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Baldwin of Exeter
(Died 1190)

Abbot of Ford
Bishop of Worcester
Archbishop of Canterbury
Died: 1190

Baldwin was born in Exeter in Devon. He was appointed Archdeacon of that city by the Bishop of Exeter, but resigned the office and entered the Cistercian Abbey at Ford, of which he became Abbot. In 1180, he was made Bishop of Worcester and translated to Canterbury in 1185.

His pontificate was marked by a contest with the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury which is of lasting interest. It led to the establishment of the residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury at Lambeth, in the face of Papal opposition exerted through the agency of the monks of Christ Church. The contest arose, not only from the monks' resentment of the stricter control which Baldwin endeavoured to exercise over them, but from the claim which they put forward to a right in the election of the Metropolitan himself, on the ground that when the Arch-bishop was also Prior of the Monastery, the election always lay with them. To escape from this interference, Baldwin formed the project of erecting a College of Secular Canons at Hackington, near Canterbury. This project was frustrated by a Papal order but Baldwin obtained a site at Lambeth, where he commenced the building of his College instead. The unfinished building was destroyed after his death - vacante sede - through the influence of the monks of Canterbury. A subsequent College, erected on additional ground purchased by exchange from the Cathedral body of Rochester by his successor, Hubert Walter, shared the same fate. The latter did, however, succeed in fixing his own residence on the same ground, close to the centre of the nation's life at Westminster. It has been the home of the Archbishops ever since.

In 1190, Baldwin, having preached in Wales on behalf of the Crusade, set out for the Holy Land, where he died soon afterward.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC