- Bishop of Bath and Wells
The Bishop of Bath and Wells heads the
Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wellsin the Province of Canterburyin England. The present diocese covers the vast majority of the (ceremonial) county of Somersetand a small area of Dorset. The Episcopal seat is located in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in the city of Wellsin Somerset. The Bishop's residence is The Palace, Wells.
The current bishop is the Right Reverend
Peter Price, the seventy seventh Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, who signs "Peter Bath: et Well:".
Somerset originally came under the authority of the
Bishop of Sherborne, but Wellsbecame the seat of its own Bishop of Wells from 909. King William Rufusgranted Bath to a royal physician, John de Villula, Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath, who was permitted to move his episcopal seat for Somersetfrom Wells to Bath in 1090, thereby becoming the first Bishop of Bath. He planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it.
In 1197, Bishop
Savaric FitzGeldewinofficially moved his seat to Glastonbury Abbeywith the approval of Pope Celestine III. However, the monks there would not accept their new Bishop of Glastonbury and the title of Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury was used until the Glastonbury claim was abandoned in 1219. His successor, Jocelin of Wells, then returned to Bath, again under the title, Bishop of Bath. The official episcopal title became Bishop of Bath and Wells under a Papal ruling of 3 January 1245.
By the 15th century, Bath Cathedral was badly dilapidated.
Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided in 1500 to rebuild it on a smaller scale. The new cathedral was completed just a few years before Bath Priory was dissolved in 1539. Then Henry VIII considered this new cathedral redundant, and it was sold to the people of Bath to form their parish church. The last bishop in communion with Rome was deprived in 1559 but the succession of bishops has continued to the present day.
The diocese and the episcopate are today part of the Anglican Communion.
In popular culture
Fictional bishops of this title repeatedly appear in the "
Blackadder" series. In " The Foretelling", the first episode of Series 1, Edmund mistakenly claims the bishop as one of the people he killed in battle. The episode "Money" from features a psychotically violent bishop of this title, called "The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells". Others are mentioned in at least two skits by Monty Pythonand yet another in the BBC radio comedy "Absolute Power".
List of Bishops of Bath and Wells and precursor offices
*L. S. Colchester (ed.). (1982). "Wells Cathedral: A History". Open Books.
*Joseph Haydn. (1894). "Haydn's Book of Dignities". Horace Ockerby.
*Joseph Whitaker (2004). "Whitaker's Almanack 1883 to 2004". A&C Black, London.
* [http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page2749.asp 10 Downing Street Official Website]
* [http://britannia.com/history/resource/bishbath.html Britannia: Bishops of Bath & Wells]
* [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/lists/wells.html Early British Kingdoms: Bishops of Wells, A Pre-Conquest Listing]
* [http://www.bathwells.anglican.org Official Diocese of Bath & Wells Website]
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