Bell, G. K. A. (George Kennedy Allen), 1883-1958

Alternative names
Birth 1883-02-04
Death 1958-10-03

Biographical notes:

Epithet: Bishop of Chichester

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000265.0x000374

George Kennedy Allen Bell was the son of the Rev. James Allen Bell (canon of Norwich 1918), born in 1883 and educated at Winchester 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. His ecumenical involvements included first chairman of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, 1947-54; and hon. president of the WCC, 1954-8; chairman of the Church of England Council on Foreign Relations, 1945-58; joint chairman of the Anglican-Methodist Conversations, 1956. He was junior secretary of the 1920 Lambeth Conference, and episcopal secretary of the 1930 Conference, and chariman of the 1948 Conference Committee on church unity. He was a member of the Archbishop's Commission on Church and State, 1930-5, and convener of the Convocation Committee on Church and State, 1933-8. He inaugurated the performances of religious drama in Canterbury Cathedral, with John Masefield's The Coming of Christ in 1928, and the following year he founded the Canterbury Festival of Music and Drama. He invited T.S. Eliot to write Muder in the Cathedral for the 1935 Canterbury Festival (for which he was still a trustee). He was the first bishop to appoint a diocesan Director of Religious Drama in 1930. He set up the Church of England Committee for non-Aryan Christians in 1937. 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 Stockhold 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.

From the guide to the Papers of George Allen Kennedy Bell, 1896-1967, (Lambeth Palace Library)


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  • Church history 20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Drama Religious aspects
  • Art and religion
  • Refugees
  • Ecumenical movement


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  • High Bradfield, West Riding of Yorkshire, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Hooton Roberts, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Monk's House, Sussex; home of Leonard and Virginia Woolf (as recorded)