On a recent visit to the Chichester Council House I noticed that Bishop Bell’s portrait, which used to hang prominently on the first floor, was no longer visible.
This is a considerable pity, since apart from anything else it is a good picture by the well-regarded portraitist Eric Kennington.
Presumably it has been removed as part of the current campaign to render Bell a non-person. And in secret too, since I don’t remember reading anywhere that this had been done.
Bell’s name does however remain, gloriously, in the large board nearby which lists freemen of the city. It would be quite hard to scratch out that line!
Many will be relieved to know that, according to an article in the Telegraph, a fightback has now begun, with the formation of a George Bell Group to defend the bishop’s reputation.
The group, which includes Frank Field MP, a QC, a former chief constable, and the dean of Christ Church, Oxford (Bell’s college), points out for instance that basic steps like examining the bishop’s diary and other papers and interviewing his personal chaplain (who is
still alive), were not taken before his reputation was destroyed.
I hope that the work of the group will lead before long to seeing his portrait once more in its place of honour in our Council House.