Wallace Benn

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Wallace Benn
Bishop of Lewes
ChurchChurch of England
In office1997–2012
PredecessorIan Cundy
SuccessorRichard Jackson
Consecration1 May 1997
Personal details
Born (1947-08-06) 6 August 1947 (age 72)
Lindsay (m. 1978)
Alma materUniversity College, Dublin

Wallace Parke Benn (born 6 August 1947) is a retired English Anglican bishop. He was the area Bishop of Lewes in the Diocese of Chichester in the Church of England from 1997 until his retirement in October 2012.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Benn was born on 6 August 1947.[2] He was educated at St. Andrew's College, Dublin, then an all-boys school in Dublin.[2] He studied at University College, Dublin, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1969.[3][4] In 1969, he entered Trinity College, Bristol, an Evangelical Anglican theological college, to train for ordained ministry.[4] During this time he also studied for a diploma in theology (DipTheol) which was validated by the University of London.[2][5]


Ordained ministry[edit]

Benn was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1972 and as a priest in 1973.[6] His ordained ministry began with curacies at St Mark's New Ferry, Wirral and St Mary's Cheadle, after which he was Vicar of St James the Great, Audley, Staffordshire and finally (before his consecration to the episcopate) St Peter's Harold Wood.

On 1 May 1997, Benn was consecrated a bishop.[4][7] He then served as the Bishop of Lewes, an area and suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Chichester.[2] He retired from full-time ministry on 31 October 2012.[8] Since 2013, he has held Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Peterborough.[4]

In May 2019, The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) as part of its investigation into the Anglican Church published case studies on the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against the disgraced former Bishop of Lewis, Peter Ball. Chichester Diocese had been singled out for study because over 50 years, 20 individuals with connections to this Diocese had been convicted or pleaded guilty to sexual offending against children. In the Executive Summary,[9] in the Section "The response by the Church", the Inquiry said: "The question remains why the Church’s responses to sexual abuse in Chichester, including the Peter Ball case, were so inadequate. They had devastating consequences for the children and young people who were affected. There are some reasons already well known to this Inquiry from other investigations, principally concerning the prioritisation of reputation over the protection of children. There was a deep‐seated arrogance amongst some senior clergy, including Bishop Wallace Benn. They believed that they were right in their indulgent attitude towards some perpetrators, even when they had been convicted. In Bishop Benn’s case, his failings were compounded by his litigious approach to perceived criticism."


Benn has written two books and numerous pamphlets, including The Last Word: Jesus' Teaching in The Upper Room [10] and Jesus Our Joy: Learning about True Spirituality.[11]


Benn has been described as a complementarian evangelical.[12] He is a council member of Reform, a conservative evangelical grouping in the Church of England opposed to women priests and to the consecration of women as bishops.[13] In 2008, he attended the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem.[14]

Personal life[edit]

In 1978, Benn married Lindsay Develing.[2] Together they have two children: one son and one daughter.[2]

In 2002, Benn appeared on the popular BBC television motoring series Top Gear, placing third in the first "Fastest Faith" competition.[15]


  • Wallace Benn Esq (to 1973)
  • The Revd Wallace Benn (1973–1997)
  • The Rt Revd Wallace Benn (1997—present)


  1. ^ Anglican Communion
  2. ^ a b c d e f "BENN, Rt Rev. Wallace Parke". Who's Who 2017. Oxford University Press. November 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  3. ^ Who's Who2008: London, A & C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
  4. ^ a b c d "Wallace Parke Benn". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  5. ^ Diocese of Chichester — Other Staff
  6. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory2008/2009 Lambeth, Church House Publishing ISBN 978-0-7151-1030-0
  7. ^ Essex Man Moves South in New Directions, March 1997 (Online; accessed 7 May 2014)
  8. ^ Thinking Anglicans
  9. ^ https://www.iicsa.org.uk/reports/anglican-chichester-peter-ball/executive-summary
  10. ^ http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/513/
  11. ^ http://www.parable.com/i.Jesus-Our-Joy-Learning-about-True-Spirituality-Benn-Wallace.9781857924435
  12. ^ Gatiss, Lee (5 May 2015). "Topical Tuesday: Bishop Rod Thomas". Church Society. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Reform council members". Reform. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
  14. ^ Thomas, Rod (31 August 2012). "Where are the Reform Bishops?". Church of England Newspaper. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  15. ^ Top Gear, Series 1, Episode 7 (first broadcast 1 December 2002).
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Ian Cundy
Bishop of Lewes
Succeeded by
Richard Jackson