BISHOP’S PALACE IN WELLS and Churches in Rural Areas: Church Commissioners’ Written Answers

On 14th January 2014, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered written questions from Tessa Munt MP and Anne McIntosh MP, on the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, and churches in rural areas.

Tony Baldry MP

Bishop of Bath and Wells

Tessa Munt: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the reasons are for the Church Commissioners’ decision to purchase alternative accommodation for the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Sir Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners have always kept under review the suitability of its houses to meet the needs of a diocesan bishop and facilitate his mission. In the case of the Palace at Wells, the Commissioners concluded that more suitable arrangements could be made for the ministry and living conditions of the new Bishop if he were not to live in the Palace, which is operated by the Palace Trust as a visitor attraction. The Bishop and the Bishop of Taunton will continue to be based and work at the Palace.

The Commissioners are in the process of purchasing a residential property near Wells as an investment opportunity. This property could be used as a temporary home for the new Bishop while they work with him and the Diocese to identify a permanent property.


Churches: Rural Areas

Miss McIntosh: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the proportion of the Church Estate which is in rural areas; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Tony Baldry: The rural portfolio of the Church Commissioner investments makes up just over one third of the value of the investment property owned by the Church Commissioners (36%). All of the land is let on appropriate leases.

These rural investments comprise:

Farmland (spread across England and just into Wales);

Forestry (mainly based in Scotland with smaller parcels of forestry in England);

Mineral workings (including a number of quarries based in England);

Residential and commercial property (which is made up of predominantly of farms or in the location of the farmland holdings in England).

The Church Commissioners manage this rural land portfolio along with their other investments to fund the work of the Church of England providing long term and sustainable support for the mission of the Church particularly in the Dioceses in the most deprived regions of the country. The Commissioners currently contribute 15 pence in every pound towards the cost of the Church of England, its mission and strategic aims.


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