The cope and mitre with Northamptonshire links is to be used during the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury this week.
The Most Revd Justin Welby will be wearing the items once worn by the former Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Ian Cundy, who died in 2009. They were given to the Archbishop by the Cundy family two years ago.
The robes, which were embroidered by the renowned ecclesiastical designer Juliet Hemingray, were originally a leaving gift to Bishop Ian from St John’s College and Cranmer Hall in Durham in 1992, where he had been on the teaching staff.
Bishop Ian frequently wore the robes in Peterborough Cathedral and around the Peterborough Diocese, which covers Northamptonshire as well as Rutland and Peterborough.
During Bishop Ian’s last three years in Durham, Justin Welby was one of his students. “Both families worshipped at the same church and we became good friends,” said Jo Cundy, Bishop Ian’s widow.
“This set of vestments has very special associations for me and the family and so we retained them in the hope that one day this mantle would pass to the right person.
“And so it did. When Justin was appointed Bishop of Durham we decided to offer the vestments to him – they found a new life and fitted him perfectly.”
On his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury only a year or so after his appointment to Durham, Justin Welby declined to have new robes made for his enthronement and will be wearing the “Cundy cope”, as it has become known.
“Ian would have been delighted,” Jo said. “Never could we have imagined that within a year of receiving the robes Justin would be nominated as Archbishop and the cope and mitre would be en route to Canterbury.”
Bishop Ian died while still in post in 2009, having been suffering from mesothelioma, a form of cancer of the lungs. His successor, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, in common with other bishops of the Church of England, will be present at the enthronement in Canterbury on Thursday.