Robert Atwell

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Robert Atwell
Bishop of Exeter
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseDiocese of Exeter
In office2014–present
PredecessorMichael Langrish
Other postsBishop of Stockport (2008–2014)
Ordination1978 (deacon)
1979 (priest)
by Gerald Ellison (deacon)
Bill Westwood (priest)
Consecration24 June 2008
Personal details
Born (1954-08-03) 3 August 1954 (age 64)
Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom
ResidenceThe Palace, Exeter[1]
Alma materSt John's College, Durham
Westcott House, Cambridge

Robert Ronald Atwell (born 3 August 1954) is a British Anglican bishop, writer, and former Benedictine monk. Since April 2014, he has been the Bishop of Exeter. From 2008 to 2014, he was Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester.

Early life and education[edit]

Atwell was born on 3 August 1954 in Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom.[2][3] He was educated at Wanstead High School, a comprehensive school in Wanstead, London.[3] He studied theology at St John's College, Durham, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1975.[4][1] In 1976, he entered Westcott House, Cambridge to train for the priesthood.[3][5] During his training, he spent a period of time in Rome studying at the Venerable English College, a Roman Catholic seminary, and at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a pontifical university.[4] Following his ordination, he continued his studies and completed a Master of Letters (MLitt) degree from Durham University in 1979.[1]

Ordained ministry[edit]

Atwell was ordained in the Church of England: first, made a deacon at Petertide 1978 (25 June), by Gerald Ellison, Bishop of London, at St Paul's Cathedral,[6] and then ordained a priest the following St Peter's Day (29 June 1979) by Bill Westwood, Bishop of Edmonton, at St James Muswell Hill.[7] His career began with a curacy at John Keble Church, Mill Hill in the Diocese of London from 1978 to 1981.[1][8] From 1981 to 1987, he was chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge and a lecturer in patristics.[3][4]

In 1987, he entered the Order of St Benedict (OSB) and was granted Permission to officiate in the Diocese of Oxford.[1] He spent ten years as a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire.[9][10] Though he left the OSB in 1998, he maintains his link with the Benedictines as an oblate of Bec Abbey in Normandy, France.[4]

In 1998, he left the OSB to return to parish ministry as Vicar of St Mary's Church, Primrose Hill, an Anglo Catholic parish in the Diocese of London.[4][11] He held this role from 1998 until joining the episcopate in 2008.[1][12]

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Atwell was consecrated a bishop at York Minster on 24 June 2008. He was welcomed into the Diocese of Chester as Bishop of Stockport on 27 June 2008 at Chester Cathedral.[13][14]

On 21 January 2014, it was announced that Atwell would be translated to be the Bishop of Exeter.[15] The confirmation of his election occurred on 30 April 2014.[16] He was installed at Exeter Cathedral on 5 July 2014.[4]


Atwell supports the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.[17]


Selected works[edit]

  • Atwell, Robert (1995). Spiritual classics from the early church: an anthology. London: Church House Publishing. ISBN 978-0715148273.
  • Atwell, Robert (ed.). Celebrating the seasons: daily spiritual readings for the Christian year. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853112492.
  • Atwell, Robert, ed. (2004). Celebrating the saints: daily spiritual readings to accompany the Calendars of the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853115653.
  • Atwell, Robert, ed. (2005). Remember: 100 readings for bereavement. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853116414.
  • Atwell, Robert, ed. (2005). Gift: 100 readings for new parents. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853116407.
  • Atwell, Robert (2011). The contented life: spirituality and the gift of years. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1848250765.
  • Atwell, Robert, ed. (2005). Love: 100 readings for marriage. Norwich: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853116001.
  • Atwell, Robert (2012). Soul unfinished: finding happiness, taking risks, & trusting God as we grow older. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press. ISBN 978-1612612362.
  • Atwell, Robert (2013). The good worship guide: leading liturgy well. London: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1853117190.
  • Atwell, Robert (2014). Peace at the Last: Leading Funerals Well. London: Canterbury Press. ISBN 978-1848256668.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Robert Ronald Atwell". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  2. ^ Diocese of Chester — Who's Who
  3. ^ a b c d Atwell, Robert Ronald. Who's Who. 2017 (November 2016 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 25 June 2017. closed access
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Bishop of Exeter". Bishop of Exeter & Senior Staff. Diocese of Exeter. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  5. ^ "'Essex boy' faces wait for seat in House of Lords". Mid Devon Gazette. 22 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Ordinations". Church Times (#6020). 30 June 1978. p. 8. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 25 June 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  7. ^ "Petertide ordinations". Church Times (#6073). 6 July 1979. p. 17. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 25 June 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  8. ^ Famous London church
  9. ^ "Ten years as a monk: Meet the new Bishop of Exeter". ITV News. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  10. ^ Wyatt, Tim (24 January 2014). "Atwell to be Bishop of Exeter". Church Times. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Our Church: Our History". St Mary's, Primrose Hill. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  12. ^ Stockport’s “A list” Bishop
  13. ^ Diocese of Chester — Introducing the man who will be the new Bishop of Stockport (Archived 13 March 2009, accessed 25 June 2017)
  14. ^ Official announcement of appointment Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^
  16. ^ Diocese of Exeter – Election of new Bishop of Exeter formally confirmed (Accessed 9 May 2014)
  17. ^ "Right Reverend Robert Attwell backs women bishops". BBC News. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Nigel Stock
Bishop of Stockport
Succeeded by
Libby Lane
Preceded by
Michael Langrish
Bishop of Exeter