Title ID 1643Collection ID503
TitleLambeth 1958
Date3 July 1958
KeywordsBuildings Ethnic Groups Religious Activities Religious Buildings Religious Festivals Urban Areas
LocalCanterbury Crawley [?] London Hong Kong
RegionalKent West Sussex Greater London
NationalEngland United Kingdom China India
ProductionSPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
CameraJames Normington
DirectorRaymond Kinsey
ProducerRaymond Kinsey; Robert Uden
WriterRaymond Kinsey
NarratorLeo Genn
SoundMaurice Askew; John Fletcher; Geoffrey Latter; Robert Uden
MusicJohn Hotchkis
ParticipantsStephen Fielding Bayne (Bishop of Olympia); Leonard James Beecher (Bishop of Mombasa); Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Baron Fisher of Lambeth (Archbishop of Canterbury); Mrs Rosamond Fisher; Hiyanirundu Lakdasa Jacob de Mel (Bishop of Kurunagala)
FormatMixed Colour and Black & White Sound
Duration29 min. 32 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A professional record of the ninth Lambeth Conference, an assembly of Anglican Bishops at Lambeth Palace in London.


On 3rd July 1958 over three hundred Anglican Bishops from across the world congregate at Canterbury Cathedral for the opening service of the ninth Lambeth Conference. For the first time in the Conference's history, the events are televised to the United Kingdom - a BBC camera is present in the Cathedral. The Bishops meet in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace on the following day - a sound crew records the proceedings for internal records, meanwhile the reporters and press photographers leave the room after the opening speech by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher. Individual committees meet to discuss a range of subjects and three representatives make direct addresses to the camera, explaining their committee's agenda. Leonard James Beecher, The Bishop of Mombasa and Vice Chairman of the 'Ministries and Manpower' committee, discusses the community spirit in Britain's New Towns - his words are illustrated by B&W images of a New Town (Crawley?), of its houses and shopping centre, and of a young mother being visited by a member of the clergy. Hiyanirundu Lakdasa Jacob de Mel, The Bishop of Kurunagala, from the 'Conflicts Between and Within Nations' committee, discusses human conflict - he does so from within the Church of St John the Divine in London which is undergoing restoration. Finally, Stephen Fielding Bayne, The Bishop of Olympia and Chairman of 'The Family in Contemporary Society' committee considers the problems of overpopulation - black and white images of rural India and of urban Hong Kong are used to illustrate his words. The findings of the various committees are drafted into reports, with the final resolutions being fed back to the Conference and being published for public consumption.

When not in meetings, the Bishops relax in the grounds of Church House, take a motorboat cruise along the River Thames, and visit several prolific London buildings including the Headquarters of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), and the Church Missionary Society. In addition they are guests at two garden parties - one hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the other by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Religious occasions during the Lambeth Conference include a Sun Eucharist at St Paul's Cathedral and Holy Communion at Westminster Abbey, an event which brings the Conference to a close.


A still from 'Lambeth 1958' - Members of the clergy

Contextual information

Lambeth 1958 (1958) was produced by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), an organisation dedicated to communicating the Christian faith via a range of media. Screen Archive South East also holds The Lambeth Conference 1948 (1948), a film of the eighth Lambeth Conference which was also produced by SPCK.

The main proceedings of The Lambeth Conference take place at Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but are not open to the public and press. SPCK therefore utilized the moving image format to provide an insight into a previously closed-off world, providing images which give added value to the reports, resolutions and encyclical letter published following the completion of the Conferences. Consequently, films such as Lambeth 1958 (1958) can be viewed as examples of the Church of England adopting modern technology to communicate its own modernity, ironically perhaps within the context of a long-established, dogmatic event.

The Lambeth Conference was initiated in 1867 - subsequent meetings have been held circa every ten years at the invitation of The Archbishop of Canterbury. The ninth Conference took place between 3rd July and 10th August 1958 and was presided over by Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury (Fisher also presided over the 1948 Conference and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953). In the Screen Archive South East film [Interview With Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher] (1961?) Geoffrey Fisher is questioned on a range of topics including the role of the church in contemporary society.

Related titles

Related resources


Carpenter, Edward. Archbishop Fisher: His Life and Times. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1991

This is a biography of Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961. Copies of the book are available at the British Library and at various Kent libraries.

Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, 1958. The Lambeth Conference, 195. The Encyclical Letter from the Bishops together with the Resolutions and Reports. London: SPCK, 1958

Copies of this official work from the 1958 Lambeth Conference are available at the British Library and at Kent County Central Library.

Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, 1958. The Lambeth Conference, 1958. Short Biographies of Bishops of the Anglican Communion. Westminster: Church Information Board, 1958

A copy of this book of biographies is available at the British Library.

Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, 1958. Lambeth, 1958 and You. London: SPCK, 1958

A contemporary report with illustrations on the 1958 Lambeth Conference. Copies of this book are available at the British Library and at Canterbury Library.

Morgan, Dewi. Lambeth Speaks. London: A.R.Mowbray and Co., 1958

A contemporary survey of the 1958 Lambeth Conference. A copy of this book is available at the British Library.

Stephenson, Alan M.G. Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences. London: SPCK, 1978

A history of the Lambeth Conferences to 1977. Copies of this book are available at the British Library and at Kent County Central Library.

Tatton-Brown, Tim. Lambeth Palace: A History of the Archbishops of Canterbury and their Houses. London: SPCK, 2000

A copy of this book on the history of the Archbishops of Canterbury and Lambeth Palace is available at the British Library.


Canterbury Cathedral Archives

Canterbury Cathedral Archives forms part of the Kent Archives Service. "Collections include records of the cathedral, Canterbury diocese, parishes in the Canterbury archdeaconry, Canterbury City Council and its predecessors, and other organisations, businesses, administrations and individuals in the Canterbury area."

Lambeth Palace Library

"Lambeth Palace Library is the historic library of the archbishops of Canterbury and the principal library and record office for the history of the Church of England."

The National Archives

The National Archives at Kew houses a number of collections pertaining to the 1958 Lambeth Conference. The National Archives' database is searchable online.


Archive of Resolutions from Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Bishops

This website details the Resolutions from all of the Lambeth Conferences, dating from the first conference in 1867 to the thirteenth conference in 1998.

The Church of England

The website for The Church of England.

Church Mission Society (CMS)

"A community of mission service, loving God's world and living God's way: encouraging people to live a mission lifestyle, equipping people in mission service, sharing resources for mission work."

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK)

"SPCK was founded in 1698 and works with Christians all over the world, helping people grow in the Christian faith." This website is, "the web home of Christian Books, SPCK Publishing, Sheldon Press Self Help books, The Assemblies Website, SPCK World Wide and much more."

The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) or US.

"US." or USPG ..."are a church based charity working in direct partnership with Anglican Churches around the world."