Throughout English history bishops have had a prominent role in both Church and State. They have been involved in the making and unmaking of monarchs; have played a leading part in national and local government; have sought to uphold spiritual ...
values (though often enough have fallen victim to pride, ambition and avarice); have rarely been universally admired; yet seem certain to remain a part of the English establishment. The last two centuries have nonetheless seen radical changes in the role of bishops, corresponding to equally radical changes in church and society. At the same time the Episcopal bench has been occupied by a colourful assembly of courtiers, aristocrats, scholars, headmasters, social reformers, controversialists, heretics and some godly pastors. In this lively and entertaining volume, Trevor Beeson describes many of the greatest and most engaging among them. With a wealth of amusing detail and anecdote, as well as a skilful marshalling of the essential facts, he brings the bishops alive, and considers their significance in the social and ecclesiastical history of their times. He ends by asking why such able and interesting bishops are now in short supply and wonders whether the hectically busy managerial role assumed by the bishops of the new millennium represents a betrayal of the Episcopal office and a consequent weakening of the Church's witness in an increasingly secularized society. Looking not far ahead, the likely impact of women bishops is also discussed. 'This book is a carefully crafted and often deliciously funny study of the great Anglican bishops...It will give pleasure to anyone interested in the Church of England' (The Daily Telegraph) 'Here is a richly entertaining book, but one with a stinging sub-text' (Church Times) Trevor Beeson was a Canon of Westminster Abbey for nearly eleven years and for five of these was also Rector of St Margaret's Westminster and Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. He was then Dean of Winchester from 1987 to 1996 and was awarded the OBE for services to Winchester Cathedral. His many books include A Dean's Diary: Winchester 1987-1996, Rebels and Refmners, and A Vision of Hope.