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London, diocese of

London, diocese of. The senior see after the two archbishoprics, it comprises Greater London and part of Surrey north of the Thames. Though a British bishop from London attended the Council of Arles in 314, Augustine did not establish a diocese for the East Saxons until 604, but pagan reaction soon forced Mellitus, the first bishop, to flee. The set-back and popular veneration for Canterbury thwarted Pope Gregory's intention that London should be the metropolitan see. The true succession of London bishops restarts with Wine in 666, for Cedd, Celtic bishop of the East Saxons (654–64), was never based in the city. Many bishops of London have been translated to Canterbury, but, of those who were not, significant ones include Gilbert Foliot (1163–87), opponent of Becket; Edmund Bonner (1539–50 and 1553–9), papalist; Nicholas Ridley (1550–3), reformer, burned at the stake; Henry Compton (1676–1714), opponent of James II; Edmund Gibson (1723–48), Walpole's ecclesiastical manager; Mandell Creighton (1897–1901), the historian. St Paul's cathedral dates from the earliest years of the see, when significantly Æthelbert, king of Kent, not the king of the East Saxons, founded it for Mellitus. The medieval St Paul's, mostly 12th and 13th cent., was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The present cathedral (1675–1710) by Christopher Wren is in Renaissance style and miraculously survived the London Blitz (1940–1).

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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