Bishop of Durham

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Bishop of Durham
Coat of arms
Paul Butler
Ecclesiastical province York
First holder Aidan
Aldhun (first Bishop of Durham)
Established635 (at Lindisfarne)
995 (translation to Durham)
Diocese Durham
Cathedral Durham Cathedral (since 995)
St Mary and St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street (882–995)
Lindisfarne (635–875)
Lord Crew's arms has a Baron's coronet, but as Bishop of Durham he showed an Earl's coronet too Arms of Lord Crewe impaling Bishop of Durham.jpg
Lord Crew's arms has a Baron's coronet, but as Bishop of Durham he showed an Earl's coronet too

The Bishop of Durham is the Anglican bishop responsible for the Diocese of Durham in the Province of York. The diocese is one of the oldest in England and its bishop is a member of the House of Lords. Paul Butler has been the Bishop of Durham since his election was confirmed at York Minster on 20 January 2014. [1] The previous bishop was Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop is one of two (the other is the Bishop of Bath and Wells) who escort the sovereign at the coronation.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Diocese of Durham Church of England diocese

The Diocese of Durham is a Church of England diocese, based in Durham, and covering the historic County Durham. It was created in AD 635 as the Diocese of Lindisfarne. The cathedral is Durham Cathedral and the bishop is the Bishop of Durham who used to live at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, and still has his office there. The diocese's administrative centre, the Diocesan Office, is located at Cuthbert House, Stonebridge just outside Durham City. This was opened in 2015.


He is officially styled The Right Reverend (Christian Name), by Divine Providence Lord Bishop of Durham, but this full title is rarely used. In signatures, the bishop's family name is replaced by Dunelm, from the Latin name for Durham (the Latinised form of Old English Dunholm). In the past, Bishops of Durham varied their signatures between Dunelm and the French Duresm. Prior to 1836, the Bishop of Durham was a prince-bishop and had significant temporal powers over the Liberty of Durham and later the County Palatine of Durham.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Prince-bishop bishop who is a territorial Prince of the Church

A prince-bishop is a bishop who is also the civil ruler of some secular principality and sovereignty. Thus the principality or prince-bishopric ruled politically by a prince-bishop could wholly or largely overlap with his diocesan jurisdiction, since some parts of his diocese, even the city of his residence, could be exempt from his civil rule, obtaining the status of free imperial city. If the episcopal see is an archbishopric, the correct term is prince-archbishop; the equivalent in the regular (monastic) clergy is prince-abbot. A prince-bishop is usually considered an elected monarch.

The bishop lived in Durham Castle from its construction in the 11th century. In 1832, Auckland Castle became the official residence of the Bishops of Durham until July 2012 when ownership of the castle was transferred over to the Auckland Castle Trust, a charitable foundation with the aim of beginning a major restoration of the grounds and castle and creating permanent exhibitions on the history of Christianity in Britain and the North East. [2] The bishop continues to have offices in Auckland Castle but no longer resides there. [3]

Durham Castle Grade I listed historic house museum in Durham, United Kingdom

Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England, which has been wholly occupied since 1840 by University College, Durham. It is open to the general public to visit, but only through guided tours, since it is in use as a working building and is home to over 100 students. The castle stands on top of a hill above the River Wear on Durham's peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral.

Auckland Castle castle in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, England

Auckland Castle, also known as Auckland Palace and locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace, is located in Bishop Auckland, its neighbouring town in County Durham, England.


The Anglo-Saxon dioceses before 925 England diocese map pre-925.svg
The Anglo-Saxon dioceses before 925

The Bishop of Lindisfarne is an episcopal title which takes its name after the tidal island of Lindisfarne, which lies just off the northeast coast of Northumberland, England. The title was first used by the Anglo-Saxons between the 7th and 10th centuries. In the reign of Æthelstan (924–939) Wigred, thought by Simon Keynes to have been Bishop of Chester-le-Street, attested royal charters. [4] According to George Molyneaux, the church of St Cuthbert "was in all probability the greatest landholder between the Tees and the Tyne". [5] Traditionally, following the chronology of the twelfth-century writer Symeon of Durham, historians have believed that the body of St Cuthbert and centre of the diocese lay at Chester-le-Street from the ninth century until 995, but recent research has suggested that the bishops may have been based at Norham on the River Tweed until after 1013. [6] The title of "bishop of Lindisfarne" is now used by the Roman Catholic Church for a titular see.

Episcopal polity Hierarchical form of church governance

An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. It is the structure used by many of the major Christian Churches and denominations, such as the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Anglican, and Lutheran churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages.

Tidal island Land which is connected to the mainland by a causeway which is covered by high tide and exposed at low tide

A tidal island is a piece of land that is connected to the mainland by a natural or man-made causeway that is exposed at low tide and submerged at high tide. Because of the mystique surrounding tidal islands many of them have been sites of religious worship, such as Mont Saint-Michel with its Benedictine Abbey. Tidal islands are also commonly the sites of fortresses because of their natural fortifications.

Lindisfarne Tidal island in North East England

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, also known simply as Holy Island, is a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, which constitutes the civil parish of Holy Island in Northumberland. Holy Island has a recorded history from the 6th century AD; it was an important centre of Celtic Christianity under Saints Aidan of Lindisfarne, Cuthbert, Eadfrith of Lindisfarne and Eadberht of Lindisfarne. After the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished. A small castle was built on the island in 1550.

The Anglo-Saxon bishops of Lindisfarne were ordinaries of several early medieval episcopal sees (and dioceses) in Northumbria and pre-Conquest England. The first such see was founded at Lindisfarne in 635 by Saint Aidan. [7]

Episcopal see the main administrative seat held by a bishop

An episcopal see is, in the usual meaning of the phrase, the area of a bishop's ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Kingdom of Northumbria Medieval kingdom of the Angles

The Kingdom of Northumbria was a medieval Anglian kingdom in what is now Northern England and south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old English Norþan-hymbre meaning "the people or province north of the Humber", which reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary. Northumbria started to consolidate into one kingdom in the early seventh century, when the two earlier core territories of Deira and Bernicia entered into a dynastic union. At its height, the kingdom extended from the Humber, Peak District and the River Mersey on the south to the Firth of Forth on the north. Northumbria ceased to be an independent kingdom in the mid-tenth century, though a rump Earldom of Bamburgh survived around Bernicia in the north, later to be absorbed into the mediaeval kingdoms of Scotland and England.

Kingdom of England historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

From the 7th century onwards, in addition to his spiritual authority, the Bishops of Lindisfarne, and then Durham, also acted as the civil ruler of the region as the lord of the liberty of Durham, with local authority equal to that of the king. The bishop appointed all local officials and maintained his own court. After the Norman Conquest, this power was retained by the bishop and was eventually recognised with the designation of the region as the County Palatine of Durham. As holder of this office, the bishop was both the earl of the county and bishop of the diocese. Though the term 'prince-bishop' has become a common way of describing the role of the bishop prior to 1836, the term was unknown in Medieval England. [8] Except for a brief period of suppression during the English Civil War, the bishopric retained this temporal power until it was abolished by the Durham (County Palatine) Act 1836.

The Liberty of Durham was a Saxon regional division of the North of England under the control of the Bishop of Durham.

The County Palatine of Durham was an area in the North of England that was controlled by the Bishop of Durham.

An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon in origin, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced by duke (hertig/hertug/hertog). In later medieval Britain, it became the equivalent of the continental count. However, earlier in Scandinavia, jarl could also mean a sovereign prince. For example, the rulers of several of the petty kingdoms of Norway had the title of jarl and in many cases they had no less power than their neighbours who had the title of king. Alternative names for the rank equivalent to "earl/count" in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as the hakushaku of the post-restoration Japanese Imperial era.

List of bishops

Early Medieval bishops

Bishops of Lindisfarne
635651 Aidan Saint Aidan.
651661 Finan Saint Finan.
661664 Colmán Saint Colmán.
664 Tuda Saint Tuda.
In 664 the diocese was merged to York by Wilfrid (who succeeded Tuda following his death), leaving one large diocese in the large northern Kingdom of Northumbria.
The diocese was reinstated in 678 by Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury following Wilfrid's banishment from Northumbria by King King Ecgfrith. Its new seat was initially (at least in part) at Hexham (until a new diocese was created there in 680).
678685 Eata of Hexham Saint Eata.
685687 Cuthbert Saint Cuthbert.
688698 Eadberht Saint Eadberht.
698721 Eadfrith Saint Eadfrith.
721740 Æthelwold Saint Æthelwold.
740780 Cynewulf
780803 Higbald
803821 Egbert
821830 Heathwred
830845 Ecgred
845854 Eanbert
854875 Eardulf
883889 Eardulf
900 c. 915 Cutheard
c. 915c. 925 Tilred
c. 925maybe 942? Wilgred
maybe 942?unknown Uchtred
unknown, expelled after 6 months Sexhelm
before 946maybe 968? Aldred
maybe 968?maybe 968? Ælfsige Called "Bishop of St Cuthbert".
990995 Aldhun According to the traditional account, the see was moved to Durham.
In 995, the King had paid the Danegeld to the Danish and Norwegian Kings and peace was restored. According to the legend, Aldhun was on his way to reestablish the see at Lindisfarne when he received a divine vision that the body of St Cuthbert should be laid to rest in Durham.
Source(s): [9]
Bishops of Durham
10211041 Edmund
10411042 Eadred
10421056 Æthelric
10561071 Æthelwine
Source(s): [10]

Pre-Reformation prince-bishops

Bishops of Durham
10711080 William Walcher
10811096 William de St-Calais
10991128 Ranulf Flambard
11331140 Geoffrey Rufus
11411143 William Cumin
11431153 William of St. Barbara
11531195 Hugh de Puiset
11971208 Philip of Poitou
12091213 Richard Poore Election quashed by Pope Innocent III (who was quarrelling with King John); later elected and consecrated.
12141214 John de Gray Died before consecration.
12151215 Morgan Election quashed.
12171226 Richard Marsh
12261227 William Scot Election quashed.
12291237 Richard Poore Translated from Salisbury.
12371240 Thomas de Melsonby Resigned before consecration.
12411249 Nicholas Farnham
12491260 Walter of Kirkham
12601274 Robert Stitchill
12741283 Robert of Holy Island
12841310 Antony Bek Also Titular Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1306 to 1311 (the only English person ever to hold this post).
13111316 Richard Kellaw In the ensuing vacancy, Thomas de Charlton, John Walwayn and John de Kynardesley were nominated by Edward II, Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford and Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster respectively, but the chapter elected Henry de Stamford OSB on 6 November 1316. That election was never confirmed, but quashed by Pope John XXII on 10 December.
13171333 Lewis de Beaumont
13331345 Richard de Bury
13451381 Thomas Hatfield
13821388 John Fordham Translated to Ely.
13881406 Walter Skirlaw Translated from Bath & Wells.
14061437 Thomas Langley
14371457 Robert Neville Translated from Salisbury
14571476 Lawrence Booth Translated to York.
14761483 William Dudley
14841494 John Sherwood
14941501 Richard Foxe Translated from Bath & Wells, later translated to Winchester.
15021505 William Senhouse Translated from Carlisle.
15071508 Christopher Bainbridge Translated to York.
15091523 Thomas Ruthall
15231529 Thomas Wolsey Archbishop of York. Held Durham in commendam .
15301559 Cuthbert Tunstall Translated from London.
Source(s): [10]

Post-Reformation prince-bishops

Bishops of Durham
15301559 CuthbertTunstall.jpg Cuthbert Tunstall
15611576 James Pilkington print.jpg James Pilkington
15771587 Fond blanc.svg Richard Barnes Translated from Carlisle.
15891595 MatthewHutton (1529-1606).jpg Matthew Hutton Translated to York.
15951606 Tobie (or Tobias) Matthew from NPG.jpg Tobias Matthew Translated to York.
16061617 Bp William James.jpg William James
16171627 Richard Neile portrait.jpg Richard Neile Translated from Lincoln, later translated to Winchester.
16271628 George Mountaigne DD.jpg George Montaigne Translated from London, later translated to York.
16281632 Bp John Howson.jpg John Howson Translated from Oxford
16321659 Thomas Morton portrait.jpg Thomas Morton Translated from Lichfield.
16601672 Cosin.jpg John Cosin
16741722 Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew from NPG.jpg Nathaniel Crew Translated from Oxford.
17221730 William Talbot by Kneller.jpg William Talbot Translated from Salisbury.
17301750 EdwardChandler.jpg Edward Chandler Translated from Lichfield.
17501752 Joseph Butler, Bp of Bristol.jpg Joseph Butler Translated from Bristol.
17521771 Bp Richard Trevor.jpg Richard Trevor Translated from St David's.
17711787 John Egerton Ep Dunelm.jpg John Egerton Translated from Lichfield.
17871791 Fond blanc.svg Thomas Thurlow Translated from Lincoln.
17911826 Shute Barrington by Lawrence.jpg Shute Barrington Translated from Salisbury.
18261836 William Van Mildert by Thomas Lawrence.jpg William Van Mildert Translated from Llandaff.
Source(s): [10]

Late modern bishops (since 1836)

Bishops of Durham
18361856 Edward Maltby.jpg Edward Maltby Translated from Chichester.
18561860 AbpCharlesThomasLongley.jpg Charles Longley Translated from Ripon, later translated to York, then to Canterbury.
18601861 Bishop HM Villiers.jpg Henry Montagu Villiers Translated from Carlisle.
18611879 Charles Baring portrait.jpg Charles Baring Translated from Gloucester and Bristol.
18791889 Joseph Barber Lightfoot by WB Richmond (crop).jpg J. B. Lightfoot Previously Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
18901901 Brooke Foss Westcott NPG.jpg Brooke Foss Westcott Previously Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
19011920 Handley-Moule.jpg Handley Moule Previously Norrisian Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
19201939 Hensley circa 1900.jpg Hensley Henson Translated from Hereford.
19391952 Fond blanc.svg Alwyn Williams Translated to Winchester.
19521956 Michael Ramsey 1974.jpg Michael Ramsey Translated to York, then to Canterbury.
19561966 Fond blanc.svg Maurice Harland Translated from Lincoln.
19661972 IanRamsey.jpg Ian Ramsey Previously Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at Oxford.
19731983 John Stapylton Habgood (1981).jpg John Habgood Translated to York.
19841994 Fond blanc.svg David Jenkins Previously Professor of Theology University of Leeds
19942003 Fond blanc.svg Michael Turnbull Translated from Rochester
20032010 NTWright071220.jpg N. T. Wright Previously Dean of Lichfield; returned to academia.
20112013 Archbishop of Canterbury (32195477582) (cropped).jpg Justin Welby Translated to Canterbury. [11]
2014incumbent Fond blanc.svg Paul Butler Previously Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. [12]
Source(s): [10]

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  1. Archbishop of York – Bishop of Durham Election Confirmed (Accessed 20 January 2014)
  2. "Positive Developments at Auckland Castle" . Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  3. "Our Plans". Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  4. Keynes, Atlas, Table XXXVII
  5. Molyneaux 2015, p. 30.
  6. Woolf 2018, pp. 232-33.
  7. Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ancient Diocese and Monastery of Lindisfarne"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.
  8. Liddy, Christian D. (2008). The Bishopric of Durham in the Late Middle Ages. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. p. 2. ISBN   978-1-84383-377-2. The term 'prince-bishop' did not exist in medieval England. It is a literal translation of the German compound Fürstbischof.
  9. Fryde et al. 2003, pp. 214–215 and 219.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Historical successions: Durham (including precussor offices)". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  11. Diocese of Durham – New Bishop Announced
  12. "Election of Paul Butler as 74th Bishop of Durham confirmed in service" . Retrieved 20 January 2014.