Eric Kemp

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Eric Kemp

Bishop of Chichester
Church Church of England
Province Canterbury
Diocese Chichester
Term ended2001 (retirement)
Predecessor Roger Wilson
Successor John Hind
Other post(s)Bishop Emeritus of Chichester (2001–2009)
Dean of Worcester (1969–1974)
Ordination1939 (deacon)
1940 (priest)
Personal details
Born(1915-04-27)27 April 1915
Died28 November 2009(2009-11-28) (aged 94)
Denomination Anglicanism
SpousePatricia Kirk
Children1 son; 4 daughters [1]
Alma mater Exeter College, Oxford

Eric Waldram Kemp FRHistS (27 April 1915 – 28 November 2009) was a Church of England bishop. He was the Bishop of Chichester from 1974 to 2001. He was one of the leading Anglo-Catholics of his generation and one of the most influential figures in the Church of England in the last quarter of the twentieth century. [2]



Kemp was educated at Brigg Grammar School and Exeter College, Oxford, graduating with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in 1936, Master of Arts in 1940, Bachelor of Divinity in 1944 and Doctor of Divinity in 1961. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1951 and received an honorary DLitt from the University of Sussex.


Kemp trained for ordination at St Stephen's House, Oxford from 1936 to 1939 where he later chaired the House Council. He was made deacon on Trinity Sunday (4 June) 1939 [3] and ordained priest the following Trinity Sunday (19 May 1940) — both times by Cyril Garbett, Bishop of Winchester, at Winchester Cathedral. [4] He served as assistant curate of St Luke's Church in Newtown from 1939 to 1941. He moved back to Oxford, where he remained for almost 31 years, first as Priest Librarian of Pusey House, Oxford (1941–1946) and Chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford (1943–1946) and then as Fellow, Tutor and Chaplain of Exeter College, Oxford from 1946 to 1969. He was Dean of Worcester from 1969 to 1974 and Bishop of Chichester from 1974 to 2001. He was consecrated a bishop on 23 October 1974, by Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Southwark Cathedral [5] — before the introduction of a mandatory retirement age and was able to continue in the post for as long as he chose. As a result, on his retirement he was one of the oldest and one of the longest-serving diocesan bishops in Church of England history. He had also held subsidiary appointments as Chaplain to the Queen (1967–1969) and Canon and Prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral (1952–2001). In April 1998 he was appointed Chanoine d'Honneur (Canon of Honour) of Chartres Cathedral. Following his retirement he was made Bishop Emeritus of Chichester.


Kemp's father-in-law, Kenneth E. Kirk, was Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford and Bishop of Oxford. Kemp wrote a book about Kirk [6] and in 2001 presented his letters and papers to Lambeth Palace Library. He and his wife Patricia had five children. One of his daughters, Alice Kemp, has been ordained a Church of England priest in the Diocese of Bristol. [7] His son is the playwright Edward Kemp, Director of RADA. [8]


Kemp was one of the leading scholars of ecclesiastical law and a participant in conversations between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain. He was a former member of the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved. [9] In 1998 a volume of essays on English Canon Law was published in his honour. [10]

He had special concern for homeless people and people living with HIV and Aids and was a supporter of the campaign to save the French Convalescent Home in Brighton. In 1994 he became President of the National Liberal Club.

He was one of only four bishops in the United Kingdom who declined to sign the Cambridge Accord, affirming the human rights of homosexuals. [11]

He encouraged women to serve in the permanent diaconate in his diocese but was an opponent of the ordination of women to the priesthood and women priests were not licensed in the Diocese of Chichester during his episcopate. The first woman to be licensed in the diocese, following the appointment of Kemp's successor, John William Hind, was the Reverend Pat Sinton who was licensed as priest-in-charge of St Mary's Shipley in November 2001. In Kemp's time women were able to work within the diocese through the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury. [12]





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  1. Daily Telegraph obituary
  2. Shy But Not Retiring: Memoirs synopsis. Shy But Not Retiring: Memoirs synopsis. ASIN   082648073X.
  3. "Trinity ordinations" . Church Times (#3985). 9 June 1939. p. 630. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 27 August 2019 via UK Press Online archives.
  4. "Trinity ordinations" . Church Times (#4035). 24 May 1940. p. 386. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 27 August 2019 via UK Press Online archives.
  5. "picture caption" . Church Times (#5829). 1 November 1974. p. 24. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 27 August 2019 via UK Press Online archives.
  6. The Life and Letters of Kenneth Escott Kirk, Bishop of Oxford, 1937-1954. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1959.
  7. "The Diocese of Bristol". Archived from the original on 20 July 2012.
  8. Cavendish, Dominic (27 September 2005). "Face to faith". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  9. "No. 52828". The London Gazette . 10 February 1992. p. 2231.
  10. English Canon Law: essays in honour of Bishop Eric Kemp; edited by Norman Doe, Mark Hill, Robert Ombres. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998 ISBN   0-7083-1478-3
  11. "The Cambridge Accord". Changing Attitude. 2001–2006. Archived from the original on 23 October 2001. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  12. "Diocese licenses first woman priest". BBC News . London: BBC. 16 November 2001. Retrieved 26 October 2006.