 2017 – “Act promptly” – Bishop George Bell – ‘The Caution List’ – January 1939


“Act promptly” – Bishop Bell – Page 197

“He belonged to his age and still has the power to belong to another” – Andrew Chandler on Bishop Bell – Page 166

‘In 1946 the bishops of the Church of England received on “absolutely confidential” terms a compendium of the codes and practices of episcopacy. Drawn from the official minutes of the Bishops’ Meetings, this presented a selection of decisions on a variety of matters agreed by the bishops across the first half of the twentieth century, and it allows the historian to understand more clearly how the episcopacy understood itself, not in public but behind closed doors.

‘Here, for example, among the sections listed in the table of contents is one on “Clergy: Discipline and Disability.” Over this it is worth pausing, not least because perhaps the only official, printed acknowledgement that there existed in the Church of England a Caution List.

‘[The Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘To the outside world there is no such thing as the Caution List.”] This named priests known to have been guilty of criminal or moral offenses or viewed with “grave suspicion.”

‘In fact, there were national and diocesan caution lists, and each diocesan bishop was advised to keep his own up-to-date, to consult it before making any appointment, and to pass any new name directly to Lambeth Palace. 

‘This significant, secret manual of episcopal practice was no ordinary labor, and it required no ordinary editor. A prefatory note by Archbishop Fisher announced, “We owe the revision of a record first compiled in 1912 to the industry of the Bishop of Chichester.” [Note 2: Private Memoranda of certain matters discussed at the Bishops’ Meetings of Bishops of the Three Provinces of Canterbury, York and Wales held at Lambeth Palace (1902-1945), together with certain Resolutions adopted by the Convocations of Canterbury and York (1946), Bell Papers, vol. 306. Bell was clearly proud of this publication, writing his name and the exact date of issue (10 January 1946) on the flyleaf]

‘When Bell became chaplain to Archbishop Davidson he would have taken the minutes of these important, but private, meetings of bishops. After he became a bishop himself he never rested content merely to accept the official minutes now provided by his successors . He made his own.

‘It is interesting to compare his notes with the official record from which the 1946 compendium was drawn. Discussion of clergy discipline seldom occurred, for they were regarded as diocesan matters.

‘But when the revision of the Caution List was raised in January 1939 Bell’s notes, though abbreviated, become strikingly firm.

‘”Act promptly,” he writes in bold handwriting, underlining the words not once but twice.

‘This stands out on the page because Bell seldom drew a single line under a word in these meetings , and in all the notes that he made across almost thirty years it is indeed one of the very few times that any phrase or word was emphasized not once, but twice. The word “proofs” follows clearly, though further words are obscure. [Note 3: Bell Papers, vol. 301, p. 5]

‘By the late 1940s and early 1950s Bell was in age and experience a very senior bishop indeed, one whose authority was called upon by both archbishops if they were poorly placed, or unable, to execute a confidential duty themselves. The author knows of one case of clergy discipline in which Bell was asked to intervene. Indeed, by now a working relationship with the Caution List had been a part of almost Bell’s entire career…

‘The allegation of 2015 is anomalous. Indeed, it seems to exist in its own world, evidently uncorroborated by any other independent source. It also remains unique, for apparently no other such accusation has arisen.

‘In sum, we are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony, and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.

‘The corollary of such a method may now be witnessed in the hasty removal of his name or image from public institutions and commemorations.

‘It may simply be observed here that such iconoclastic activities are not unknown to historians of other, far darker, times and contexts’. 


[Source: “George Bell, Bishop of Chichester – Church, State, and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship” by Andrew Chandler – Eerdmans 2016 – ‘Postlude: History and Allegation’ – Pages 196 to 199]