Chichester and the Archbishops of Canterbury

by Peter on March 22, 2013

Archbishop Welby visits Chichester

On March 19th , Chichester welcomed the new Archbishop-elect The Most Reverend Justin Welby when he visited the city on the final leg of his ‘Journey for Prayer’ prior to his enthronement on yesterday (21st March). He walked down West St. from the Market Cross before entering the Cathedral.

Chichester has, of course, been visited by Archbishops of Canterbury in the past, most notably : Henry Chichele in 1423; George Abbot in 1615; and Geoffrey Fisher who visited in 1953.

One Archbishop, Stephen Langton (1207-1228) died at Slindon, just outside the city.

But Chichester has actually produced a few Archbishops of Canterbury in its own right. The first of these was Aethelgar who, strictly speaking, was Bishop of Selsey (980-988) before he became Archbishop in 988 till 990.

The next two were somewhat troubled. Bishop Ralph Neville of Chichester became Archbishop-elect on 22nd Sep. 1231, but it only lasted until 20th Dec., his election having been squashed by Pope Gregory IX., because he wasn’t considered learned enough, despite having served as Lord Chancellor of England under King John. Whereas Simon Meopham, a prebendary of Chichester, elected on 5th Jun. 1328 lasted until 12th Oct. 1333, whereupon he died having, that same month, been excommunicated by Pope John XXII for refusing to attend an ecclesiastical court looking into his performance.

John Kempe had briefly been Bishop of Chichester in 1421, and was also Lord Chancellor under King Henry VI. He was elected to Canterbury, as an English Cardinal, in 1452 and served until 1454.

Finally, we have William Juxon, who was educated at the Prebendal School and worked as cathedral registrar at Chichester. He is noted for being at the side of King Charles I at his execution. After the Restoration, he became Archbishop of Canterbury from 1660 – 1663. Interestingly he was the last English clergyman to hold both secular and clerical offices; he was Lord High Treasurer of England and First Lord of the Admiralty, as well!

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