THE leader of the Church of England in Cumbria this week took part in the crucial national vote to allow legislation for women to become bishops.

The Rt Revd James Newcome, 59, Church of England Bishop of the Diocese of Carlisle, was at yesterday's historic meeting of the General Synod at Church House in Westminister.

Although unavailable for comment today, it is known Bishop Newcome favoured the move and has previously cited no objections to women being enthroned.

However, the vote to approve legislation which would have allowed existing female clergy the right to hold the highest positions, was marginally blocked by hierarchy in the church's Third House after failing to win the required two thirds majority.

This was despite 42 of England’s 44 dioceses being in favour.

Bishop Newcome, a married father-of-four and former Territorial Army officer, based in Keswick, heads the Carlisle diocese which represents 351 churches throughout Cumbria and over 100 schools.

Incoming head of the church, the Archbishop Of Canterbury, the Rt Rev Justin Welby of Durham, described the outcome of the 12-year-long saga as a “very grim day,” while existing Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, said the church “had a lot of explaining to do.”