Diocese of Salisbury

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Coordinates: 51°03′54″N 1°47′53″W / 51.065°N 1.798°W / 51.065; -1.798

Diocese of Salisbury
Ecclesiastical province Canterbury
Archdeaconries Dorset, Sarum, Sherborne, Wilts
Parishes 459
Churches 582
Cathedral Salisbury Cathedral
Current leadership
Bishop Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury
Suffragans Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne
Ed Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury
Archdeacons Alan Jeans, Archdeacon of Sarum
Paul Taylor, Archdeacon of Sherborne
Stephen Waine, Archdeacon of Dorset
Ruth Worsley, Archdeacon of Wilts
Map of the dioceses of the Church of England showing Salisbury Diocese in red.

The Diocese of Salisbury is a Church of England diocese in the south of England. The diocese covers Dorset and most of Wiltshire (excepting Swindon and a part of north Wiltshire) and is a constituent diocese of the Province of Canterbury. The diocese is led by the Bishop of Salisbury (Nick Holtam) and the diocesan synod. Salisbury Cathedral is the liturgical centre of the diocese.

Early history[edit]

In 705, the Diocese of Sherborne was created, when it was carved out of the growing bishopric of the West Saxons. The first Bishop of Sherborne was Saint Aldhelm. However, the old Diocese of Sherborne covered quite a different area from that covered by the modern diocese. In 909, the Diocese of Ramsbury was carved out of the north-western portion of the Diocese of Winchester. In 1058, Herman, Bishop of Ramsbury, was elected as Bishop of Sherborne, and the two sees were combined under his personal oversight. This combination was more like the shape of the modern diocese, but with the addition of most of Berkshire. After the Norman Conquest, in 1078, Saint Osmund was appointed to the combined dioceses of Sherborne and Ramsbury, and moved the see to the castle at Salisbury. The original, Norman foundation was built on what is now known as Old Sarum, a hill to the north of the modern city. In 1220, Bishop Richard Poore began the construction of the grand cathedral on what has now become the centre of Salisbury.

Modern history[edit]

Dorset was added in 1836 with the abolition of the Diocese of Bristol, whilst Berkshire was removed the same year and added to the Diocese of Oxford.

In 1925 a suffragan bishop was appointed to assist the Bishop of Salisbury; owing to its historical importance, this bishop was titled the Bishop of Sherborne. In 1974 an additional suffragan was appointed, titled the Bishop of Ramsbury.

Until 2009[1] the bishops operated under an episcopal area scheme established in 1981, with each suffragan bishop having a formal geographical area of responsibility, and being known as "area bishops". The Bishop of Ramsbury had oversight of the diocese's parishes in Wiltshire, while the Bishop of Sherborne had oversight of the diocese's parishes in Dorset. This scheme was replaced to reflect the increased working across the whole diocese by all three bishops. The two suffragans may now legally function anywhere in the diocese, and the Bishop of Salisbury may delegate any of his functions to them.

The diocese is also divided into four archdeaconries, two for each county. These are further subdivided into deaneries and parishes.

Archdeaconries and deaneries[edit]

Sarum Use[edit]

The Sarum Rite (more properly called Sarum Use) was a variant of the Roman Rite widely used for the ordering of Christian public worship, including the Mass and the Divine Office. It was established by Saint Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury in the 11th century[2] and was originally the local form used in the Cathedral and Diocese of Salisbury; it later became prevalent throughout southern England and came to be used throughout most of England, Wales, Ireland and later Scotland until the reign of Queen Mary.[3] Although abandoned after the 16th century, it was also a notable influence on the pattern of Anglican liturgy represented in the Book of Common Prayer. Occasional interest in and attempts at restoration of the liturgy by Anglicans and Roman Catholics have not produced a general revival, however.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Salisbury Diocesan Synod minutes – 99th session, 7 November 2009 p. 3 (Accessed 23 April 2014)
  2. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Sarum Rite". Newadvent.org. 1912-02-01. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  3. ^ "Photostats of Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria 2565, Sarum Missal". Bodley.ox.ac.uk. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 

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