See Houses Review

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See Houses Review Powered By Docstoc
					                                        THE CHURCH COMMISSIONERS FOR ENGLAND


Chapter 1 How the review came about

1    The genesis of this review lies in the first Mellows Report, „Resourcing Bishops‟,
     commissioned by the Archbishops and published in June 2001. This recommended that the
     Commissioners should reappraise their guidelines for see houses, and commented on certain
     specific issues such as the image presented by the see house, the size of the garden and
     grounds, the location of the bishop‟s office, and the special considerations which should apply
     when the see house is a „heritage‟ property.

2    The report also recommended that the ownership of see houses should be transferred to
     their respective dioceses without payment. This recommendation was made subject to each
     diocese being allowed to change the house, if it so decided, before ownership was transferred
     from the Commissioners.

3    In making this particular recommendation the Report recognised that special legislation would
     first be required if the Commissioners were to transfer these properties. The
     Commissioners, however, were gravely concerned at the prospect of legislating in an area so
     fundamental to one of their main purposes – the holding of assets on behalf of the Church.

4    The Archbishops‟ Consultations Group, the body charged with taking forward the „Mellows‟
     recommendations, acknowledged this concern. The Group agreed that see houses should not
     be transferred to the dioceses, and that the Commissioners should undertake a strategic
     review of the see house portfolio. The Board of Governors endorsed this approach at its
     meeting of 21 February 2002.

5    The terms of reference of the review were as follows:

        „To undertake a review of the see houses currently managed by the Commissioners, with regard
        to their values, running costs and suitability, by:

            a. considering all the relevant legal and financial factors;
            b. agreeing, after consultation with interested parties, suitability guidelines for diocesan
               bishops‟ living and working accommodation;
            c. identifying those see houses which fall outside the guidelines in order that appropriate
                  follow-up action might take place.

          This will involve consideration of a number of different factors, including the following:

                        i. legal and historical background;
                       ii. the findings of the 1990s review of see houses;
                      iii. analysis of values and costs (including projections of future costs);
                      iv.  the current and likely future use of see houses and their grounds (e.g. for office
                           meetings, functions, visitors, garden parties, and alternative ways in which such
                           needs might be met);
                       v. the current suitability guidelines for diocesan bishops‟ living and working
                           accommodation, with a view to their development;
                       vi. the current provision (by dioceses) of suffragan bishops‟ living and working
                           accommodation; and
                      vii. issues which may impact on the flexibility of any see house strategy (e.g. heritage
                           considerations, heirlooms, and associated „tied‟ and tenanted accommodation).

6   Implicit in these terms was the need to ensure, as „Resourcing Bishops‟ had sought to do, that
    in housing terms each diocesan bishop was properly resourced in order to carry out his
    ministry effectively.

7   These terms of reference were not intended to cover the accommodation of the two
    Archbishops, which formed part of the brief of the second Mellows Report, „Resourcing
    Archbishops.‟ However, when considering the recommendations of this report the Board of
    Governors agreed (19 November 2002) to include the Old Palace Canterbury within the
    scope of the Strategic Review. The same applied to Bishopthorpe, but with the caveat that
    any assessment of the suitability of the Palace should, at the same time, address the specific
    proposals made about it in Mellows Two.

Chapter 2         The consultation process

1   The terms of reference envisaged widespread consultation of those with an interest in the see
    house. The review adopted a two-staged approach. The first stage involved visiting those
    immediately concerned with the house: the diocesan bishop, his spouse, family, and staff, and
    seeking the views of each suffragan bishop by means of a questionnaire. The aim here was to
    formulate guidelines for wider consultation.

2   Following the successful completion of the first stage of the consultation, a set of new
    principles and guidelines of „suitability‟ was formulated, and approved by both the House of
    Bishops and the Commissioners‟ Board of Governors. These principles and guidelines
    formed the basis of the second stage of the consultation, and the recommendations made in
    this report take account of the feedback received from those consulted.

3   This second stage was designed to tap a wider range of interests, given the role of the bishop
    in the diocese and the community. For this exercise the interested parties chosen comprised
    the following groups:

    (a)   The Representative of the Bishops‟ Spouses;
    (b)   Bishops‟ Councils;
    (c)   Chairmen of Diocesan Boards of Finance;
    (d)   Diocesan Secretaries;

    (e) Dean and Chapters;
    (f) The Archbishops‟ Adviser on Bishops‟ Ministry; and
    (g) Local Authorities.

4   A presentation was also made at a fringe meeting to members of the General Synod.

Chapter 3       About the See house

1   Perceptions about the nature and significance of see houses abound. What is clear is that the
    house is seen as something greater than the sum of its constituent elements: role, place and
    function. Like all housing in the Church of England this perception is the product of a host of
    factors, particularly history, expectation, and symbolism. The house is more likely to be seen
    as the house of successive bishops and an adjunct of the Church rather than a house occupied
    by an individual who is a bishop, and who looks to that house as a resource for his ministry
    and a home for his family.

2   The future of the ancient houses looms large, and it is worth considering why this is. Not only
    have these houses been the seats of bishops for centuries, but they also represent the
    bishop‟s temporal past as well as his spiritual role. The spiritual aspect of the building is a
    product of its function as the base of successive bishops who, by their presence, invest the
    building with spirituality – a spirituality which will pass with them as they move from house to
    house. The temporal aspect however, is the accretion of history and even resonates in the
    titles of some buildings – „castle‟ or „palace‟ – a reminder that they accommodated bishops
    whose duties were not only to be the spiritual guardians of their people, but also their civil
    protectors, and overlords too. The style and the scale of the mediaeval see houses are
    reflections of the place of the bishop in mediaeval society. So it is hardly surprising that these
    buildings are potent symbols of the Church‟s presence and belonging in the area.

3   These buildings are part and parcel of the history and the cultural fabric of the nation, and
    represent the deep roots of the established Church. The responses they evoke will vary from
    person to person. For some it will be the history that the building represents that is
    significant, where the building, rather than its purpose, is the thing. For others it might be the
    influence and authority of the Church that the building represents, and the role that the
    bishop plays in the area and in society. Yet others will see it as a base for spiritual leadership
    and, while the bishop and his family occupy these houses they must represent, particularly to
    those in the diocese who see the house in productive use, a very relevant manifestation of
    the continuity of the Church‟s life.

4   Besides Lambeth Palace, there are now only eighteen buildings which have a centuries-old
    association with the Church. Of these, some have had a varied episcopal past and some, like
    Hartlebury Castle for instance, only became the main residence of the Bishops of Worcester
    in 1846. Indeed, the majority of the present houses, some thirty-three, have been provided
    over the last century, and around twenty-six of those have been provided since the transfer
    of the see houses into the Commissioners‟ ownership during and after the Second World
    War. Amongst these replacement houses are a few, like Lincoln for example, which have an
    historic ecclesiastical past, perhaps as a former cathedral property, and have become
    Episcopal homes comparatively recently.

5   Thus, many see houses have no ecclesiastical tradition and can be viewed on their merits,
    judged solely on their suitability as a family home and as an effective base from which the
    bishop can conduct his ministry. This is the outcome of two processes: the creation of new
    dioceses in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the gradual replacement of unsuitable
    houses over time, a process which continues to this day.

6   The recent history of the see house portfolio is touched on in Chapter 5, but it is worth
    bearing in mind that see houses have been replaced over time, and even the historic houses
    that are still retained have been altered by successive bishops to meet the needs of the day.
    Indeed, Bishop‟s Manor in Southwell, built to the design of the architect William Caröe in
    1907, incorporates part of the ruins of a former palace of the Archbishop of York.

7   This continual evolution is well illustrated in the number of former see houses scattered
    across the country: these include Amberley Castle, the Palace at Danbury, Addington Palace,
    and the Old Palaces at Worcester, Salisbury, and Chester to mention but a few. While these
    buildings have strong ecclesiastical associations, these connections are considerably
    diminished when the bishops have left them or when they cease to be a focus of Church life.
    Where a suitable use has been found for them, and particularly one which enables them to
    continue as, in some sense, „public space‟, it is interesting to see how these buildings have
    been transmogrified into their new roles, and how easily and invisibly they are absorbed into
    the landscape in their new guise. A fine example is the Old Palace, Ely, in the Cathedral
    grounds, now used as a Sue Ryder Home.

8   As the Church continues this time-honoured process of looking afresh at the houses
    occupied by bishops, particularly those historic houses with a long ecclesiastical history,
    certain issues need to be considered. For example, how does the Church view its
    stewardship of these buildings? In considering the stewardship of its buildings, how does the
    Church balance the need to accept its inheritance of historic houses, to be used and handed
    on to the next generation, with the need to use its capital and income wisely? And, not least,
    how can these buildings be best used to support the bishop in promoting the mission of the
    Church in this generation?

Chapter 4      Legal Issues

1   Ownership of all see houses passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under the terms of
    the Episcopal Endowments and Stipends Measure 1943. Before then bishops were paid an
    income by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This income was secured by a legal charge on
    their former estates which had become vested in the Commissioners by the Ecclesiastical
    Commissioners Act 1860. The 1943 Measure effectively completed the process of
    disendowing the bishops started during the reforms of the 1830s (which included the
    formation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners).

2   The 1943 Measure owed its genesis in the main to the bishops themselves. Many were finding
    the cost of maintaining a large and expensive see house out of their endowment income,
    while also meeting their administrative costs, an intolerable burden. So, in collaboration with
    the Commissioners, they promoted legislation to bring about the necessary change. The fact

    that they were confident to do this was perhaps because at that time all diocesan bishops
    were Church Commissioners. 1

3   The Measure was not simply a device designed to shift a burden from the bishops to the
    Commissioners. The Commissioners were given powers to change, convert, demolish or
    dispose of a house which they deemed to be unsuitable, and also to provide a replacement.
    These powers were exercised when the endowments of each bishop were transferred, and as
    part of that process each house was vetted and dealt with accordingly.

Chapter 5        Suitability of See Houses

1   Alongside these powers, the Commissioners also gained the authority to assess what
    constituted a „suitable‟ house. At that time it was defined in the following terms:

    “….„suitable‟ means a house the necessity of occupying which at a rent payable to the
    Commissioners cannot reasonably be regarded by a clergyman without private means as an
    insuperable obstacle to acceptance by him of the See. It does not mean „ideal‟ or „suited‟ to
    the ideas of any particular occupant of the See.” (Memorandum for the Guidance of Bishops
    published by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners 1945).

2   The upshot of all this was the replacement of 19 houses (some of which have, in turn, again
    been replaced), and a programme to make the remainder suitable. This amounted to a
    comprehensive package which re-defined the nature of the see house in line with the
    standards of the day, and took until 1960 to complete.

3   The responsibility to define „suitability‟ currently rests with the Board of Governors, but the
    Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee carries out that assessment, together with the
    management of the see houses, on the Board‟s behalf. The present definition was agreed
    between the Commissioners and the House of Bishops in 1975, and reaffirmed in 1995, as
    part of the last review of see houses.

4   In the years prior to the 1995 review 6 houses were replaced. The review itself resulted in
    the replacement of a further 3 houses, and the investment of substantial sums in bringing the
    other houses up to standard, with particular attention being paid to the improvement of the
    public/private divide. That the process of review is ongoing is demonstrated by the decision in
    2003 to replace the Bristol house.

5   The Commissioners were also given the statutory power to let the see house to the bishop.
    Initially the Commissioners granted a lease to each incoming bishop, who paid them a rent in
    return. The practice of charging rent, shown as the Commissioners‟ income, and treating the
    reimbursement of the rent by the Commissioners to the bishop as the bishop‟s costs, did
    have the merit of putting a price on the use of the Commissioners‟ capital. However, this
    practice was brought to a close in the 60‟s.

  That position changed only recently with the alterations to the Commissioners’ constitution made by the National
Institutions Measure 1998, with diocesan bishops – as a class – no longer members of the Commissioners. Instead four
bishops, who are not necessarily diocesans, are elected by the House of Bishops as Church Commissioners. The two
Archbishops are also ex-officio Commissioners.

6   Subsequently written licences to occupy the houses (i.e. „lettings‟ in the broadest sense) were
    granted to the bishops by the Commissioners, but they fell out of use. However, in line with
    the recommendations of the Mellows Report, the Commissioners have reintroduced the
    written licence in the form of a „see house agreement‟, and the standard form of that
    agreement has been settled.

7. To the extent that a house is held to accommodate a bishop, the Commissioners hold it as
   part of their corporate property. When letting the see houses to the bishops it was initially
   the Commissioners‟ practice to retain the grounds and gardens in their own possession, as
   well as the accommodation of staff employed by the bishop (e.g. gardeners), letting only the
   house, chapel and any outbuildings which he used, to the bishop. It follows that the areas
   retained by the Commissioners, if they added nothing to the effective use of the rest of the
   property by the bishop, could be sold, developed or rented out commercially.

Chapter 6       Financial considerations

1   In general terms the object of the review is to produce new principles and guidelines of
    suitability against which to assess all see houses. That is the first stage of the review. The
    second stage will be to assess each house when the bishop has reached the age of 62 years,
    and take whatever action is then deemed appropriate.

2   Unlike earlier reviews which were undertaken by the forerunners of the Bishoprics and
    Cathedrals Committee, this exercise is a joint undertaking by the Bishoprics and Cathedrals
    Committee and the Assets Committee. The intention is to bring the financial commitment
    which the current see house portfolio represents to greater prominence, in the light of the
    other options available for the use of the Commissioners‟ funds.

3   As mentioned earlier, see houses are held as corporate property and, as such, the houses
    directly advance one of the Commissioners‟ purposes (i.e. to provide support for diocesan
    bishops). The Commissioners are under no duty to generate a return from the property as
    long as it is, in their opinion, suitable for occupation. However, the Commissioners cannot
    commit their funds to see houses without recognition of their other legal commitments.
    These obligations are enshrined in section 8 of the National Institutions Measure 1998 which
    says that:

    “The Church Commissioners shall continue to manage their assets for the advancement of any
    purpose for which they held those assets immediately before the coming into force of this section, and
    in so doing they shall have particular regard to the requirements of section 67 of the Ecclesiastical
    Commissioners Act 1840 relating to the making of additional provision for the cure of souls in
    parishes where such assistance is most required.”

4   So, in distributing their available funds, the Commissioners must strike a balance between
    their different purposes and, to the extent that they have discretion, must pay particular
    regard to their section 67 responsibilities. This responsibility takes on greater significance
    when, as now, the Church‟s finances are under pressure. In practice, therefore, the
    Commissioners have to take an overall view of how much of their funds they commit to see
    houses, vis-à-vis their other commitments.

5   While it is the Commissioners‟ policy, on behalf of the Church, to provide suitable housing
    for each diocesan bishop to enable him to conduct his ministry effectively, section 8 of the
    National Institutions Measure 1998 raises fundamental issues about the level of financial

    support that should be committed to see houses, and the way in which the portfolio is
    managed. Both the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee and the Assets Committee are
    therefore agreed that investment and financial considerations must be taken into account in
    assessing the suitability of see houses, and that the following factors are relevant and should

Introduction of a management plan for each property

6   A „management plan‟ will be formulated for each house. This will be done in consultation with
    the bishop and his spouse and will be reviewed cyclically. The long-term future of the house
    will be determined by the Commissioners in discussion with the bishop when he reaches the
    age of 62, along with his spouse, the diocese, and the local agent. The bishop‟s views, although
    clearly important, will not be determinative and if it is decided that a replacement house is
    required, a review at the pre-retirement stage allows time for discussions with the diocese
    and interested parties to provide a suitable building before the appointment of a successor.
    (In such circumstances it is recommended that the Bishop and his spouse be invited to meet
    with the Board of Governors when they consider the matter.) It may be sensible to purchase
    a replacement house in advance of the bishop‟s retirement and let it out commercially until it
    is required.

7   The management plan also allows for the use of a tailor made planned property maintenance
    programme. This provides a mechanism to assess the expenditure required on each house
    and, by using similar methods and standards across the portfolio, allows for an even-handed
    comparison of costs as between houses. It is also intended that the houses should be brought
    up to an agreed standard – defined as meeting the requirements of the planned property
    maintenance programme. This standard will evolve over time to respond to changing needs
    and expectation - global warming for example - and will be reviewed every 5 years by the
    Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee.

8   The management plan will:

           a) ensure that the house and land meet an agreed standard as a family home and a
              base which is suitable for the bishop to carry out his ministry effectively;

           b) ensure that the house is fully equipped and functional, e.g. that furniture, electrical
              appliances, cookware and tableware are adequate;

           c) take account of environmental considerations across the portfolio, and monitor
              the need for improvement in this area;

           d) ensure that the house and land comply with Health and Safety legislation, and the
              provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, where possible;

           e) Review/monitor the quinquennial inspection of the house and the planned
              property maintenance and repair regime to ensure that the house in kept in good

           f) ensure that the house is cost-effective both in terms of maintenance and running

           g) keep the house and land under review to ensure that it offers the best option for
              the bishop and the Commissioners;

            h) consider the overall staffing support in see houses and the possible need for some
               administrative support, if required, to run an historic house and its land;

            i) take account of heirlooms and ensure that they are properly catalogued and cared

            j) introduce a low maintenance garden policy and reduce the size of gardens where
               possible; and

            k) assess the development and income potential within the house and land and
               formulate an action plan to maximise that potential.

Control of future costs/affordability

9   Affordability is a major consideration. Although maintenance and running costs vary from
    house to house, rigorous budgeting and projections of maintenance costs already complement
    the quinquennial inspection regime. These disciplines will be expanded to include setting up
    targets for maintenance and running costs - tailored to each house - within which expenditure
    should reasonably be contained. If the costs prove to be higher than the generality of other
    see houses, or of a similar house capable of doing the same job, or if the goals are regularly
    missed, serious consideration would have to be given to the house‟s replacement. This
    discipline will become even more relevant if, as recent press reports suggest, energy costs
    rise steeply over the next 20 years and/or a carbon tax is introduced.

Historic houses

10 The treatment of historic see houses is a major issue for the Commissioners and the wider
   Church. For the Commissioners the question must be, in the starkest terms, whether they
   can afford to keep such houses and, indeed, whether they should, given their legal
   responsibilities to all of their beneficiaries. It may be that the cost of maintaining these houses
   will prove to be prohibitive and that a programme of replacement is necessary, akin to that
   undertaken in the fifties when, amongst others, the Ely, Gloucester, Lichfield and Norwich
   houses were replaced.

11 In considering this subject the two Committees looked in particular at the case in which the
   bishop‟s accommodation formed only part of a larger complex, and also at houses where a
   mixed economy applied – where, in addition to renting out surplus accommodation,
   incremental income was raised through activities like conferences and functions.

12 Both Committees agreed that in the case of a complex of which the bishop‟s accommodation
   formed only a part, the criteria for retention should be not only the bishop‟s needs, but also
   the ability to finance and maintain the rest of the complex. If surplus accommodation could be
   used cost effectively in a way that did not adversely affect the bishop‟s ministry, that would be
   in accordance with the objectives of the management plan.

13 In the case of income generation both Committees were again clear, in principle, that the
   Church should concentrate on its core activities, and that involvement in entrepreneurial
   activity designed to retain a see house was not a core activity. Both Committees
   acknowledged that there would be cases which were not straightforward, and in those

    circumstances the use of the management plan would be the appropriate mechanism to gauge
    the strength of any entrepreneurial scheme. This would allow each case to be assessed on its
    merits and would also, importantly, provide the means to balance the efficacy of the house as
    a base for the bishop‟s ministry (or indeed the ministry of a future bishop) with the need to
    generate income.

14 The Committees also considered whether there was a case to dispose of a „suitable‟ historic
   property if it was to the advantage of the Church to do so. For example the opportunity
   might arise to sell a house to an individual or institution in whose care the future of the house
   was secure, while freeing the Church of a high maintenance liability. In those circumstances
   the Committees saw no fundamental obstacle to replacement so long as the bishop, the
   bishop‟s spouse, and the diocese had been fully consulted.

15 Finally the Committees considered the case where a diocese felt it important to retain a
   house which was either too expensive or unsuitable, and offered to contribute towards its
   maintenance. This assumed that the Commissioners would cap the amount of support they
   were prepared to provide, while the diocese met the shortfall. Both Committees accepted
   that some dioceses might feel strongly about their see houses but that the prime issue was
   one of suitability of the house for the bishop. A further complication was that not every
   diocese would either have the desire or the ability to meet such expenses. In addition long-
   term decisions would become even more complicated if the dioceses held a financial stake in
   the house.

Chapter 7      Results of consultations

1   Almost all the see houses were visited. The main points to emerge from both stages of the
    consultation are summarised below.

2   Office accommodation

       (a) Adequate provision should include: sufficient space for staff and proper kitchen and
           toilet facilities; a reasonable waiting area for guests; adequate storage for records; and
           a room for the gardener/driver if required.

       (b) There should be a proper public/private divide between office accommodation and the

3   Relocation of the Bishop to the Diocesan Office

       (a) Only three bishops favoured this proposal made in the Mellows Report.

       (b) This model did not reflect the way bishops operated. They do not work from “9 to
           5”, and need the flexibility of working from home to enable them to engage in family
           life and cope with the irregular hours of their work.

       (c) Bishops did not see themselves as the Chief Executive Officers of their dioceses and
           wished to distance themselves from the running of the Diocesan Office, which they
           saw as the proper province of the Diocesan Secretary.

      (d) Loss of privacy, especially when dealing with pastoral or disciplinary cases, was seen
          as a problem.

      (e) A favoured solution was the model employed at the see houses of Chelmsford,
          Leicester and Norwich, i.e. a detached office in the grounds of the see house, which
          offered both privacy and proximity to the see house.

4   Use of chapel

      (a) Chapels were generally used for daily prayer and licensings.

      (b) Chapels were also used for prayer in conjunction with staff and for other meetings –
          usually on a weekly basis.

       (c) Bishops living in a cathedral close often worshipped at the cathedral but still made
           regular use of their own chapels.

      (d) The overwhelming view was that there was a need for a chapel big enough to
          accommodate those attending a senior staff meeting.

5   Sleeping accommodation and overnight guests

       (a) A house should cope with the changing needs of a family, ranging from young children
           to young adults, or parents, living with the bishop. (Some bishops, nevertheless, had
           several bedrooms which were usually empty and used only by the family at Christmas
           or during holidays). On a practical point, the number of bedrooms in a house was
           often the outcome of a large ground floor footprint, so a high number of bedrooms –
           some of which might be attic rooms – should not necessarily be viewed as an obstacle
           to retaining what was otherwise a very suitable house.

       (b) The need for accommodating guests varied, depending upon the nature of the
           bishop‟s ministry, and his location.

       (c) Often two or more guests had to be put up at the same time, putting pressure on
           households where bedroom space was limited.

       (d) Unless unmanageable numbers of guests needed to be put up, family arrangements
           would generally be changed to accommodate guests.

       (e) Guests were usually put up in hotels or other accommodation only if they could not
           be accommodated in the house.

       (f) Many bishops and their wives accepted that family accommodation should be limited
           to four bedrooms, but recognised that only one additional guest bedroom might
           prove tight if the family was also in residence.

6   Hospitality

       (a) Bishops and their wives were almost unanimous in the view that hospitality was
           fundamental to a bishop‟s ministry. In many cases it dictated the way that the house
           was used, with staff and diocesan colleagues also making extensive use of the house.

        (b) Hospitality on a large scale was not frequent. This usually took the form of a garden
            party for clergy, retired clergy, other church members, or charitable and wider
            church purposes. These functions tended to be held at the see house if the bishop
            had the facilities to accommodate large numbers of guests but, in some instances, if
            these were lacking, diocesan or cathedral facilities were used.

7    Public/private divide

        (a) Nearly all the bishops, their wives, and staff were very aware of the need for a clear
            distinction here. This was a stressful and uncomfortable area that needed to be dealt

        (b) In addition to hospitality, houses were used regularly for staff and diocesan meetings.
            This increased the need to distinguish between the home and the public part of the
            house, particularly when children and other family members were resident.

        (c) It was important that private telephone lines and e-mail facilities were kept discrete,
            and that proper control of access was provided, e.g. that CCTV arrangements were
            in place for secretaries to monitor public doors where necessary.

        (d) Despite the emphasis on hospitality and the acceptance that the house would be used
            to accommodate office staff and host meetings, most bishops and their wives were
            grateful to have their homes to themselves after their staff had finished work.

8    Gardens

        (a) In general bishops and their wives were not keen to have extensive gardens.

        (b) However, those that did tended to make use of them, but most were amenable to the
            possibility of selling off surplus land for development purposes.

        (c) Although smaller gardens would be acceptable, these should be large enough, if
            possible, to be used for hospitality.

9    Security

        (a) City centre locations, especially those next to open spaces such as cathedral closes,
            often presented difficulties. Problems with rowdy youths and anti-social elements
            were not uncommon.

        (b) Some spouses felt vulnerable and alone while the bishop was away from home or
            busy elsewhere in the diocese, especially those in slightly isolated houses.

        (c) While bishops and their families were hospitable, a prudent balance still needed to be
            struck between being welcoming and remaining safe.

        (d) Office staff were also worried at the prospect of being left alone in the house and, in
            the case of houses in the city centre or the close where security problems existed,
            being inadequately protected.

10   Historic houses

       (a) There was some ambivalence here, but in the main bishops and their wives felt that
           the Church should not be holding on to historic property that was too expensive to

       (b) There was also an acknowledgement that the historic properties themselves were
           often not effective as see houses and that living in them, whilst a privilege, could be
           uncomfortable and trying.

       (c) Rather than judge such a house by strict financial criteria, some suggested that a
           better test was whether the property proved to be an effective house for a bishop to
           live in and from which to conduct his ministry.

       (d) Although the Church might not be able to afford to retain high cost historic houses
           some bishops felt that their retention might be possible if they could generate income
           or gain other support which made them financially viable propositions. Others
           questioned the wisdom of bishops and their spouses having to devote time to
           entrepreneurial activities which were not crucial to their ministry.

       (e) In those cases where the bishop‟s spouse managed a large historic house, especially
           one which was involved in income generation, the need for extra administrative
           support should be covered in the management plan.

11 Historic houses or houses set in cathedral closes

       (a) These were usually very well positioned and there was support for bishops to remain

       (b) Like cathedral churches, houses located in the close were a symbol of the Church‟s
           commitment to the inner city and city life.

       (c) Bishops were aware that the concentration of Church interests in a close – the Dean
           and Chapter, the Commissioners and often the Diocese – offered great opportunities
           to the Church to reorganise and rationalise its property holdings, including the see

12   Image

       (a) This could be a concern, principally the confusion in the public mind as to the
           ownership of the see house. The see house has sometimes been thought to be the
           private property of the bishop, and this could send out the wrong signals, especially if
           the property was a historic house.

       (b) Conversely, some people would also approve of, and support, the bishop‟s continued
           occupation of a historic see house.

       (c) Where a new house was appropriate bishops were clear that buying an „executive‟,
           property would send out the wrong signals. The purchase of an „established‟ house or
           building a new one would be the answer.

13 Management Plans

       (a) There was a general acknowledgement that the financial landscape had altered
           fundamentally, and that when dioceses were faced with real financial pressures it was
           important that proper stewardship was exercised over bishops‟ houses and gardens.

       (b) Most bishops welcomed the idea of a management plan for each property with clear
           cyclical maintenance programmes, and that they, their families and agent, should be
           involved with the Commissioners in developing these plans.

       (c) The prospect of discussions about the future of the house when the bishop reached
           the age of 62 was welcomed, but the need to keep in close contact with the bishop
           and his family was also clear. It was also accepted that the bishop‟s view would not be
           determinative and that the diocese (in the form of the Bishop‟s Council and the
           Diocesan Synod) should be consulted in this process given that any decisions taken
           would have a greater impact on the future, rather than the incumbent, bishop.

       (d) There was also general agreement that managing agents should be locally based.

       (e) Again there was general support for surplus gardens, space, and property t o be
           productively used, and sold or developed where it was to the Church‟s benefit.

Chapter 8     Lessons Learnt

1   In addition to the points which emerged from the consultation and visits some helpful lessons
    were learnt. It became clear that prescriptive guidelines would not be helpful. Several houses
    which met most of the present criteria fell short in certain respects – an overlarge garden
    perhaps, or too many bedrooms – and these variations should not be seen as an obstacle to
    retaining a house which otherwise appeared suitable. This approach would require a
    departure from the present regime which has firm guidelines agreed by the House of Bishops
    in 1975 and re-affirmed 20 years later. These are set out below:

          Dining room - to seat 12
          Drawing room - One of these rooms, or perhaps the two divided by a folding
           partition, should be large enough to allow a meeting of 30 people
          Family sitting room – Private. Not to be used for “official” (i.e. in connection with
           your office) purposes
          Bishop‟s study
          Room chapel (or oratory)
          Office for two secretaries - a chaplain‟s office is provided if required
          Kitchen - capable of catering for 10/12 guests
          6 Bedrooms - one for “official” guests
          Bathrooms, cloakroom(s), WCs, utility room, filing space, visitors‟ waiting area,
           various storage spaces (including chapel store) and other ancillary accommodation.
          Ideally the house would stand in limited grounds, laid out simply with lawns, trees and
           shrubs for easy maintenance, and probably having few flowerbeds. If a driver/gardener
           is to care for the garden there will probably be no kitchen garden since a part-time
           gardener is unlikely to have time for this.

2   A more flexible approach would dispense with the rather arbitrary limits on dining rooms,
    for example, which currently provide space only for twelve dinner guests. Instead the new

    guidelines would allow for reasonably sized rooms for parties and hospitality. This would
    provide the flexibility to accommodate the particular needs of a diocese, as they bear upon
    the use of the house, and also makes allowances for houses, which by virtue of their large
    ground floor footprint, are over provided with rooms above. All this should not detract from
    the aspiration to provide a house which is cost effective to run and maintain, which is easy to
    manage and which, ideally, should have no more than five bedrooms.

3   The advantages, therefore, of keeping such a house could outweigh the disadvantages, and so
    a set of general principles, rather than strict guidelines, would be a more appropriate
    measure of suitability. In the case of a new house, a set of basic criteria would be more
    appropriate, but these would need to be applied flexibly to take account of the particular
    needs of each diocese.

4   It was also clear that there was scope for making better use of the properties, particularly to
    generate income, and that introducing „management plans‟ for each house, as mentioned
    above, would be sensible. Apart from introducing sound investment principles to the proper
    management of the house, this would provide the mechanism to monitor and garner the
    development potential of the property. It would also provide a more welcoming and
    supportive means of involving the bishop and his family fully in looking after their home, while
    reinforcing the need to keep the running costs of the house under control.

5   The see houses were generally well maintained, but all should be brought up to, and kept at,
    an agreed standard (including disabled access). This was something that should be built into
    the management plan and dealt with in consultation with the bishop and his family. This
    would reduce the need for heavy programmes of ingoing works when a vacancy arose.
    Clearly a vacancy offered the opportunity to update facilities and undertake inconvenient
    work, but the aim should be to ensure that any new bishop and his family could depend on
    moving into a suitable house without undue delay. Specific ingoing works would only be
    required if the family had particular needs, e.g. to provide for a disabled child.

6   Given the difficulties associated with a move, often involving dislocation for an entire family,
    it was important that the housing arrangements were clear and that uncertainty about the
    need for ingoing works and improvements was minimised.

7   Some spouses had careers and it was clear that this would probably be even more the case
    in the future. While spouses would no doubt wish to support the bishop‟s ministry it would
    be sensible to plan on the basis that they would not be able to provide the kind of practical
    back up for bishops that used to be taken for granted. Accordingly future budgeting
    arrangements should make adequate provision for external catering and additional support
    where necessary. In order to establish the overall level of staffing support required, and what
    other measures would be needed to ease the running of the see house, a general
    consultation of the bishops, their spouses, and their staff, would have to be put in hand.

8   The house quite clearly affected the way in which the bishop conducted his ministry, and
    how he offered hospitality. The location of the house was a prime example of this. Most
    bishops made use of the facilities available; for example, large gardens would be used for
    garden parties. This did not mean that the bishop was wedded to the idea of giving garden
    parties but rather that it would be a waste not to use the garden. Accordingly, the general
    feeling was that large gardens and staterooms were not a standard requirement, and if large
    functions were to be held, diocesan, cathedral or other facilities might be used.

9   Environmental considerations need to be firmly factored into the management of the see
    houses for reasons of good stewardship and to ensure that the cost of running the house did

    not bear unreasonably on the bishop and his family. The current concern that global warming
    was a real threat meant that having to contend with environmental change was unavoidable,
    and made it important that the Church responded responsibly and positively to the problem.
    This required response could be achieved by building environmental targets into the
    management plans. Where a new see house was to be built, it should be designed with a
    view to low energy consumption, energy recovery and waste recycling, and constructed to
    cause the minimum of damage to the environment.

Chapter 9     The approach employed in this review – a summary

1   The starting point of this Review is the consideration that the see houses are owned by the
    Commissioners who house diocesan bishops as part of their charitable purposes. The
    Commissioners also have the task of assessing the suitability of a see house, which is now
    broadly defined as a house which is both a home and a suitable base from which a bishop can
    conduct his ministry effectively.

2   The definition of suitability has changed over the years, and will continue to do so, reflecting
    changes both in society and in the nature of episcopal ministry. This is nothing new. The
    history of the see house is one of evolution, and the consistent theme which runs
    throughout is that the house is „fit for purpose‟. The historic houses that we hold have been
    altered by successive bishops to meet the needs of the day. Even some „relatively‟ recent
    houses, Norwich and Gloucester, for example, which were built to replace unsuitable houses
    inherited when the Commissioners took ownership of the see houses, were designed to
    include servants‟ quarters.

3   The line adopted in this Review is that the suitability of the house is reassessed during each
    episcopate, and that a management plan is put in place to ensure that the house is properly
    maintained and kept up to standard. While the „standard‟ is not defined, the intention is that
    the house should meet the requirements of a tailor made planned preventative maintenance
    programme. This standard will evolve to meet changing needs. The management plan also
    reflects affordability. It is important that the house is cost-effective to run, and that the cost
    of running the house does not bear unreasonably on the bishop.

4   The question of affordability needs careful consideration. It is important to remember that
    much of the Commissioners‟ wealth derives from episcopal estates, and the perception
    remains that the Commissioners have a special duty to the see houses. The reality is that the
    Commissioners‟ funds are limited. Clergy pensions are a first call on them, with bishops‟
    housing one among many other calls upon their distributions. Good stewardship and limited
    resources mean that it is sensible for the Commissioners to expect see houses to be run
    cost-effectively and to give serious consideration to the replacement of a house which is
    demonstrably very expensive to maintain. The dioceses, which have had to apply a similar
    discipline to their parsonage house portfolios, share this expectation.

5   However, this Review makes no recommendation that a house should be sold because it is
    too expensive to maintain. That is an issue for the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee,
    the Assets Committee and the Board of Governors. What the Review does do is to provide
    a mechanism – the management plan – which allows the house to be properly managed, and
    allows for an even-handed comparison of costs as between houses. The Review does
    recommend that each house is assessed on its merits and that some houses might have
    disadvantages which are outweighed by their advantages. This means that the disadvantages

    can at least be quantified, and that in deciding to retain a house the Commissioners are
    aware of the cost of retention over and above the generality of other houses. So, any
    decisions taken by the Commissioners will not be wholly financially driven, but will be
    properly informed financially.

6   The management plan also provides the vehicle to assess the development and income
    potential within the house and land, and allows for that potential to be developed to the full.
    This is particularly useful in the case of a see house which forms part of a larger complex
    such as Wells, which is involved in income generation. There is some ambivalence on this
    issue: both the Assets Committee and the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee were clear,
    in principle, that the Church should concentrate on its core business rather than involve
    itself in entrepreneurial activities designed to retain such properties; however they also the
    accepted that there would be cases which were not straightforward, and in those
    circumstances the use of the management plan would be the appropriate mechanism to
    gauge the strength of any entrepreneurial scheme. This would allow each case to be assessed
    on its merits, and would also, importantly, provide the means to balance the efficacy of the
    house as a base for the bishop‟s ministry (or indeed the ministry of a future bishop) with the
    need to generate income.

7   The Commissioners have a record of encouraging income generation, and this was the aim in
    setting up Trusts at some historic houses. However, the precise thinking underlying this
    approach is unclear. Is it to free the bishop and his spouse from the burden of running such a
    house, to generate income to offset the Commissioners‟ maintenance liability, to provide
    income to further the bishop‟s ministry, or simply to make the house more available to the
    public? Based on the principles set out in this Review the first call on any income should be
    to offset the Commissioners‟ maintenance liabilities and any surplus profits held in a sinking
    fund, as the relevant criterion here is their obligation to house the bishop. Mellows Two
    takes a similar line, requiring Lambeth and Bishopthorpe to generate income to offset their
    maintenance costs.

8   A major issue which needs to be addressed when setting up a Trust is the long-term
    consequences for the bishop and his successors. The Commissioners must think carefully
    about this issue before agreeing to set up a Trust. The prime concern of the Bishoprics and
    Cathedrals Committee is the suitability of the house both as a home and as a base for the
    bishop‟s ministry. A problem here is that what is acceptable to one bishop may not be
    acceptable to a successor. So, while one bishop might see great benefit in living in a complex
    which is open to the public, which could be made available for weddings, conferences and
    functions, and view this as a resource for mission, another might find that these activities
    intrude on his home life and impair his ministry. This obviously makes long term planning a
    problem both for the Commissioners and for the Trustees. Clearly decisions about the
    suitability of any one house must not depend entirely on the views of the incumbent bishop,
    and the Commissioners are clear that his views are not determinative and that they must
    take account of wider considerations. However, the needs of the bishop and his family must
    be a principal criterion and the Commissioners would be hard pressed to justify the
    retention of a house which did not meet those needs.

9   It is important to distinguish between the issues involved in replacing a see house, and its
    disposal. For the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee the issue must be whether the house
    is suitable, not whether it is retained by the Commissioners. The latter question is a matter
    for the Assets Committee and the Board of Governors to consider, as any „surplus‟
    unsuitable house passes into the Commissioners‟ investment portfolio. What will be clear at
    that stage is that the house will no longer be the residence of the bishop, and no matter what

    the historic associations that building might have with the Church, its stature will be
    diminished when the bishop has left and it is no longer a focus of Church life.

Chapter 10 Historic houses – some questions to be considered

1   Chapter three closes with a series of questions related to historic houses. Further questions
    have arisen in the development of this report, and it may be helpful to raise these points so
    that they inform the future discussion on historic see houses.

2   While many people may agree that historic see houses no longer have a place in the modern
    Church, others would strongly argue for their retention. Indeed, in its submission during the
    consultation process, the Group representing bishops‟ wives who live in historic houses
    pointed out that these houses have a dimension that is both spiritual and historic, and these
    aspects of the house are often reflected in the bishop‟s ministry. The suggestion is that this
    theology of place, or propinquity, is a factor which is taken into consideration when deciding
    whether the house is retained by the Church.

3   How should we deal with this? At present our approach to see houses rests very much on
    the practicalities of suitability – whether the house makes a good family home, and an
    effective base for the bishop‟s ministry. So far propinquity has not featured as an aspect of
    the suitability criteria and if it is to be so considered the Commissioners must discuss the
    matter and come to a view. The evolutionary approach employed hitherto has of course
    meant that historic and important houses have passed out of Church ownership, and
    therefore to retain similar houses would require a sound justification.

4   The consequences of this approach would also need to be clearly understood. To retain
    historic houses on such grounds would mean that the Church held them not only for
    practical purposes, but also for their spiritual importance. This sets them on a par with
    significant churches or cathedrals. It would mean that the Church was committing itself to
    these buildings for as long as it was able to hold them.

5   How could this be reconciled to the view that it is the occupation of the house by the bishop
    himself which is the point of significance? If the Church felt that the house should be kept, it
    would also mean that the Church was expecting the bishop to remain in residence, so
    subsuming the needs of the bishop to the desire to retain the house.

6   What would be the financial consequences? The Commissioners would need to bear in mind
    that these buildings will remain expensive to maintain over time. It would also be necessary
    to establish which buildings were to be designated in this way, and establish whether
    retention on these grounds comes within the Commissioners‟ statutory powers.

7   Another approach might be to require the Commissioners, in the case of such houses, to
    explore all available routes for their retention. This would mean that the Church was
    committed to developing the full potential of the house, encouraging diocesan and local
    participation in order to generate income to offset the cost of retention. This approach
    would also commend itself to the general public who would expect the Church, in a
    corporate sense, to look after its own ecclesiastical heritage. It would also pave the way to
    forging partnerships, with English Heritage and Local Authorities for example, which might
    provide a suitable vehicle to safeguard the future of the building for the Church if the
    Commissioners were unable to fund the house indefinitely. It is now the case that English
    Heritage is less likely to preserve a house and more likely to support a building in use.

8   One difficulty associated with this approach is that it could involve a loss of control over the
    way in which the building was managed, with funding partners seeking concessions to
    promote their own interests. This would be at a personal cost to the bishop and his family,
    and might increase the pressure to declare the house unsuitable. The experience of bishops
    at certain houses has shown that public intrusion can be a real problem in their use of the
    house. However, if following this route a sale still appeared inevitable public opposition
    would be reduced if it had been demonstrated that all sensible options had already been
    investigated. Should the house be declared unsuitable before any arrangements had been
    agreed for its adoption by an acceptable consortium of interests, a „suitable‟ sale might need
    to be considered instead.

9   A variation on this approach might involve the sale of the freehold to a Trustee body, while
    the Commissioners retained a leasehold interest in the bishop‟s accommodation for which
    they would be charged a rent. This would also allow local and national supporters of the
    house the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the building and to its future
    maintenance. However, this approach does have two drawbacks. The first is whether the
    Trust had sufficient resources to keep and maintain the building, and the second is whether
    future bishops would be prepared to stay there.

10 Passing ownership of a see house into the care of a Trust does itself pose problems. The first
   is that the Commissioners are unable to make a capital gift to a Trustee body. Even if this
   was possible an attendant problem is that mainstream conservation bodies, the National
   Trust for example, would not be prepared to take on a historic building without a dowry.
   Some might argue that the Commissioners accepted the see houses with an endowment, and
   if they wished to pass them on to a Trust, they should do so together with the endowment
   that they originally received to maintain the house. While a definitive Legal Opinion will be
   required here, the conventional interpretation of the Episcopal Endowments and Stipends
   Measure 1943 does not support this view. The conventional wisdom is that under the terms
   of this Measure the Commissioners‟ primary obligation is to the bishop and his housing
   needs. The Measure requires the Commissioners to consult English Heritage about
   conditions affecting any disposal of a historic see house, but otherwise imposes no financial
   obligation on the Commissioners to safeguard the future of such houses. It is worth bearing
   in mind that this is not a new issue; a similar approach was recommended by Mellows One
   and firmly rejected by the Board of Governors. The Board took the view that the
   Commissioners‟ statutory powers should not be altered, and that their principal duty was to
   generate the best return on their assets in the interest of present and future beneficiaries.

11 The future treatment of historic see houses has been with us for a considerable period and
   will no doubt remain with us for years to come. It is hoped, however, that the ideas set out
   in this chapter will contribute to the continuing debate.

Chapter 11 Recommended Principles and Guidelines

1   It is recommended that the following principles and guidelines of suitability be adopted,
    together with the separate related recommendations. For clarity the guidelines are divided
    into two categories: the first apply to houses which are already in use; the second, in the
    form of a specification, relates to houses which are either bought or built in the future.

For houses already in use

2   A set of general principles against which to judge current houses, allied to a „management
    plan‟ for each house. These will be grafted on to the basic definition that the house must be
    both a family home and a base from which the bishop could undertake his ministry
    effectively. The draft general principles are as follows:

       (a) Each house to have a „management plan‟, as set out earlier under Chapter 6,
           paragraphs 6 and 7. The Commissioners will prepare this in liaison with the bishop,
           his spouse, and the local agent, and the plan will be reviewed cyclically.

       (b) Once the bishop reaches the age of 62 years, discussions to determine the future of
           the house, e.g. need to sell or replace the house, bring it up to standard etc will be
           undertaken with him, his spouse, and the diocese. The bishop‟s views, although
           important, will not be determinative, and if it is decided that a replacement house is
           required, a review at the pre-retirement stage allows time for discussions with the
           diocese and interested parties to provide a suitable building before the appointment
           of a successor. In the case of a house which has not been reviewed for whatever
           reason (the appointment of the bishop to another diocese for example), a review
           should be undertaken within 10 years of the last review.

       (c) These guidelines should not be regarded as prescriptive and certain houses might not
           meet the criteria in certain respects, but their advantages would nonetheless
           outweigh their disadvantages.

       (d) Each house should have a proper private/public divide.

       (e) Each house should have adequate space for hospitality/meetings.

       (f) Adequate study/office space should be provided for the bishop and his staff, together
           with adequate waiting areas, storage space, kitchen and cloakroom facilities.

       (g) Proper security arrangements should be in place.

       (h) Disabled access should be provided where possible.

       (i) Staff housing should not be provided and, in those properties which contained integral
           or staff flats, a commercial return should be sought where possible.

       (j) The particular needs of the diocese, as they bear upon the use of the see house,
           should be taken account of where possible.

The provision of a replacement property or the building of a new house.

3   A set of basic criteria against which any replacement property could be assessed would be
    roughly in line with the existing guidelines for see house accommodation, but the aim would
    be to produce a more modest and cost-effective house. Each new house will also be subject
    to the discipline of a management plan.

    (a) Reception rooms
            Family room (private and discrete from the rest of the house).

         Kitchen (private, but properly equipped to cater for reasonably sized dinner
          parties and buffets).
         Utility room.
         Drawing room.
         Dining room – capable of accommodating a reasonably sized dinner party.
         (Reception rooms to have appropriate ceiling heights with the dining and drawing
          rooms to be interconnected to allow for large meetings and buffets.)
         Cloakrooms for guests.
         Study.

(b) Annex containing
       Bishop‟s Office
       Offices for two secretaries.
       Chapel.
       Office for chaplain.
       Cloakroom for guest/staff.
       Adequate waiting area.
       Adequate storage space.
       Kitchen/galley for staff.
       Meeting Room
      (N.B. The Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee agreed this last item as a revision to
      these criteria at their meeting of 12 September 2006. Bishops need to have an
      adequate room for their own meetings and the Committee confirmed that it would
      provide a separate meeting room if neither the study nor one of the main reception
      rooms (usually the dining room as a large table was often needed for meetings) was
      suitable, because they were either too small or in a location that intrudes on the
      family‟s privacy.)

 (c) Sleeping accommodation
        4 family bedrooms (1 with en suite bathroom/toilet).
        1 guest room (with en suite bathroom/toilet).
        1 bathroom and 1 toilet.
        Space for storage.
       N.B. The upper floors of a house are often the product of the ground floor layout, and
       a large number of bedrooms should not be considered an obstacle to the purchase of
       an otherwise suitable replacement.

(d) Garden/parking
        Garden adequate for a family and modest official use.
        Garage.
        Car parking for guests/staff.

(e) Design features
       Houses should be energy efficient and take account of environmental
       A proper division is required between the public and private areas.
       Security considerations should be incorporated into the design.
       Disabled access and facilities should be provided where a house was bought, or be
          integrated into the design of a purpose-built house.

             Houses should be manageable and easy to maintain.
             Each house should be designed to take account of the particular needs of the
              diocese, as they impact upon the use of the see house.
             Ground floor rooms should have high ceilings to avoid the sense of constraint

4   If, following a review, significant change is recommended, such as the replacement of the see
    house, the bishop and the bishop‟s spouse should be invited to meet with the Board of

5   That the necessary resources required to implement these recommendations should be
    made available.

6   It is recognised that, increasingly, bishops‟ wives are pursuing their own careers and are not
    available to provide the kind of practical back-up for bishops that used to be taken for
    granted. Accordingly, appropriate arrangements would be made to provide the right level of
    support for each bishop. This would be carried out on an individual basis in consultation with
    each bishop and spouse.

              On behalf of the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee

                     Gill Brentford (Third Church Estates Commissioner)

              On behalf of the Assets Committee

                     Andreas Whittam Smith (First Church Estates Commissioner)

This report was commissioned by the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee and the Assets
Committee of the Church Commissioners. It was formally approved by the Board of Governors
of the Church Commissioners in April 2005, and approved by the House of Bishops in the May of
that year.

Stage one of the consultations was undertaken by Andrew Brown (Chief Surveyor and from June
2003 Secretary to the Church Commissioners) and Jerry Elloy, the Reporting Officer, who wrote
this report. They would both wish to extend their thanks to those who contributed to the report
and in particular to the Bishops, and their wives, who welcomed them into their homes, and who
were so generous with their time and hospitality, and to the bishops‟ staff who made a major
contribution to the report.

                                                                                       Jerry Elloy

                                                                                        May 2005

NB. The Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee made a minor amendment to the criteria for a
replacement see house at its meeting on12 September 2006. The amendment is at Chapter 11,
paragraph 3(b)


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