The Improbable Bishop Ian Ramsey of Durham - John S Peart-Binns
A succession of masterful figures had the honour of serving as Bishop of Durham; saints and sages, prince-bishops, warriors and statesmen, builders and governors, reformers and controversialists. In 1966 a most unlikely candidate stepped into this mix. Born and bred in Lancashire, Ian Thomas Ramsey’s background gave few clues as to his future calling.
A brilliant and original thinker, his works on philosophy, theology and science developed and popularised new concepts in each discipline. Ordained in 1940, he served a curacy at Headington Quarry, Oxford and spent twenty three years as an academic: a lecturer and chaplain at Cambridge followed by a professorship at Oxford. Ramsey was an unexpected but inspired choice for appointment as Bishop of Durham. Ian Ramsey was immediately embraced by the people of Durham and soon the Church of England had an irrepressible and popular bishop in their midst. Focusing on Ramsey’s years in Durham The Improbable Bishop depicts a man whose compassion and work ethic made him ‘Everybody’s Bishop’ in pit villages, rural communities and secular institutions across the county. The book is a sensitive but rigorous assessment of the virtues, strengths, vulnerabilities and limitations of a man who left a lasting legacy in Durham and whose ideas influenced thinking across the country.
The author, John S. Peart-Binns, is a critically acclaimed episcopographer of fifteen prominent twentieth century subjects. In 2008 he received an M.Phil. with distinction from the University of Leeds for his thesis on Establishment and Disesstablishment in the life, thought and work of Herbert Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham. Born and brought up in Bradford, he now lives with his wife Annis in the hub of the universe, Hebden Bridge in the South Pennines.
An affectionate and critical assessment of Ian Ramsey’s time as Bishop of Durham … one of the many good things about this book is the affectionate but shrewd memoirs by those who knew Ramsey and worked with him. CHURCH TIMES
Well researched and informative. It contains some very amusing and attractive photographs. Well worth a read. Christ College Oxford
In his latest biography Peart-Binns has done a great service. He has reminded us of a great scholar and churchman whose work on a number of moral and ethical issues influenced the thought of a nation.
Canon Malcolm Grundy Teal Trust