William Wand

Bishop of London
Archbishop John William Charles Wand.tiff
ChurchChurch of England
ProvinceProvince of Canterbury
DioceseDiocese of London
In office1945–1955
PredecessorGeoffrey Fisher
SuccessorHenry Montgomery Campbell
Other post(s)Bishop of Bath and Wells (1943–1945)
Archbishop of Brisbane (1934–1943)
Ordination1908 (deacon)
1909 (priest)
Consecration1 May 1934
by archbishop Lang
Personal details
John William Charles Wand

(1885-01-25)25 January 1885
Died16 August 1977(1977-08-16) (aged 92)
College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, Surrey, England
ParentsArthur James Henry Wand and Elizabeth Ann Ovelin, née Turner
Amy Agnes Wiggins b.1883
(m. 1911; died 1966)
EducationThe King's School, Grantham
Alma materSt Edmund Hall, Oxford
Bishop Jacob Hostel
Sources: [1][2]

John William Charles Wand, KCVO, PC (25 January 1885 – 16 August 1977) was an English Anglican bishop. He was the Archbishop of Brisbane in Australia before returning to England to become the Bishop of Bath and Wells before becoming the Bishop of London.

Early life

William Wand was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, the son of Arthur James Henry Wand, a butcher, and his wife Elizabeth Ann Ovelin, née Turner. Despite Wand's father being a staunch Calvinist, his mother brought him up in the Church of England. Educated at The King's School, Grantham and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he took first-class honours in theology (BA, 1907; MA, 1911), he prepared for ordination at Bishop Jacob Hostel, Newcastle upon Tyne. He was ordained a deacon in 1908 and a priest in 1909. He served curacies at Benwell and Lancaster. On 11 October 1911 he married Amy Agnes Wiggins (1883-1966) at St Leonard's parish church in Watlington, Oxfordshire and they had two children. In 1914, he was appointed vicar-choral of Salisbury, and became part of a cathedral family centred on ‘the Close’.[3]

World War I

Wand volunteered for the army chaplaincy in July, 1915. He was Anglo-Catholic in a Chaplaincy in which ‘low church’ predominated.[4] He was posted to Gallipoli, and would write vividly of his experience there. For example, his simile of Sulva Bay conveys the fearsome context of British positions on a narrow beach. "Our position on that beach was rather like that of a theatre orchestra as he turns his back on the stage and looks up at the tiers of boxes and galleries in front and on either hand. Only in this case they were not filled with an applauding audience but with the enemy and his guns".[5]

Wand's autobiography is an evocative but rarely used source of first-hand experience of Gallipoli,[6] and Wand also wrote letters published in the Salisbury Diocesan Chronicle, including a reflection on how the reputation of padres depended on their willingness to display bravery. "The soldier needs not only a man who can preach to him, however eloquently, or pray with him, however movingly, or arranges his recreation for him, however good humouredly, but one who will lay his remains to rest in his last resting place in spite of the terror by night or the arrow that flieth by day. And who can blame him?"[7]

Wand was attached to Australian hospitals and hospital ships but caught paratyphoid and had to be evacuated to Malta and then to London. He had recovered by April, 1916, and was posted to Rouen[8] and after the Armistice, to Cologne.

Archbishop of Brisbane

Demobilised in March 1919, Wand was made perpetual curate of St Mark's, Salisbury, where St Clair Donaldson was bishop. In 1925 Wand became a fellow and the dean of Oriel College, Oxford and university lecturer in church history. Eight years later Bishop St Clair Donaldson was asked by archbishop Cosmo Lang to nominate a candidate for the see of Brisbane as archbishop.

Wand was consecrated in St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 1 May 1934, by archbishop Lang, together with the new bishop of Johannesburg and the suffragan bishop of Plymouth.[1] He was enthroned in St John's Cathedral, Brisbane on 5 September, after arriving in Brisbane on 30 August.[9]

Wand's arrival in Queensland was almost immediately clouded by the death in a climbing accident, near Chamonix-Mont-Blanc on the France/Switzerland border, of his only son, Paul (1912–34). He had a difficult reception: those who had wanted a local dignitary as their new bishop united to oppose Wand. His attempts to eradicate slackness made him appear authoritarian to his clergy. Sturdy in appearance, shy and gracious, Wand was often seen as being aloof and something of an intellectual snob though this belied his natural humour and quick wit. The decision to move St Francis's Theological College from Nundah to the Bishopsbourne property was unpopular, although Wand's relations with its students won him their respect and affection and its proximity to the Archbishop's home improved the standards of training. His establishment of a property and finance board to handle the economic problems of the diocese also did not meet with general favour.[citation needed]

Archbishop Wand leaving St John's Cathedral, Brisbane after service on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1937
Archbishop Wand leaving St John's Cathedral, Brisbane after service on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1937

As a member of the University of Queensland senate, Wand worked to promote biblical studies and helped to create the first university theological faculty in Australia. During his episcopate he wrote a weekly article for The Courier-Mail, translated the New Testament epistles and gave the Moorhouse lectures in Melbourne in 1936.[citation needed]

He consecrated Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral, Dogura, Papua (now Papua New Guinea) on 29 October 1939. The date was continually altered owing to the start of World War II and its isolated position. Dogura is in Milne Bay Province.[10] The cathedral was built on a battle site, held 800 with a further 500 standing outside at the consecration.[11]

Wand made a lecture tour of the United States of America in 1940. He argued in support of a new constitution for the Church, but thought that the proposed appellate tribunal should have a majority of bishops, rather than legal laymen, to determine points of doctrine.[citation needed]

Bishop of Bath and Wells

During World War II, when Brisbane resembled a garrison town, Wand and his wife worked for the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Help Society. His 1942 address to the Royal Society of St George defended the British war effort and was published as the pamphlet, "Has Britain Let Us Down?" This brought Wand to the attention of Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information, and of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

It was already known that Wand was unpopular in Australia since the Archbishop of Perth had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, asking Temple to find a post for Wand in England.[12] The death of the Bishop of Bath and Wells provided that opportunity.[13] Early in 1943, Wand was offered the see of Bath and Wells, and the family left Brisbane in July the same year.[2]

Bishop of London

Wand was surprisingly translated to London two years later, being interviewed personally by Winston Churchill at a lunch he described in his autobiography. Both appointments caused some dissension since Wand was suspected ‘...of Papish practice, and was roughly handled by Protestant demonstrators at his confirmation ....’[14]

In London post-war difficulties, including the rebuilding of shattered city churches, challenged and revealed Wand's administrative gifts. As bishop, Wand was a privy counsellor; in 1955 he was appointed KCVO;[N 1] in 1946-57 he was prelate of the Order of the British Empire. He resigned his see as Bishop of London in 1956.

Archbishop Fisher had preceded Wand at London, and was no admirer of Wand, writing after Wand's retirement, ‘Wand had been interested only in certain aspects of diocesan life. It was high time that the Diocese of London was placed in firm hands’.[15] Conversely, the scholarly Canon Charles Smyth wrote of Wand that he ‘ Was methodical, patient, shrewd, far-sighted, never complacent, but always cheerful, and physically robust.’[6] Dean Marcus Wright noted ‘There was nothing deceitful or ‘smooth’ about him: he was a straight man of integrity and you always knew where you were with him. He was no actor.’[16] High-powered as Wand was, the human side was expressed through a supply of detective stories read in bed at night and, as a family man, notably Saturday afternoons ‘sacred to the weekly visit to the cinema with Mrs Wand'.[17]

With the Bishop of Fulham Basil Batty, he supported the early ecumenical movement. He was the first Chairman of the Executive body of the British Council of Churches, attending the 1948 foundation of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam.[18]

Seretse Khama affair

On 25 September 1948, Seretse Khama, a 27-year-old black African man, and Ruth Williams, a 24-year-old white English woman, went to the Anglican St George's Church in Campden Hill, London, to get married. Half an hour before the service their vicar, the Reverend Leonard Patterson, under severe pressure from various parties opposed to the inter-racial marriage, told the couple he was not willing to perform at the ceremony.[19]

Khama, who was heir to the kingship of the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, and Williams, who was a London insurance clerk, pleaded with Patterson to change his mind, but instead he took them to the nearby St Mary Abbots church in Kensington to meet Wand, who, as Bishop of London, was performing an ordination. There they attempted to gain Wand's consent to be married in the Church of England. However, Wand refused such permission without even speaking to the couple himself, sending the Archdeacon of Middlesex with a message that read: "Get in touch with the Colonial Office. When they agree to the wedding, I will".[19]: 23–24 

Although senior officials at the Colonial Office had no say over whether the couple could get married in a church, or indeed anywhere else, they had made it known through various back channels that they were opposed to the union, not only because they found it distasteful but because they believed that, given Khama's royal status, it would create political difficulties with apartheid South Africa, a neighbouring state to Bechuanaland.[19]

Wand's refusal to sanction a church ceremony forced Khama and Williams to get married in a civil service four days later, at Kensington Registry Office in London.[19]

Latter years

After resigning as bishop, Wand was appointed minor canon and later Canon Treasurer of St Paul's Cathedral, London, until 1969 and edited The Church Quarterly Review.[2] A wide-ranging and facile historian, he wrote forty-five books, among them a History of the Modern Church (1930), History of the Early Church (1937), White of Carpentaria (1949), Anglicanism in History and Today (1961) and an autobiography, The Changeful Page (1965). Survived by a daughter, Wand died on 16 August 1977 at the College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, Surrey, and was cremated. An obituary in the Church Times paid tribute to his scholarship, administrative genius and unsentimental piety.[citation needed]

Selected works


  1. ^ Despite being a knight, the tradition in Britain is that no cleric bears the title of "Sir".


  1. ^ a b "Archbishop Wand Consecrated in London : Special Message to Brisbane". Queensland Times. Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. 3 May 1934. p. 7. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Arnott, F.R. "Wand, John William Charles (1885 - 1977)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  3. ^ Wand, p61
  4. ^ 'What Did You Do in the Great War, Bishop' by Tom Scherb, Stand To, no 95, September, 2012
  5. ^ Wand, p75
  6. ^ a b Church Quarterly Review of 'A Changeful Page' by Charles Smyth
  7. ^ Salisbury Diocesan Chronicle, November, 1915
  8. ^ TNA WO339/54926. Service Record
  9. ^ Onesimus (9 June 1934). "Religious notes : Archbishop's Arrival". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. p. 5. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  10. ^ Dogura Cathedral. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  11. ^ Warrington Strong, Philip Nigel (30 March 1940). "An account of the Consecration of the Cathedral Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Dogura, Papua, on Sunday, October 29, 1939". Anglican History. Australian Church Quarterly, volume 5, number 1. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  12. ^ Lambeth Palace Library, W Temple Papers 4
  13. ^ TNA PREM5/286, Records of the Prime Minister's Office
  14. ^ King's Counsellor; Diaries of Lascelles, edited by Duff Hart-Davis, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2006, p353
  15. ^ TNA PREM5/417 Records of the Prime Minister's Office
  16. ^ University of Bradford Special Collections. Pearl-Binns Papers
  17. ^ Lambeth Palace Library, ms 4828,60-110
  18. ^ Peart-Binns, John S. Wand of London. (Oxford, Mowbray, 1987)
  19. ^ a b c d Williams, A. Susan (2016). Colour bar : the triumph of Seretse Khama and his nation. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-198570-1.