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'Essex boy' faces wait for seat in House of Lords

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

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The Right Reverend Robert Atwell's replacement of Michael Langrish as the 71st bishop of the Diocese of Exeter comes after a round of seven major retirements and appointments in the past year.

Bishop Robert will now join a waiting list for the House of Lords and may not take up a seat for several years. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester are "ex-officio" members of the House of Lords.

But the remaining 21 places on the Bishops' Bench are not determined by diocese, but are occupied by those English diocesan bishops that have served the longest.

If and when Bishop Robert finally joins peers, he 59-year-old, from Ilford, in Essex, who attended the state Wanstead High School, will become one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.

He was further educated at the St John's College, Durham and Westcott House, Cambridge.

He spent 10 years as a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire, which was sold in 2008 and is now the family home of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth and husband Matthew Freud.

He then served as a parish priest in leafy Primrose Hill in London, before becoming Bishop of Stockport in 2008.

He is unmarried, enjoys gardening and writing and is the author of a number of books, including Pilgrim: a course recently launched by the Church of England.

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