Anglican Diocese of Worcester
|Diocese of Worcester|
|Bishop||Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester|
|Suffragan||Bishop of Dudley (Vacant; bishop-designate: Graham Usher)|
|Archdeacons||Roger Morris, Archdeacon of Worcester
Nikki Groarke, Archdeaconry of Dudley
The diocese was founded in around 679 by St Theodore of Canterbury at Worcester to minister to the kingdom of the Hwicce, one of the many Anglo Saxon petty-kingdoms of that time. The original borders of the diocese are believed to be based on those of that ancient kingdom.
Covering an area of 671 square miles (1,740 km2) it has parishes in:
- the County of Worcestershire
- the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley
- northern Gloucestershire
- urban villages along the edge of the south-east of the Metropolitan Borough of Wolverhampton
- the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell
Currently the diocese has 190 parishes with 281 churches and 163 stipendiary clergy.
The diocese is divided into two Archdeaconries:
On its creation the diocese included what is now southern and western Warwickshire (an area known as Felden). On 24 January 1837 the north and east of Warwickshire (Arden) which formed the archdeaconry of Coventry in the then Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry was transferred to the diocese of Worcester. In 1905 an area in northern Warwickshire was split off as the Diocese of Birmingham, and in 1918 an area approximating to the rest of Warwickshire was made the Diocese of Coventry.
The Church of Worcester is believed to have been founded in the late 7th century. It seems to have benefited in the 8th century from the support of the kings of Mercia. Through this royal support the Bishopric found itself in a position from which it was able to gradually extend its control over several of the other prominent minsters in the area during the seventh and eighth centuries. Consequently In the ninth century the bishopric of Worcester can be seen to be the most powerful ecclesiastical power in Mercia during this time. From this position the church was able to use their great wealth to buy privileges for themselves from the kings of Mercia. Later in the period it was from Mercia, and in particular Worcester, that King Alfred began to recruit priests and monks with which to rebuild the church in Wessex during the 880s (Asser, ch. 77). It has been argued that these priests bought with them a new attitude towards the churches place within society and the churches relationship with the monarchy. Consequently, we can see from the Bishopric of Worcester the emanation of a new ecclesiastical ideology that would develop over time to become the accepted Anglo-Saxon church.
The Charters of Worcester are one of the key sources for historians studying the period and are a major reason for the insight that we have regarding the early Anglo-Saxon Church. The Charters exist within the Worcester archive which is itself the largest Anglo-Saxon archive of its kind. It contains many texts,ranging from late 7th to the 11th centuries, providing for us an unprecedented continuous history of the Church. This archive takes physical form in that 2 distinct cartularies. The first cartulary, cartulary A (Cotton Tiberius A xiii), contains in it the majority of the charters that make up the archive. It is from these that we are able to develop a coherent picture of land ownership and societal responsibilities during the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond. A prominent example of this is no. 95 of cartulary A which shows the 8th-century king of Mercia, Ceolwulf II granting the Bishopric of Worcester exemption from royal dues in exchange for money. This example shows not just the dues and power of the king himself but also the wealth and power of the Church, the sophisticated system of bartering and exchange that existed at the time and also the legal system of recording important transactions.
- Della Hooke, The Kingdom of the Hwicce (1985), pp.12-13
- The London Gazette: . 24 January 1837. Retrieved 9 February 2013.