David Stancliffe

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David Stancliffe
Bishop of Salisbury
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseDiocese of Salisbury
In office1993–2010
PredecessorJohn Baker
SuccessorNick Holtam
Other postsProvost of Portsmouth (1982–1993)
Consecration30 November 1993
Personal details
Born (1942-10-01) 1 October 1942 (age 77)
Devizes, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
ParentsMichael Stancliffe
SpouseSarah Smith (m. 1965)
Professionformerly musician
Alma materTrinity College, Oxford

David Staffurth Stancliffe (born 1 October 1942)[1] is a retired Church of England bishop. He was Provost of Portsmouth Cathedral from 1982 to 1993, and the Bishop of Salisbury from 1993 to 2010. He is the third generation of his family to serve the ordained ministry.

Early life[edit]

The son of Michael Stancliffe, former Dean of Winchester, who was himself ordained at Salisbury Cathedral, Stancliffe was born in 1942 in Devizes, Wiltshire, where his father was curate of St James' Southbroom, later serving at Ramsbury and Cirencester before becoming Chaplain to Westminster School. It was from Westminster School that Stancliffe went to Trinity College, Oxford to study classics and philosophy and where he was Organ Scholar. He had a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) degree from Oxford.

While at university, Stancliffe abandoned thoughts of a musical career in favour of ordination and instead went to theological training at Cuddesdon College in October 1965.

Religious life[edit]

Made a deacon on 8 December 1967 by John Moorman, Bishop of Ripon in the chapel of the Hostel of the Resurrection, University of Leeds[2] and ordained priest the next Advent (22 December 1968) by Howard Cruse, Bishop of Knaresborough, at Ripon Cathedral,[3] Stancliffe served as curate of the Leeds parish of St Bartholomew's Armley. Three years later he returned to the West Country as Chaplain to Clifton College, Bristol.[4]

In 1977, Stancliffe was appointed a canon residentiary of Portsmouth Cathedral and the diocesan director of ordinands and, subsequently, the lay ministerial adviser. For a time he also undertook the role of precentor in a combination of duties which recognised his special interests in the areas of liturgy, church architecture and music, while also involving him in clergy formation and training and the work of the parishes in the diocese.

Stancliffe was appointed Provost of Portsmouth in 1982[5] and his major work from then until 1993 was the completion and reordering of Portsmouth Cathedral, shaping its life and work to fulfil its primary function of supporting the Bishop of Portsmouth in his ministry.

Alongside other duties in the Diocese of Portsmouth, he was Vice-Chairman of the Governors of Portsmouth Grammar School, a Governor of Chichester Theological College, a member of the governing bodies of the Southern Dioceses Ministerial Training Scheme and of Salisbury & Wells Theological College and he was Chairman of the Southern Regional Institute.

In July 1993, Stancliffe succeeded Colin James, Bishop of Winchester, as Chairman of the Church of England's Liturgical Commission, a position which he held until 2005. He has served on the commission since 1986. Work with the commission has involved the publication of The Promise of His Glory and the preparation and publication of the Common Worship liturgies. This significant contribution to the life of the Church of England was recognised by the award by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, of a Lambeth Doctorate in Divinity (DD) in 2004. Stancliffe has been a member of the Council for the Care of Churches.

Stancliffe was consecrated a bishop on 30 November 1993, by George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, at Westminster Abbey,[6] and enthroned Bishop of Salisbury in Salisbury Cathedral on 9 December 1993. In June 2008, Stancliffe suffered a stroke[7] and while remaining Bishop of Salisbury took a leave of absence from episcopal duties. On 6 January 2010 he announced his intention to retire from the See of Salisbury.[8] His final act as bishop was the ordination of priests in Salisbury Cathedral at Petertide on 3 July 2010.[9] Although he officially retired as of 13 July 2010,[8] he continued in his duties at General Synod and completed his commitments as bishop and member of the House of Lords.

He is a Fellow of St Chad's College, Durham and is the President of Affirming Catholicism and Vice-President of the Royal School of Church Music.

On 11 February 2017, fourteen retired bishops signed an open letter to the then-serving bishops of the Church of England. In an unprecedented move, they expressed their opposition to the House of Bishops' report to General Synod on sexuality, which recommended no change to the Church's canons or practises around sexuality.[10] By 13 February, a serving bishop (Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham) and nine further retired bishops — including Stancliffe — had added their signatures;[11] on 15 February, the report was rejected by synod.[12]

Personal life[edit]

At Oxford he met Sarah Smith, a member of the same small choir. They were married in Westminster Abbey in July 1965.


  • God's Pattern: Shaping our Worship, Ministry and Life, SPCK, 2003. ISBN 9780281053605
  • The Pilgrim Prayerbook (compilation), Continuum, 2006. ISBN 9780826481672
  • The Lion Companion to Church Architecture, Lion Publishing, 2008. ISBN 9780745951904


  1. ^ Who's Who 2008: London, A & C Black, 2008 ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
  2. ^ "Ordination". Church Times (#5470). 15 December 1967. p. 16. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 24 May 2019 – via UK Press Online archives.
  3. ^ "Advent Ordinations". Church Times (#5524). 27 December 1968. p. 13. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 24 May 2019 – via UK Press Online archives.
  4. ^ Crockfords(London, Church House 1995) ISBN 0-7151-8088-6
  5. ^ Debrett's People of Today: Ed Ellis,P (1992, London, Debrett's) ISBN 1-870520-09-2)
  6. ^ "Briefly". Church Times (#6825). 3 December 1993. p. 2. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 24 May 2019 – via UK Press Online archives.
  7. ^ "Bishop in hospital after suffering stroke". Southern Daily Echo. 2008-06-23.
  8. ^ a b The Daily Telegraph "Retirements and resignations in the clergy" p32 Issue 48,094 (dated 18 January 2010
  9. ^ Diocese of Salisbury "Press Release - Bishop to resign" (6 January 2010) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-04-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Retired Bishops' Letter — The Letter Archived 2017-02-12 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 11 February 2017; the fourteen bishops were David Atkinson, Michael Doe, Tim Ellis, David Gillett, John Gladwin, Laurie Green, Richard Harries, Stephen Lowe, Stephen Platten, John Pritchard, Peter Selby, Tim Stevens, Martin Wharton, and Williamson.)
  11. ^ Retired Bishops' Letter — New Signatures Archived 2017-02-18 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 17 February 2017; the nine bishops were Gordon Bates, Ian Brackley, John Davies, Peter Maurice, David Rossdale, John Saxbee, Martin Shaw, Oliver Simon, and Stancliffe.
  12. ^ The Grauniad — Church of England in turmoil as synod rejects report on same-sex relationships (Accessed 17 February 2017)

External links[edit]