Sussex school named after disgraced clergyman Bishop Bell may change its name

Bishop Bell school ENGSUS00120120924121716
Bishop Bell school ENGSUS00120120924121716

A Sussex school is considering changing its name because the senior clergyman it was named after was revealed as a paedophile who sexually abused a young child.

Eastbourne’s Bishop Bell was named after George Bell, the late bishop of Chichester, who died 57 years ago.

Last month it was revealed the Church of England issued a formal apology for sexual abuse committed by Bell against a young child, whose identity and gender has not been disclosed, in the 1940s and 50s.

The survivor first came forward 20 years ago, but the matter was not investigated or referred to police at the time.

The church settled the claim at the end of September and on Thursday released a letter from the serving bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, to the survivor expressing “deep sorrow” and apologising for a “devastating betrayal of trust”.

Bishop Luffa School in Chichester has already announced it will be renaming one of its houses named after the bishop.

A spokesperson for Bishop Bell School said this week, “As a school community our thoughts are with the victim.

“There can be no hiding place for abusers, regardless of their position in society or the length of time since the abuse took place.

“We started a rebranding exercise in 2014 that has seen parts of the school completely transformed and further work is planned. The name of the school is part of this review. However, this latest news has accelerated the discussion and we will make a decision on it as soon as possible.

Formerly Bedewell School on Whitley Road, Bishop Bell School was reopened in Priory Road on May 25 1959 by Princess Margaret and was named after the then Bishop George Bell, who ordered its construction.

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