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Anglican Diocese of Cape Town

Coordinates: 33°55′30″S 18°25′10″E / 33.92500°S 18.41944°E / -33.92500; 18.41944
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Diocese of Cape Town

Dioecesis Civitatis Capitis

Bisdom van Kaapstad
IDayosisi yaseKapa
CountrySouth Africa
Ecclesiastical provinceSouthern Africa
ArchdeaconriesCathedral, Athlone, Constantia, Groote Schuur, Ibongoletu, Rondebosch, Waterfront
Coordinates33°55′30″S 18°25′10″E / 33.92500°S 18.41944°E / -33.92500; 18.41944
CathedralSt. George's Cathedral
Current leadership
ArchbishopThabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town
SuffraganJoshua Louw, Bishop of Table Bay
Christ in Triumph over Darkness and Evil, stained glass window by French artist Gabriel Loire in memory of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town.
Desmond Tutu, archbishop from 1986 to 1996

The Diocese of Cape Town is a diocese of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) which presently covers central Cape Town, some of its suburbs and the island of Tristan da Cunha, though in the past it has covered a much larger territory. The Ordinary of the diocese is Archbishop of Cape Town and ex officio Primate and Metropolitan of the ACSA. His seat is St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town.[1]

Desmond Tutu was archbishop from 1986 to 1996 and was archbishop-emeritus until his death in 2021.[2] The current archbishop is Thabo Makgoba.[3] Because of the archbishop's responsibilities as primate, many of his diocesan duties are delegated to a suffragan bishop known as the Bishop of Table Bay, an office currently held by Joshua Louw.[4] (This is similar to the Bishop of Dover in the Church of England Diocese of Canterbury, who has held such a role since 1980.)


The diocese came into being in 1847 with the consecration of the first bishop, Robert Gray, and was the first diocese of what was to become the Church of the Province of Southern Africa and subsequently the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The original territory of the diocese, which had previously fallen under the Diocese of Calcutta, included the whole of Southern Africa.

In 1853, the territory was reduced by the creation of the Diocese of Grahamstown in the eastern parts of the Cape Colony and the Diocese of Natal in the Colony of Natal. In 1859, the Diocese of St Helena was created for Saint Helena and Ascension Island. In 1863, the Diocese of Bloemfontein was created, taking over all the territory north of the Orange River and the Drakensberg mountains. In 1866, J. Harries Thomas was archdeacon of Cape Town and H. Badnall, archdeacon of George; and N. J. Merriman, archdeacon of Bloemfontein (by then separated) was still a canon of Cape Town cathedral.[5] The territory of the Cape Town diocese was further reduced in 1911 by the creation of the dioceses of George and Kimberley and Kuruman. Finally, in 2005 the diocese was divided into three, with the part to north of the city of Cape Town becoming the Diocese of Saldanha Bay and the part to the east of the city becoming the Diocese of False Bay.


List of Bishops and Archbishops[edit]

Bishops of Cape Town
From Until Incumbent Notes
1847 1873 Robert Gray In 1853 resigned his overlarge diocese and received fresh letters patent for a new, smaller diocese.
1874 1897 William West Jones Became Archbishop of Cape Town.
Archbishops of Cape Town
1897 1908 William West Jones Died in office.
1909 1930 William Carter Previously Bishop of Zululand and then of Pretoria.
1931 1938 Francis Phelps Translated from Grahamstown; died in office.
1938 1948 Russell Darbyshire Translated from Glasgow and Galloway; died in office.
1948 1957 Geoffrey Clayton Translated from Johannesburg; died in office.
1957 1963 Joost de Blank Translated from Stepney.
1964 1974 Robert Selby Taylor Previously Bishop of Northern Rhodesia, then of Pretoria, then of Grahamstown; later Bishop of Central Zambia.
1974 1981 Bill Burnett Previously Bishop of Bloemfontein and then of Grahamstown.
1981 1986 Philip Russell Previously Bishop of Port Elizabeth and then of Natal.
1986 1996 Desmond Tutu Previously Bishop of Lesotho and then of Johannesburg.
1996 2007 Njongonkulu Ndungane Translated from Kimberley and Kuruman.
2007 present Thabo Makgoba Translated from Grahamstown.

Assistant bishops[edit]

From 1931, Sidney Lavis was coadjutor bishop of the diocese.[6] In 1964, Patrick Barron became an assistant bishop of the diocese.[7]


The Diocese has four diocesan schools:

Coat of arms[edit]

Diocesan arms (1952)

The diocese has borne arms since its inception. The arms, designed by Bishop Gray, combined elements of those of the dioceses of Durham (where Gray had been Bishop) and Bristol (his first chaplaincy, when his father was Bishop of Bristol) and of Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who financed the establishment of the diocese.

In their original form, the arms were : Quarterly Azure and Sable: I and IV, a lion rampant Argent; II and IV, three open crowns palewise Or; on a cross throughout Or an anchor in fess point Sable and in honour point the shield of arms of Baroness Burdett-Coutts; the shield ensigned with a Bishop's mitre proper.

The arms were revised by the College of Arms and granted in 1952. The revision consisted of replacing the Burdett-Coutts shield with a stag's head erased Gules, between the attires a pheon Azure. These arms were registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in 1968.[8]


  1. ^ St Georges Cathedral website
  2. ^ "Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Tutu". South African History Online. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
  3. ^ Fisher, Ryland (18 June 2013). "Maverick interview: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
  4. ^ New Bishop of Table Bay elected
  5. ^ The Clergy List for 1866 (London: George Cox, 1866) pp. 436440
  6. ^ The Living Church Annual. Morehouse-Gorham Company. 1957. pp. 381–.
  7. ^ "Retrospect of 1964". Church Times. No. 5316. 1 January 1965. p. 16. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 4 September 2019 – via UK Press Online archives.
  8. ^ Brownell, F. G. (2002). Heraldry in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, 1847-2000: Coats of Arms of the Dioceses, Collegiate and Parish Churches, and the Order of Ethiopia. Heraldsholme CC. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-620-28606-0.

External links[edit]

33°55′30″S 18°25′10″E / 33.92500°S 18.41944°E / -33.92500; 18.41944