Alan Webster (priest)

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Alan Webster

Dean of St Paul's
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of London
In office1978 – 1987
Predecessor Martin Sullivan
Successor Eric Evans
Other post(s)
Personal details
Alan Brunskill Webster

1 July 1918
Died3 September 2007(2007-09-03) (aged 89)
Denomination Anglicanism
Education Shrewsbury School
Alma mater The Queen's College, Oxford

Alan Brunskill Webster KCVO (1 July 1918 3 September 2007) was a British Anglican priest. He had a varied career, serving in parish roles, heading a theological college, and leading two cathedrals as their dean. As Dean of Norwich from 1970 to 1978, he modernised the cathedral and its services, and opened up its buildings to the public. He ended his ministry as Dean of St Paul's, between 1978 and 1987, during which the cathedral saw the Wedding of Charles and Diana, and the so-called 'Victory Service' following the Falklands War. [1] [2]


Early life and education

Webster was born on 1 July 1918. [3] His father, the Reverend John Webster, was the vicar of St Margaret's Church in Wrenbury, Cheshire, where he lived until 1935. [4] He was educated at Shrewsbury School, then an all-boys public school in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. [5] He studied at The Queen's College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1939: as per tradition, his BA was promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) degree. [6] [7] He attended Westcott House, Cambridge for training for Holy Orders from 1941 to 1942, and was later awarded a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) by Queen's in 1954. [7]

Ordained ministry

Webster was ordained in 1942 [8] and began his ordained ministry with curacies in Attercliffe and Arbourthorne. He was then chaplain and vice principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, and then the vicar of Barnard Castle. From 1959 to 1970, he served as Warden of Lincoln Theological College.

In 1970, Webster was appointed the Dean of Norwich. During his time leading Norwich Cathedral, he modernised and opened up the cathedral and its close to the public: he introduced a nave altar for the Alternative Service Book (1980) service of Holy Communion, toilets and an exhibition space within the cathedral building, and converting some of the cathedral's houses into a homeless shelter, an old peoples home and a study centre. [9] He founded Norwich Night Shelter in 1973, and Cathedral Camps in 1981. [5]

In 1978, he moved to the Diocese of London where he had been appointed Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. He organised and presided at the wedding service of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. [10] He was in charge of the July 1982 'Victory Service' following the Falklands War, and attempted to include a Spanish-language translation of the Lord's Prayer into the service. [11] He retired from full-time ministry in 1987 and was appointed Dean Emeritus. [5]

His writings included Joshua Watson (1954), Broken Bones May Joy (1968), Julian of Norwich (1974) and Reaching for Reality (2002).

Webster died on 3 September 2007. [9]

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  1. The Deans, T.R. Beeson, London, SCM, 2004, ISBN   0-334-02987-2
  2. Church Times
  3. Who was Who 1897-2007 , London, A & C Black, 2007 ISBN   978-0-19-954087-7
  4. Local History Group, Latham FA (ed), Wrenbury and Marbury, p67 (The Local History Group; 1999), ISBN   0-9522284-5-9
  5. 1 2 3 "Webster, Very Rev. Alan Brunskill, (1 July 1918–3 Sept. 2007), Dean of St Paul's, 1978–87, then Dean Emeritus". Who Was Who . Oxford University Press. 1 December 2016. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U39173. ISBN   978-0-19-954089-1 . Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  6. University News Scholarships, The Times, 21 December 1936, p19
  7. 1 2 "Alan Brunskill Webster" . Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing . Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  8. Crockford's Clerical Directory Lambeth, Church House, 1976 ISBN   0-19-200008-X
  9. 1 2 Edwards, David L. (18 September 2011). "The Very Rev Alan Webster" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  10. "Very Rev Alan Webster". The Telegraph. 6 September 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  11. Swinford, Steven (28 December 2012). "Queen asked to intervene over Falklands Memorial Service". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
Church of England titles
Preceded by Dean of Norwich
1970 1978
Succeeded by
Preceded by Dean of St Paul's
1978 1987
Succeeded by