John Bishop

The John Bishop Charitable Trust was founded in 1994 as memorial to Dr John Bishop, priest and scholar. This page provides an account of Fr Bishop’s life, academic pursuits and ministry.

John Bishop, son of an East Devon farmer in the UK, was born in 1930. He went to Bristol University and gained a first class degree in History. After National Service in the Air Force he trained for the priesthood at Chichester Theological College. Having served two curacies, he returned to the College as Tutor and Librarian.

He was attracted at first by liberal theology, but emerged as a staunch defender of the traditional faith, which he taught vigorously in the College until 1970. He was an able and patient teacher, and though known for being silent and sombre, and for being rigorous and unswerving in matters of principle, he could suddenly reveal another side—witty, urbane, charming, amusing and kind, with a great gift for friendship.

He left the College in 1970, to take up the parish of Dartington in South Devon, and married Elaine Penwarden, a teacher with a Cornish background. On top of his pastoral cares, he completed his doctoral thesis on Jung and Christianity, and was Rural Dean and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England for many years.

Gardening, swimming in the sea, scrambling over cliffs and exploring classical archaeological remains were some of his leisure pursuits. Throughout his life he judiciously built up his Library of some 5,000 theological books, and about 3,000 volumes on other subjects. His theological books are on permanent loan to the Abbey of Notre Dame du Bec-Hellouin, Normandy. Cancer forced his early retirement, and he died in 1992.

The John Bishop Charitable Trust was founded in 1994, its objects being the administration of his theological Library, the fostering of ecumenism and the relief of human pain.