Educated at the English Benedictine Abbey of Lamspringe in Hanover, and then with the nascent community at Ampleforth, Baines was appointed in 1817 to the mission of Bath, then the centre of the Catholic Church in the Western District. He was to remain a notable figure in Bath society for the rest of his life.
As Apostolic Visitor of the Western District he was involved in many controversial issues, particularly the question of how the Catholic Church should develop in the midst of a Protestant people. However, his great and undoubted talents were often offset by the flaws in his character which were to bring a tragic end to a career of great promise.
Bishop Baines succeeded in raising the profile of the Catholic Church, particularly in the west of England. A great correspondent, his letters and archives throw considerable light on the problems he faced, and provide a fascinating insight to the times in which he lived.
Pamela J. Gilbert grew up in Wiltshire. After taking her history degree at the London School of Economics, she had a career in personnel management, further education teaching and careers guidance. Since retiring, she has studied at the University of Bristol, obtaining an MA in Victorian Church History and a PhD in Nineteenth-Century Catholic Bristol.