THE TRANSFER TO PENRITH

On the death of Bishop Pelham in 1944 the Bishopric was placed into abeyance and there has been no Bishop of Barrow since.  The decision to transfer the Suffraganate to Penrith had been made at least by 1938, while Bishop Pelham was still in Office, and it is clear it was not welcomed by the clergy and people of Barrow and Furness. Bishop Goodwin had instigated the Bishopric of Barrow because Barrow was 100 miles distant from Carlisle and the largest town in the diocese. That was still the case in 1938 (and is still the case now!) so the decision to favour Penrith, 20 miles only from Carlisle and with a population a tenth that of Furness, makes no logical sense.   


It cannot now be determined just what or how many factors were at work in deciding to resurrect the Suffragan Bishopric of Penrith. One was certainly a kind of fixation with antiquity, in that Penith was one of the Suffragan Bishoprics permitted by Henry VIII's Suffragan Bishops Act 1534 at the time when he was disentangling the Church of England from Rome and establishing it as a national church.  There was a widespread belief that Penrith had a Bishop at that time but that is almost certainly mistaken. Barrow's claims to antiquity, if that was to be the over-riding factor, were just as great. It is true that the town was not established in Tudor times but it did have within its boundary Furness Abbey (pictured on the Home page), one of the earliest and largest Benedictine religious houses in England.


None of this, however, counted for anything and, as Bishop Goodwin had been absolutely determined that there should be a Bishop of Barrow, someone was now equally determined there should not be. In 1939 Bishop Williams of Carlisle appointed the Archdeacon of Carlisle, Grandage Edwards Powell, to the Suffragan Bishopric of Penrith, which has remained the Suffragan See for the diocese ever since.