Diocese of Sodor and Man

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Diocese of Sodor and Man
Dioecesis Sodorensis et Monensis
Aspickys Sodor as Vannin
Ecclesiastical province York
Archdeaconries Man
Deaneries Castletown, Douglas, Peel, Ramsey
Parishes 15 (in 14 benefices)
Churches 43
Denomination Church of England
Cathedral Peel Cathedral
Current leadership
Bishop Bishop of Sodor and Man (vacant)
acting bishop: Richard Blackburn, Bishop of Warrington
Archdeacon Andie Brown, Archdeacon of Man

Sodor and Man is a diocese of the Church of England. Originally much larger, today it covers just the Isle of Man and its adjacent islets. Today, the bishop's offices are based in Douglas and the cathedral is in Peel. The diocese is not generally called either Sodor diocese or Man diocese.


The diocese administers 43 churches, which are grouped into parishes. Following extensive pastoral reorganisation in 2012 there are 15 such parishes. Two of these 15 parishes ('Onchan' and 'Lonan & Laxey') have been formally grouped into a team ministry with one Team Rector and one Team Vicar, meaning that there are 14 benefices. The cathedral in Peel is part of the Parish of the West Coast, whose parish priest is ex officio Dean of the cathedral, and bears the title "Very Reverend". The Archdeacon of the Diocese is also the parish priest of one of the 14 benefices.

The parishes are grouped into four "Mission Partnerships", named eastern, western, southern, and northern, for purposes of administration, mission, and inter-parochial co-operation. Originally informal (from 2010) these mission partnerships became legal entities on 1 January 2013 under the Mission and Pastoral Measure (Isle of Man) 2012 legislation. They have completely replaced the more traditional Rural deanery structure, and the measure has legally abolished the former deaneries and the office of Rural Dean. Each mission partnership has a Team Leader appointed by the Bishop from amongst the constituent clergy.[1]

In addition to the parish clergy, the Bishop of Sodor and Man licenses a small number of ordained chaplains. These include the school chaplain of King William's College where there is an elegant Anglican chapel[2] with scissor-braced roof with canopied stalls designed by James Cowle, and the hospital chaplain of the island's main Noble's Hospital, where an interdenominational chapel is staffed by the Anglican chaplain together with two colleagues, one Roman Catholic, and one free church.[3]

Early history[edit]

The Kingdom of Mann and the Isles about the year 1100. Sodor and Mann in red.

The Norwegian diocese of Sodor was formed in 1154, covering the Hebrides and the other islands along the west coast of Scotland. The name in the original Norse was Suðreyjar (Sudreys or "southern isles"), in contrast to the Norðreyjar, the "northern isles" of Orkney and Shetland. The Isle of Man was included in with these southern isles. This diocese was a suffragan of the archdiocese of Trondheim.[4]

Original Peel Cathedral

Norway controlled all these islands until 1266, when they were ceded to Scotland. The Isle of Man was detached from the Scottish islands and came under the suzerainty of the Kings of England in 1334.[4] Thereafter it was held by feudal Lords of Man (the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, from 1406 to 1736 and the Dukes of Atholl from 1736) until the lordship was purchased by the British Crown in 1765. The right to appoint the Bishop of Sodor and Man belonged to the Lords of Man, and continued to be exercised by the Dukes of Atholl after the revestment in 1765 until it was surrendered to the Crown in 1828. The Isle of Man was never incorporated into the Kingdom of England, or the United Kingdom, but is a Crown Dependency. In common with the rest of the Church of England, at the English Reformation the Diocese left the Roman Catholic Church under Henry VIII. The bishop Thomas Stanley was not a supporter of the reforms (particularly the reallocation of his Diocese from the Province of Canterbury to the Province of York in 1542) and was deprived of office by Henry, but was briefly reinstated under Mary I, who restored Stanley to office,[5] but was separated[clarification needed] once again under the religious settlement under Elizabeth I. Since the Isle of Man was not part of the Kingdom of England, the Act of Uniformity 1662 passed at the English Restoration did not apply to it, so Thomas Wilson was free to introduce worship in the Manx language during his episcopate (1697–1755), and to resolve issues of clergy discipline resulting from the Isle of Man's unique status.[6]

Usage of Sodor and Man[edit]

As stated above, the Isle of Man was included in the Southern islands ("Sudreys"); the addition of "and Man" may have been made in the 17th century in ignorance of the proper application of the name of Sodor to the bishopric of Man.[7] It is suggested that St Patrick's Isle, being the location of the cathedral for the Norse diocese of Sodor, by some confusion itself became known as Sodor.[8] By the late 16th century the terms "Sodor" and "Man" had become interchangeable, the bishopric being spoken of as that of "Sodor" or "Man" or "Sodor and Man", or sometimes all three, for the avoidance of doubt (e.g. the grant of the lordship of the Island to the Earl of Derby in 1610 included "the Patronage of the Bishopricke of the said Isle of Mann, and the Patronage of the Bishopricke of Sodor, and the Patronage of the Bishopricke of Sodor and Mann").[9]

Until 1604 the bishops signed themselves "Sodorensis"; from 1604 to 1684, sometimes they used "Soderensis" and sometimes "Sodor and Man";[4] between 1684 and 2007 all bishops signed "Sodor and Man" or "Sodor and Mann". However, the most recent bishop, Robert Paterson, signs "Sodor as Mannin", the Manx Gaelic equivalent.

Later history[edit]

The modern Peel Cathedral

The original cathedral of the Diocese of Sodor and Man was on St Patrick's Isle at Peel. This cathedral fell into disuse during the 18th century and for many years the Bishop's chapel at Bishopscourt, near Kirk Michael, served as a Pro-cathedral. This was a Gothic building, rebuilt in 1814 and again in 1858, and dedicated to St Nicholas. In 1979 Bishopscourt was sold, and the following year the parish church of St German in Peel was designated as "the Cathedral Church of St German" by Act of Tynwald.[10]

An 1836 proposal to subsume the diocese into the Diocese of Carlisle was defeated, as was the 1875 proposal that the Diocese of Liverpool (then at the planning stage, founded 1880) should include the Isle of Man.[11]

Since the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, the bishop is never a Lord Spiritual and cannot sit in the House of Lords of the United Kingdom. However he is an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man. Nevertheless, in common with other Church of England Crown Appointments, the appointment of the bishop is still made on the advice of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, even though she or he has no other authority in the Isle of Man.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mission Partnerships explained, with the legal measures, by the Diocesan Registry.
  2. ^ Chapel outlined, with pictures, at the website.
  3. ^ Hospital Chapel and current Chaplains on the Government website.
  4. ^ a b c PD-icon.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sodor and Man". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 343. 
  5. ^ Phillips, Gervase (2004). "Thomas Stanley (d. 1569), in Stanley, Edward, first Baron Monteagle (c.1460–1523)" (Subscription required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26280. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  6. ^ Watterson Troxler, Carole (2004). "Wilson, Thomas, (1663–1755)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29691. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  7. ^ A W Moore, History of the Isle of Man (London, 1909), p.178
  8. ^ A W Moore Sodor and Man (London, 1893), p.42
  9. ^ M A Mills, Ancient Ordinances and Statute Laws of the Isle of Man (Douglas, 1821) p.517
  10. ^ Cathedral Church Act 1980 (of Tynwald)
  11. ^ Bray, G. L. (2005) 'Records of Convocation: Sodor and Man 1229-1877' (London: Boydell and Brewer), p. 406.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°13′N 4°32′W / 54.217°N 4.533°W / 54.217; -4.533