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Walter Branscombe
Denomination Catholic
Senior posting
See Diocese of Exeter
Title Bishop of Exeter
Period in office 1258–1280
Predecessor Richard Blund
Successor Peter Quinel
Religious career
Priestly ordination 9 March 1258
Previous post Archdeacon of Surrey
Date of birth c. 1220
Date of death 22 July 1280

Walter Branscombe (or Walter Bronscombe, Walter Branescombe, Walter Bronescombe, or Walter Bronescomb) was bishop of Exeter from 1258 to 1280.



Nothing is known of his ancestry or education, but he was born in Exeter about 1220. He held a prebend in of St Nicholas's College at Wallingford Castle, as well as a number of other benefices.[1] He also was archdeacon of Surrey.[2] In 1250, he acted as King Henry III of England's representative at the papal curia, and was appointed the king's proctor the next year. Besides being a royal clerk, he was often named as a papal chaplain also. Before 1254 he became a canon of Exeter Cathedral.[1]

He was elected to the see of Exeter on 23 February 1258 and consecrated on 10 March 1258.[3] He was ordained a priest on 10 March 1258, with both rites being performed by Boniface of Savoy, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was enthroned at Exeter on 14 April 1258.[1]

Maurice Powicke's opinion was that, having been trained in the royal service, he settled down to become an assiduous diocesan bishop.[4] He faced some problems at the start of his time as bishop, for right after the death of the previous bishop, Richard Blund, a number of Blund's officials and clerks had used Blund's seal to forge letters giving away benefices as well as Blund's property. This left Branscombe with debts and administrative issues.[5] He undertook building work on the Lady Chapel and choir in Exeter Cathedral.[6] He also continued to perform diplomatic missions for the king, as he was at Paris in 1258 and 1263. He attended a general council of the church held at Lyons in the summer of 1274.[1]

His register of his diocesan administration is the earliest episcopal one surviving from Exeter. He was a founder of a number of churches in his diocese, and issued sets of instructions for his cathedral church as well as others in his diocese. His last years were occupied with a dispute with Edmund earl of Cornwall over the earl's infringement of ecclesiastical rights.[1]

He died on 22 July 1280[3] at Bishopsteignton. He was buried in Exeter Cathedral, where his tomb, with the bishop's effigy, still survives.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Denton "Bronescombe, Walter of (c.1220–1280)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300: volume 2: Monastic cathedrals (northern and southern provinces): Archdeacons: Surrey
  3. ^ a b Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 246
  4. ^ Powicke The Thirteenth Century, p. 485
  5. ^ Moorman Church Life in England p. 173
  6. ^ Exeter's Architectural Treasure: The Cathedral of St. Peter accessed on 31 August 2007


Further reading

  • Robinson, O. F. (ed.) The Register of Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter, 1258–1280, 3 vols. Canterbury & York Society, from 1995

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Richard Blund
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
Peter Quinel


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