Vicar of Portsea became Archbishop of Canterbury

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On this day in 1910 Cosmo Lang, who had served as vicar of Portsea, Portsmouth, from 1896 to 1901, returned to St Mary’s Church as Archbishop of York.

His rapid elevation to this position, within 18 years of his ordination, was unprecedented and, in 1928, he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

During Lang’s visit he preached to a male-only congregation as president of the Church of England Men’s Society and then spoke at a meeting in the town hall.

As vicar of Portsea, Lang supervised the building of St Mary’s Parish Institute, which opened in 1898.

The size of the building had to be reduced when the estimated cost rocketed, but it had five classrooms and a hall which was used for temperance meetings, educational talks, fundraising bazaars and other parish activities. The institute later became Northern Secondary School.

Lang also served as chaplain to Kingston prison, the 2nd Hampshire Royal Artillery Volunteer Corps and to Queen Victoria, whose funeral he helped arrange.

In 1936, as Archbishop of Canterbury during Edward VIII’s abdication, Lang took a hard line and was widely criticised for being uncharitable towards the departed king – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.