Diocese of Winchester

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Diocese of Winchester
Ecclesiastical province Canterbury
Archdeaconries Bournemouth, Winchester
Parishes 306
Churches 410
Cathedral Winchester Cathedral
Current leadership
Bishop Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
Suffragans Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton
David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke[1]
Archdeacons Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth
Paul Moore, Archdeacon for Mission Development
Richard Brand, Archdeacon-designate of Winchester

The Diocese of Winchester forms part of the Province of Canterbury of the Church of England.

Founded in 676, it is one of the oldest and largest of the dioceses in England.


The area of the diocese incorporates the majority of the county of Hampshire, including the city of Southampton, with the following exceptions:

Outside Hampshire the diocese includes an area of eastern Dorset.

The diocese is divided into two geographical Archdeaconries:

Additionally, it was announced on 6 April 2014 that Paul Moore had been appointed to the new role of "Archdeacon for Mission Development"; Moore will have no geographical archdeaconry but will instead lead the diocese in developing mission.[2]

The diocese historically covered a much larger area, originally including the greater part of south-eastern England. In the most recent major diocesan boundary changes in 1927, the Archdeaconry of Surrey was removed to form the new Diocese of Guildford, and south-eastern Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to form the Diocese of Portsmouth.

The Bishop of Winchester is ex officio a Lord Spiritual of the Westminster Parliament, one of only five prelates of the Churchof England with such automatic entitlement. The bishop is also Prelate of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, that office having been held by every Bishop of Winchester since the Order was created.


The Bishop of Winchester (Tim Dakin) heads the diocese and is assisted by two suffragan bishops, the Bishops of Southampton (Jonathan Frost) and of Bakingstoke (David Williams), who are informally responsible as for the north and south of the diocese respectively (roughly corresponding to the archdeaconries of Winchester and Bournemouth).[3] From 1895 until the suffragan See of Basingstoke was created in 1973, the Bishop of Southampton was the suffragan bishop for the whole diocese.

There are also some other bishops living in the diocese who are licensed as honorary assistant bishops:

Alternative episcopal oversight (for parishes in the diocese which do not accept the sacramental ministry of women priests) is provided by the provincial episcopal visitor, Norman Banks, suffragan Bishop of Richborough, who is licensed as an honorary assistant bishop for ministry in the diocese.


The Diocese of Winchester is one of the oldest and most important in England. Originally it was the see of the kingdom of Wessex, with the cathedra at Dorchester Cathedral under Saints Birinus and Agilbert. It was transferred to Winchester in AD 660. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the wealthiest English sees and its bishops have included a number of politically prominent Englishmen, notably the 9th century Saint Swithun and medieval magnates including William of Wykeham and Henry of Blois.

Winchester was divided in AD 909, with Wiltshire and Berkshire transferring to the new See of Ramsbury. Nevertheless, the domains of the Bishop of Winchester ran from the South Coast to the south bank of the River Thames at Southwark, where the Bishop had one of his palaces, making it one of the largest as well as one of the richest sees in the land. In more modern times,[when?] the former extent of the diocese of Winchester was reduced by the formation of a new diocese of Southwark in south London, a new diocese of Guildford in Surrey and a new diocese of Portsmouth in Hampshire.

The Channel Islands were transferred from the Diocese of Coutances in Normandy, in France in 1500 by Papal Bull. The transfer was later confirmed by a letter from Elizabeth I and an Order in Council dated 11 March 1569 which "perpetually united" the Islands with the Diocese of Winchester and constituted the Bishop of Winchester Ordinary of them.[8] The Islands operated their own Canon Law under the Bishop of Winchester. The Channel Islands were removed from the oversight of the Bishop of Winchester in 2014 after a dispute with Tim Dakin led to a breakdown in relations, with the Channel Islands now being overseen by the Bishop of Dover.[9] However, this measure is expressly an interim one and there is no certainty of its becoming permanent. There has effectively been a scheme of episcopal delegation, the Bishop of Winchester having delegated his episcopal authority in the Channel Islands to the Archbishop of Canterbury who, in turn, has appointed the Bishop of Dover to exercise episcopal pastoral powers in the Channel Islands. The Bishop of Dover was formerly the Bishop of Basingstoke and, in that capacity, already familiar with the church in the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands remain part of the Diocese of Winchester and have not transferred to or been incorporated in another Diocese. [See Diocese of Winchester website: the Bishop's pastoral letter dated 24 January 2014.]

During the 19th century, the bishop[who?] licensed[clarification needed] many prostitutes who were known as the "Winchester Geese"[10] and maintained a cemetery for them.[11]

See also


  1. Diocese of Winchester – A new Bishop for Basingstoke (Accessed 26 June 2014)
  2. Diocese of Winchester – New Archdeacon for Diocese to Focus on Mission (Accessed 11 April 2014)
  3. Daily Echo – New Bishop for Southampton
  4. Dennis, John. Who's Who. 2014 (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Ellison, John Alexander. Who's Who. 2014 (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 18 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "CW Herbert". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 14 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  7. Bavin, Timothy John. Who's Who. 2014 (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 18 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. D. M. Ogier, The Government and Law of Guernsey, p. 21
  9. Channel Island church in Winchester split
  10. Another meaning of "winchester goose" is a bubo or a person infected therewith (mid 16th-17th century); at that time the brothels of Southwark were within the jurisdiction of the bishops of Winchester: Eric Partridge A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English; 5th ed., 1961; p. 959
  11. Constable, John. The Southwark Mysteries. Oberon Books, 1999, pp. 9, 264-5, 291, 304-5, 338-9.

External links

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