Bishops move to downsize

By staff writers
21 Jul 2004

Bishops move to downsize

-21/7/04

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, has become the latest prelate to announce plans to move to more modest accommodation, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The same newspaper recently called for Bishops to receive a pay increase.

However, Bishop Packer wrote in his diocesan magazine that he felt impelled by the gospel to quit Bishop Mount, his six-bedroom Victorian house in Ripon, so that he could be closer to his flock in Leeds.

The Bishop described his present home, which is valued at £1 million, as "delightful", but admitted that it was too large and costly to heat and had extensive grounds that meant paying and housing a full-time gardener.

He is not alone in his desire to "downsize" and his move comes amid a review of bishops' palaces and houses by their landlords, the Church Commissioners, which is expected to result in a number of sales.

The Bishop of Southwell, in Nottinghamshire, the Rt Rev George Cassidy, has indicated his willingness to move out of the 22-bedroom Bishop's Manor.

Like the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Bishop Cassidy, who lives in a six-bedroom wing of the manor, is now negotiating with the commissioners and the diocese about his future arrangements.

"I want to do my best to ensure that my successor will have the least disruption in his or her ministry from the word go," said the bishop, who is four years from the normal retirement age of 65.

The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Rev John Price, is already installed in a new home after the commissioners sold the traditional residence, the Grade II-listed Queen Anne Bishop's House in Bristol, for more than £1.5 million.

The Church's portfolio of episcopal residences is worth an estimated £80 million.

Of the 44 diocesan bishops' houses, the majority are listed: 13 are classed as heritage properties and nine as palaces. Since 1948, about 30 have been sold, including those in Ely, Gloucester, Lichfield, Norwich and Bristol.

New guidelines on suitable accommodation for bishops recommend five bedrooms, two bathrooms, two reception rooms able to hold 12 diners or a buffet for 30, a study, three offices, a staff kitchen and cloakroom, a family-sized garden and parking.

The commissioners say that the future of each house will be reviewed when the resident bishop is 62, in consultation with him, his family and the diocese. Nearly half of the bishops are over 60.

Properties that could be on the market include Auckland Castle, the Bishop of Durham's residence; Hartlebury Castle, home to Bishops of Worcester for more than 800 years; and Rose Castle, the Bishop of Carlisle's fortified manor, which has a chapel and listed wallpaper.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, has become the latest prelate to announce plans to move to more modest accommodation, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The same newspaper recently called for Bishops to receive a pay increase.

However, Bishop Packer wrote in his diocesan magazine that he felt impelled by the gospel to quit Bishop Mount, his six-bedroom Victorian house in Ripon, so that he could be closer to his flock in Leeds.

The Bishop described his present home, which is valued at £1 million, as "delightful", but admitted that it was too large and costly to heat and had extensive grounds that meant paying and housing a full-time gardener.

He is not alone in his desire to "downsize" and his move comes amid a review of bishops' palaces and houses by their landlords, the Church Commissioners, which is expected to result in a number of sales.

The Bishop of Southwell, in Nottinghamshire, the Rt Rev George Cassidy, has indicated his willingness to move out of the 22-bedroom Bishop's Manor.

Like the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Bishop Cassidy, who lives in a six-bedroom wing of the manor, is now negotiating with the commissioners and the diocese about his future arrangements.

"I want to do my best to ensure that my successor will have the least disruption in his or her ministry from the word go," said the bishop, who is four years from the normal retirement age of 65.

The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Rev John Price, is already installed in a new home after the commissioners sold the traditional residence, the Grade II-listed Queen Anne Bishop's House in Bristol, for more than £1.5 million.

The Church's portfolio of episcopal residences is worth an estimated £80 million.

Of the 44 diocesan bishops' houses, the majority are listed: 13 are classed as heritage properties and nine as palaces. Since 1948, about 30 have been sold, including those in Ely, Gloucester, Lichfield, Norwich and Bristol.

New guidelines on suitable accommodation for bishops recommend five bedrooms, two bathrooms, two reception rooms able to hold 12 diners or a buffet for 30, a study, three offices, a staff kitchen and cloakroom, a family-sized garden and parking.

The commissioners say that the future of each house will be reviewed when the resident bishop is 62, in consultation with him, his family and the diocese. Nearly half of the bishops are over 60.

Properties that could be on the market include Auckland Castle, the Bishop of Durham's residence; Hartlebury Castle, home to Bishops of Worcester for more than 800 years; and Rose Castle, the Bishop of Carlisle's fortified manor, which has a chapel and listed wallpaper.

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