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Christopher Maude Chavasse OBE MC (9 November 1884 – 10 March 1962) was a British athlete, soldier, and religious leader. He competed at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, served in the First World War, and was later Bishop of Rochester.



Chavasse was the son of Francis James Chavasse, Bishop of Liverpool and founder of St. Peter's College, Oxford. His twin brother, Noel Godfrey Chavasse,[1] won the Victoria Cross and bar. Christopher was the elder of the two by 20 minutes. The twins had two other brothers and three sisters.

Both Christopher and Noel Chavasse attended Trinity College, Oxford, competing in both rugby and athletics. They competed on the British team at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London: Christopher came second in his preliminary heat of the 400 metres shortly after Noel came third in his heat of the same event. Neither advanced to the semi-finals.

World War I

Medals of Noel and Christopher Chavasse. Noel's medals are top row. Christopher's medals are bottom row.

All four of the Chavasse brothers (Christopher, Noel, Aidan, and Bernard) served during the First World War. Christopher was a chaplain; Noel and Bernard served as medics. Aidan was wounded and went missing during a raid; the other three brothers each earned the Military Cross. Noel also became one of only three men to receive the Victoria Cross twice, the second posthumously. Christopher was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division. He and Bernard survived the war.

Christopher's other decorations included the 1914 Star with clasp, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Croix de guerre.


After the First World War, Chavasse rose through the ranks of the Church of England. He was nominated Bishop of Rochester on 19 March 1940, consecrated on 25 April the same year, and served in that position until his resignation on 30 September 1960.[2]

In 1948 a sermon given by Chavasse about Belshazzar's Feast was featured as a religious short film produced by J. Arthur Rank.[3]

In 1943 Chavasse was chairman of the Archbishops' Commission on Evangelism which published the controversial report Towards the conversion of England.[4][5][6] In accordance with his hope for mass evangelisation, in 1955 Chavasse supported the Crusade of Billy Graham at Harringay Arena.[7]

He served as the first Master of St. Peter's College, Oxford upon its founding in 1929 by his father.[8] He also served briefly as an original Trustee of the college upon its incorporation in 1961.[9]

Chavasse married shortly after the war, in 1919. One of his five children, a son named Noel in honour of his uncle, i.e. Christopher's brother, served in the British army during the Second World War. He also won a Military Cross.

Chavasse died on 10 March 1962.[2]


  1. ^ Gummer, S. The Chavasse twins‎. 1963 255 pages
  2. ^ a b Fryde et al., p. 269.
  3. ^ "Shot in the Arm". TIME Magazine (Time Inc.). 1948-12-06.,10987,853572,00.html. Retrieved 2006-07-24.  
  4. ^ Towards the conversion of England : being the report of a Commission on Evangelism appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York pursuant to a resolution of the Church Assembly passed at the Summer Session 1943. (dedicated to the memory of William Temple). Commission on Evangelism Westminster Press and Publications Board of the Church Assembly, 1945. 172 pages.
  5. ^ Beeson, Trevor. The Bishops, p.198
  6. ^ Edwards, D.L. Leaders of the Church of England, 1828-1944, p.335.
  7. ^ Manwaring, R. From Controversy to Co-Existence: Evangelicals in the Church of England 1914-1980, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p.90
  8. ^ St Peter's College, Oxford; University Calendar entry, 2003-2004
  9. ^ Constitution of The College of St. Peter le Bailey


Church of England titles
Preceded by
Martin Linton Smith
Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
Richard David Say


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