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Diocese of Winchester

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Tim Dakin

Winchester Cathedral



Ecclesiastical province
Province of Canterbury

Bournemouth, Winchester

Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth Paul Moore, Archdeacon for Mission Development Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester

Jonathan Frost, David Williams

Diocese of winchester synod conference 2013

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.


Montage of images from thy kingdom come events in the diocese of winchester


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

  • the south-eastern quarter of the county (which together with the Isle of Wight constitutes the Diocese of Portsmouth)
  • an area in the north-east (belonging to the Diocese of Guildford)
  • a small area in the west (Diocese of Salisbury)
  • one parish in the north (Diocese of Oxford)
  • Outside Hampshire, the diocese includes an area of eastern Dorset.

    The diocese is divided into two geographical Archdeaconries:

  • the Archdeaconry of Winchester comprises the Deaneries of Andover, Whitchurch, Basingstoke, Odiham, Winchester, Alresford and Alton.
  • the Archdeaconry of Bournemouth comprises the Deaneries of Romsey, Eastleigh, Southampton, Lyndhurst, Christchurch and Bournemouth.
  • Additionally, it was announced on 6 April 2014 that Paul Moore had been appointed to the new role of "Archdeacon for Mission Development"; Moore has no geographical archdeaconry but instead leads the diocese in developing its mission.

    The diocese historically covered a much larger area, including the greater part of south-eastern England. In the most recent major 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 were removed 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 Church of 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 for the north and south of the diocese respectively (roughly corresponding to the archdeaconries of Winchester and Bournemouth). From 1895 until the suffragan See of Basingstoke was created in 1973, the Bishop of Southampton was the suffragan bishop for the whole diocese.

    Other bishops living in the diocese are licensed as honorary assistant bishops:

  • 1999–present: John Dennis, retired Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich and former Bishop suffragan of Knaresborough, lives in Winchester.
  • 2008–present: John Ellison, former Bishop of Paraguay, lives in Whitchurch.
  • 2009–present: Christopher Herbert, retired diocesan Bishop of St Albans, lives outside the diocese, in Wrecclesham, Surrey.
  • 2012–present: Timothy Bavin, Oblate Master at Alton Abbey, is a retired Bishop of Portsmouth who is licensed as an honorary assistant bishop in both Winchester (in which diocese the abbey lies) and Portsmouth dioceses.
  • 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 (as such it is sometimes called the "Diocese of Wessex"), with the cathedra at Dorchester Cathedral under Saints Birinus (a Roman missionary and the Abbey's founder) and Agilbert. This Wessex diocese covered most of Hampshire, Berkshire, parts of Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. It was transferred to Winchester in AD 660: the episcopal cathedral see was, at some point, at Old Minster, Winchester. Around 704, the diocese was split into the diocese of Winchester and the diocese of Sherborne. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the wealthiest English sees and its bishops 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, 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, 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. 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, Trevor Willmott. 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.

    During the 19th century, the bishop licensed many prostitutes who were known as the "Winchester Geese" and maintained a cemetery for them.


    Diocese of Winchester Wikipedia

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