Oliver King

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Not to be confused with Olive King or King Oliver.
The Right Reverend
Oliver King
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bathabbey at night amcm.jpg
Bath Abbey at sunset
Church Roman Catholic
See Diocese of Bath and Wells
Appointed 6 November 1495
Term ended 29 August 1503
Predecessor Richard Foxe
Successor Adriano de Castello
Consecration 3 February 1493
Personal details
Died 29 August 1503
Previous post Bishop of Exeter

Oliver King (c. 1432 – 29 August 1503) was a Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Bath and Wells who restored Bath Abbey after 1500.

Early life[edit]

Educated at Eton, where he was a king's scholar, and King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated Master of Arts by 1456/57, was a Fellow of King's and served as junior proctor of the University in 1459–1460.[1] He became a priest then studied civil law at the University of Orléans as well as at Cambridge, graduating as doctor of Civil Law.


In 1466 King was appointed Rector of Broughton, Hampshire, and in 1473 Warden of St John's Hospital, Dorchester. Under the new regime of Edward IV of England he was appointed Clerk of the Signet in 1473, in 1475 was sent as ambassador to the Duke of Brittany, in 1476 became the king's principal Secretary for the French tongue, and in 1480 succeeded William Hatteclyffe as king's secretary.[2]

In 1480 he was appointed Canon of the eleventh stall at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, a position he held until 1503.[3]

King was appointed Bishop of Exeter on 1 October 1492, consecrated on 3 February 1493.[4] He was then translated to the see of Bath and Wells on 6 November 1495. He died on 29 August 1503.[5]

Restoration of Bath Abbey[edit]

King organised the restoration of Bath Abbey after 1500. The story of the refounding is told on the front of the Abbey in carved Bath stone. King had a dream in which he saw a host of angels on a ladder, the Holy Trinity and an olive tree with a crown on it. He heard a voice:

'Let an Olive establish the crown, and let a King restore the Church.'

King believed this was a call for him to support the candidature of Henry Tudor as King, and to restore the Abbey. These images are carved on the West Front of the Abbey with coats of arms of the Montague Family (who paid for the carved wooden doors) and Henry VII's coat of arms. There are also statues of the twelve apostles, including a large statue of St Peter and one of Saint Paul.


  1. ^ "King, Oliver (KN449O)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ S. J. Gunn, 'King, Oliver (d. 1503), bishop of Bath and Wells' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  3. ^ Fasti Wyndesorienses, May 1950. S.L. Ollard. Published by the Dean and Canons of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
  4. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 247
  5. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 228


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Richard Foxe
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
Richard Redman
Preceded by
Richard Foxe
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by
Adriano de Castello