RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
LevelFonds
Order NoBell
Extent374 volumes
TitleBell, George Kennedy Allen (1883-1958)
Date1896-1967
DescriptionThe papers of George Bell extend over his entire career. Although some of the papers relate specifically to the administration of the diocese of Chichester, the majority of the collection encompasses a much broader arena: the Church of England in general; the Anglican Communion; International Affairs. The papers illustrate, for instance, his contribution to religious drama by his sponsorship of the Canterbury Festival, his involvement in the ecumenical movement with the formation of the World Council of Churches, his involvement with the German Church struggle during the 1930s and friendship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his championing of the needs of refugees with the setting up of the Church of England Committee for Non-Aryan Christians, and his condemnation of carpet-bombing of German cities during the War.

Volumes 1-64 are known as the German Church Papers although their coverage extends beyond the political and religious crises affecting Germany from the 1930s onwards, and includes the early conferences of the Universal Christian Council for Life and Work, beginning with the first held in Stockholm in 1925, extending also to post-war Germany.

Of the remaining volumes, 65-183 cover discrete subjects, those from 65 to 117 relating to international and ecumenical affairs, and the remaining volumes 118-83 concerning the internal affairs of the Church of England or more broadly the Anglican Communion. The subjects are usually self-explanatory.

The remaining papers comprised numerous small files of correspondence with a variety of individuals, extending over thirty years. These have been sorted and bound up. Early papers comprise personal and family correspondence. The first seven volumes (184-90) span his education at Westminster and Oxford, his curacy at Leeds, his return to Oxford as tutor and fellow at Christ Church, and his appointment and tenure as chaplain to Archbishop Davidson (1914-1924). Subsequent volumes date mainly from Bell's appointment as dean of Canterbury (specifically volumes 191-202, beginning with his appointment in 1924), also covering his episcopacy at Chichester (203-18, beginning with his appointment and consecration in 1929), until his death in 1958.

Volumes 219-38 relate to his publications: the majority of these concern his work on his monumental biography of Archbishop Randall Davidson published in 1935 (221-37). The sequence includes original correspondence with the Archbishop submitted in answer to Bell's request for letters and information on Davidson. Also included are are draft chapters of his biography some of which include royal annotations and amendments.

The remainder of the Bell Papers comprise diaries and journals, 1914-58, and notebooks, especially of overseas visits and conferences (239-306), sermons, 1909-1958 (342-55), and newspaper cuttings, 1923-58 (356-66). There follow two volumes of correspondence of Henrietta Bell following her husband's death, and the publication of his biography by R.D.C Jasper in 1967 (367-68).
AppraisalWith the exception of some appraisal of letters of congratulations, all papers tranferred by Henrietta Bell and the family have been preserved
ArrangementOriginal file numbers of the 'German Church Papers' (numbered 1-59) have been adopted for the volume order of this section of the papers as researchers working on these papers before their transfer to Lambeth Palace Library quoted file numbers. In some instances the contents of individual binders of the German Church Papers were too large to be bound in one volume and the papers had to be bound in two parts. The rest of the papers have been arranged and bound as: large subject files on International and ecumenical affairs (65-117); internal affairs of the Church of England or Anglican Communion (118-83); smaller miscellaneous files of correspondence arranged in a roughly chronological seqence - school and college and early career at Oxford, Leeds and Lambeth Palace (184-90); dean of Canterbury, 1924-29 (191-202); bishop of Chichester, 1929-1958 (203-18); publications (219-38); diaries and note books (239-306), sermons (342-55), newspapers cuttings (356-66), death and biography (367-8). Subseries include volumes on the the Church and the Artist, 1929-1958 (150-2), including Bishop Bell's patronage of artists, especially during the war, and on Religious Drama, 1925-1929 (153-4), including the commissioning and performance of John Masefield, 'The Coming of Christ', in Canterbury cathedral in 1928, for which the music was composed by Gustav Holst and was conducted by Adrian Boult, kt. (1937), and 1930-1960 (155-7).
CopyrightCopyright of Bishop Bell owned by Lambeth Palace Library
FindingAidsCatalogue records based on:
List of volumes of the papers of George Kennedy Allen Bell, Bishop of Chichester, with description of the German Church Papers, vols. 1-64 (typescript).
Draft catalogue of vols. 61-183 (typescript).
Melanie Barber, 'Papers of George Kennedy Allen Bell, Bishop of Chichester, 1883-1958, in Lambeth Palace Library: Catalogue and Index, volumes 184-368' (typescript, 1996). The electronic catalogue combines the descriptions of the contents of the volumes 184-368 (which should serve to alert the reader to the subject matter), and the index of correspondents and authors. This section was catalogued and indexed in detail since the contents of the miscellaneous volumes (184-368) are less easy for readers to chart than the larger subject volumes. The principal subject series covered by volumes 65-183 are described in less detail.
For the section of papers not covered by the more detailed index, see also an earlier index at Bell 374.
PhysicalDescriptionApart from correspondence, the collection includes diaries, sermons, newspaper cuttings, and a few photographs.
CreatorNameBell; George Kennedy Allen (1883-1958); Bishop of Chichester
AdminHistoryGeorge Kennedy Allen Bell, son of the Rev. James Allen Bell (canon of Norwich 1918), was born in 1883 and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was ordained to the title of the curacy of Leeds in 1907, and returned to Oxford as clerical student and tutor at Christ Church in 1910. He was appointed chaplain to Randall Davidson, archbishop of Canterbury, on the outbreak of the first World War in 1914, and continued as chaplain until appointed Dean of Canterbury in 1924. In 1929 he was consecrated bishop of Chichester, a position he held until his resignation towards the end of 1957. He died in October 1958. George Bell was one of the foremost churchmen of his generation; his breadth of vision was recognised in both ecumenical and international circles.

As a bishop, he combined a deep concern for order and authority with a forward-looking policy which combined innovative methods, such as the appointment of a liturgical missioner, a bishop's chaplain for schools, and a director of religious drama. He was involved with various negotiations over Church-State relations. He was a member (1930-5) of the Archbishop's Commission on Church and State appointed by Arcbishop Lang in 1930; he was convenor of the subsequent Joint Committee of Convocation of Canterbury on church and state (1933-8) and a member of the Round Table Conference summoned by Archbishop Lang in 1938. Both endeavoured to take forward discussions over liturgical reform and lawful authority following the Commission's report in 1935.

He was episcopal secretary of the 1930 Lambeth Conference, and chairman of the 1948 Conference Committee on church unity.

His introduction to the ecumenical movement began when he was chaplain to Archbishop Davidson; at Lambeth he met Church leaders from overseas, and was sent as one of the Anglican delegation to the first post-war meeting of the International Committee of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches in 1919. He was junior secretary of the 1920 Lambeth Conference and its conclusion in issuing the seminal 'Appeal to all Christian people' owed much to his initiative. An immediate outcome was a series of joint conferences between the Church of England and the Free Churches, with Bell acting as the Anglican secretary. In 1924, he edited the first of his series of 'Documents on Christian Unity', a source on the development of ecumenical activity in its early years. His championing of Christian unity inspired his support for the setting up of the Church of England Council on Foreign Relations, whose chairman he was from 1945 to 1958. He supported the scheme for the Church of South India, and was joint chairman of the Anglican-Methodist conversations which started in 1956.

He was intimately involved in the Life and Work movement, from his attendance at the first Conference at Stockholm in 1925, and assistance in drafting the Message of that first conference which affirmed the duty of all Churches to apply the Christian Gospel to every sphere of human life. As chairman of the Council from 1932-34, and chairman of its administrative committee from 1934-38, he imbued the movement with a sharper focus and policy. The Life and Work movement gave him a channel through which to express his strong disapproval of the political and religious developments in Germany with the rise of Hitler and the spread of Nazism. He was a firm supporter of the Confessional Church in its struggle for freedom, and befriended the young German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his resistance to the National Socialist state. He made strong representation against the enormities of the Nazi regime, and appealed on behalf of the refugees. He set up the Church of England Committee for Non-Aryan Christians (1937) and assisted with the setting up of the Christian Council for Refugees from Germany. He undertook seven visits to Germany between 1928 and 1939, and a further five after the War. He refused to identify the German race as a whole with National Socialism, and made a courageous stand against the indiscriminate bombing of German cities during the war. His opposition to the prevailing war ethos brought upon him much opprobium. He was eager to promote friendship between the two countries, and established the German Christian Fellowship.

His further ecumenical involvements included first chairman of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, 1947-54, and on relinquishing that office in he was made honorary president (1954-8); his contribution was essential to the success of the first meeting of the World Council of Churches in 1948.

Bell was first able to give public expression to his interest in religious drama when he was dean of Canterbury. He sponsored the production of John Masefield's 'The Coming of Christ' in 1928, the first dramatic performance in an English cathedral since the Middle Ages. The following year he founded the Canterbury Festival of Music and Drama. On appointment as bishop, his desire to foster a closer liaison between the Church and the arts prompted his appointment of a diocesan Director of Religious Drama (1930), the first of its kind in England. He welcomed artists, poets and dramatists to his palace for weekend gatherings; T.S. Eliot's 'Murder in the cathedral' was written at his suggestion (for the 1935 Canterbury Festival, for which he was still a trustee), and was first performed at Canterbury in 1935. Bell's sponsorship of religious drama extended to the international field. In 1955, he presided over the first International Conference on Religious Drama held at Lincoln College, Oxford.

His publications include sermons, addresses, visitation charges, the biography of Randall Davidson (1935), Christianity and world order (1940). He edited 5 volumes of Documents on Christian unity (1924-1958), the Stockholm Conference, 1925: the official report of the Universal Christian Conference on Life and Work, 1925, and co-edited Mysterium Christi: Christological studies by British and German theologians, 1930, and The Church of England and the Free Churches: proceedings of the joint conferences held at Lambeth Palace, 1921-25, 1925.

Bell was passionately concerned for the individual from an early age. His compassionate friendship with his Oxford students who enlisted in the First World War is evidenced by a profoundly moving series of letters to them and their families during the war. He took a keen interest in social affairs, and enjoyed a life-long friendship with Albert Mansbridge, founder of the Workers' Educational Association, and R.L. Tawney. He supported the trade-union movement and was a member of Archbishop Temple's Committee on Unemployment whose report 'Men without work' was published in 1938.

His papers constitute one of the richest sources for the history of the first half of the 20th century century, both religious and secular. His correspondents numbered the leading churchmen, politicians, artists, and dramatists of the age.
CustodialHistoryThe extensive collection of papers of George Bell was mainly given to Lambeth Palace Library by Henrietta Bell, the Bishop's widow, over a period of years in the 1960s. By that date, some of the papers had been sorted and placed in large file binders and allocated subject titles. Much of the original order of the other subject files had been lost before the transfer of the collection to the Library as a result of their use by friends and scholars, including two biographers. Occasionally letters quoted in Dean Jasper's biography have not been traced.

Some of the Bishop's papers loaned by his widow to Canon Jasper for his biography were added to the collection in the 1970s.

The entire collection has been sorted and bound and is now numbered 1 to 368 (plus additional material to volume 374).
CopiesVols. 5, 6, 47
Microfilm: Lambeth Palace Library Box 650
RelatedMaterialLambeth Palace Library: Archbishops' Papers (chiefly Davidson, but also Lang, Temple and Fisher); Manuscript series (Headlam Papers); MSS. 3060-3062 (Archbishop's Commission on Church & State); MSS. 3287-3319 (Collins papers); MSS. 3589-3593 (Lancelot Mason papers); Bishops' Meetings; Lambeth Conference.

Bell's papers on the Community of Holy Cross placed in the manuscripts sequence (MSS. 3067-71) in 1979.

Miscellaneous items relating to Bell in MS 5046.

See also West Sussex Record Office (diocesan records). Manchester University: John Rylands Library. Bodleian Library. Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Southampton University Library. King's School Canterbury. British Library. Cambridge University: King's College. Chichester Cathedral.
PublnNoteM. Barber (ed.), "Randall Davidson: a partial retrospective", in 'From Cranmer to Davidson: a Church of England Miscellany', Church of England Record Society vol. 7 (1999). Uses Davidson Papers passim and some Bell Papers.
E. Bethge & R.C.D. Jasper (eds.), "An der Schwelle zum Gespaltenen europa…1939-1951" 1974 (correspondence between Bell & Gerhard Libholz).
B. S. Bennett, "The Church of England and the law of divorce since 1857: marriage, discipline, ecclesiastical law and the Establishment", 'Journal of Ecclesiastical History', vol. 45, no. 4 (October 1994).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Werke', Band 16, 'Konspiration und Haft, 1940-1945', ed. J. Glenthoj, etc. (1996).
A. Chandler (ed.), 'Brethren in adversity: Bishop George Bell, the Church of England and the Crisis of German Protestantism, 1933-1939', Church of England Record Society vol. 4 (1997) (a collection of documents from the Bell and Lang Papers).
A. Chandler, 'George Bell, Bishop of Chichester' (Grand Rapids, 2016) [Lambeth Palace Library H5199.B3C4 2016]
A. Chandler, "The death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer", 'Journal of Ecclesiastical History' (July 1994)
A. Chandler, "A question of fundamental principles: the Church of England and the Jews of Germany, 1933-1937", Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 38 (1993) pp. 221-261 [Lambeth Palace Library D856.C4, H5102.C4]
S. Cohen, 'Rescue the perishing: Eleanor Rathbone and the refuges' (Vallentine Mitchell, 2010) [Lambeth Palace Library D856.R2C6]
Giles Evans, 'Wishwood revisited: a new interpretation of T. S. Eliot's The family reunion' (1991) [Lambeth Palace Library SR6009.L5]
Hughes, Michael, 'Archbishop Randall Davidson' (Abingdon, 2018) [Lambeth Palace Library H5198.D2H8]
T. Grass, 'Methodist ministry to wartime internees on the Isle of Man', pp. 166-188, "Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society", Vol. 60 part 4, February 2016 [Lambeth Palace Library H8201.(W3)]
D. Hampson "The British response to the German church struggle 1933-1939", DPhil dissertation, University of Oxford, 1973.
Albert E. J. Hollaender, "Offiziere und Prälaten, zur Fuldaer Bischofskonferenz, August 1945", 'Sonderdruck aus Mitteilungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs, 25 Band (Wien: Ferdinand Berger, 1972) [Lambeth Palace Library D856.H6]. Includes quotations from the Bell Papers.
Nicholas Hope, "The George Bell Papers (Lambeth Palace Library) and the Nathaniel Micklem Collection (Bodleian Library) on the German Church Conflict 1933-1939", 'Internationale Beziehungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert', ed. W. Elz & S. Neitzel (2004) [Lambeth Palace Library D856.B3]
A. Jarlert, 'The Oxford Group, group revivalism, and the Churches in Northern Europe 1930-1945' (1995)
R.C.D. Jasper "George Bell, Bishop of Chichester", London OUP 1967.
T. Lawson, 'The Church of England and the Holocaust: Christianity, memory and Nazism', 2006 [Lambeth Palace Library H5102.L2]
H. Ludwig, E. Rohm, and J. Thierfedler, 'Evangelisch getauft als Juden verfolgt Theologen judischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus' (Calwer, 2014) [Lambeth Palace Library D856.L8]
John G. Maiden, 'National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-1928' [Lambeth Palace Library H5145.A7M2]
S. Parker and T. Lawson ed. 'God and war: the Church Of England and armed conflict in the twentieth century' (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) [Lambeth Palace Library H5157.G6]
Peter Raina, "George Bell: The greatest churchman - a portrait in letters", 2006. [Lambeth Palace Library H5199.B3R2]
E.H. Robertson "Unshakeable friend: George Bell and the German churches" London CCBI 1995.
E.G.Rupp "'I seek my brethren' Bishop George Bell and the German churches…" London, Epworth Press 1975.
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer werke" includes editions of correspondence.
L. Strübel, 'Continuity and Change in City Protestantism: the Lutheran Church in Hamburg, 1945-1965', 2005 [Lambeth Palace Library H8022.H2]

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Related name records
CodeNameDates
135Bell; George Kennedy Allen (1883-1958); Bishop of Chichester1883-1958
136Diocese of Chichester
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