Fulham Palace has been the country seat and home of the Bishops of London since about 700. It is surprising sight, perhaps unduly neglected, but now undergoing major renovation. In the grounds is the Bishops’ Tree.
The tree was a Cedar of Lebanon, and the carvings are by Andrew Frost. The cedar wood is naturally red and this shines through. (More pictures and information on Andrew’s site.)
Bishop Porteus is at the top of the tree, looking out over the garden. He was appointed Bishop of London in 1787 and remained in post until his death in 1809.
He was an extraordinary man, but perhaps surprisingly little-known. (This site for details.) He was an abolitionist and his views first became public in 1783 through a sermon to the Church Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in which he criticised slavery on Church Estates in the West Indies. He was a Founder Member of the Church Missionary Society, and started Sunday Schools. He was also responsible for the Sunday Observance Act, which regulated Sunday trading until 1994, as a means of upholding moral behaviour.
He was buried at St Mary Church, Sundridge, Kent.
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