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OnThisDay 1901: the last Victorian Bishop of London dies in office

The position of the third most senior cleric in the Church of England has had a rich history, with 132 men holding the title of Bishop of London since the year 604.

But for most, their role as priest would not be described as a 'second career' and their job as bishop seen as 'sometime'.

However, the Bishop of London as the 20th century dawned, Mandell Creighton, is seen by many as teacher, historian and advocate of social reform, as much as priest.

A great scholar of the reformation Papacy, as well as the unique social workings of the Church of England, Creighton was well-regarded as a historical academic, holding the position of Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University and becoming the first editor of the English Historical Review.

Ordained at the relatively mature age of 27, Creighton first worked as a vicar in Northumberland, before quickly rising through the ranks to become a Canon at Worcester Cathedral (1885), Bishop of Peterborough (1891) and then Bishop of London in 1897.
 
Creighton was a huge advocate of the education of children and was a key proponent of the 1897 Voluntary School Bill, which saw government funds go to support various denominational religious schools.

His period in office also saw him sit at the heart of the debate between 'low church' and 'high church' within the Church of England, with the former wanting to move away from the ritual of Roman Catholic traditions and the latter preferring an Anglo-Catholic way of performing liturgy, for example with the use of candles and incense.

Not long after becoming Bishop of London, Creighton was tasked with performing the service of thanksgiving for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, held outside on the steps of St Paul's as the ageing monarch was not able to get out of her carriage and into the Cathedral.
 
Afflicted with illness for much of his life, Creighton became increasing unwell and stomach pain, thought to be cancer, saw him die in office after just four years on 14 January 1901, aged 57. Queen Victoria died just a week later.

After his funeral at the Cathedral, he became the first Bishop London in 280 years to be buried within St Paul's. His wife, Louise, an activist for the role of women within society and the Church, was buried next to him 35 years later.
 
A great thinker and man of words, Mandell Creighton is today remembered equally as an academic historian and priest.

"No people do so much harm as those who go about doing good." ~ Mandell Creighton