Dean of the Chapel Royal

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The Dean of the Chapel Royal, in any kingdom, can be the title of an official charged with oversight of that kingdom's chapel royal, the ecclesiastical establishment which is part of the royal household and ministers to it.



In England, the Dean of the Chapels Royal was appointed by royal warrant and appointed its officers and staff. The office of dean (dating from 1312) has been by custom held by the Bishop of London since 1748 ( or 1723, see below). In practice, the chapel, its choir, and the various chapel buildings associated with it come under the oversight of the Sub-Dean, who is the Queen's residential chaplain.

As in 2019 the Chapels Royal in England consisted of: The Queen’s Chapel; the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace; the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace; the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula (Tower of London); the Chapel of St John the Evangelist (Tower of London); and The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy. [1]

Office holders

Edward III (1327)
Richard II (1377)
Henry IV (1399)
Henry V (1413)
Henry VI (1422)
Edward IV (1461);Henry VI (restored 1470)
Edward IV (restored 1471)
Richard III (1483)
Henry VII (1485)
Henry VIII (1509); Edward VI (1547); Mary I (1553)
Elizabeth I (1558)
James I (1603)
Charles I (1625)
Commonwealth (1649)
Charles II (1660)
James II (1685)
William III (1689)
Anne (1702)
George I (1714)
George II (1727)
Elizabeth II (1952)

Following his 2017 retirement as Bishop of London, Richard Chartres remained as Dean while Sarah Mullally became accustomed to her various duties and responsibilities as Bishop of London; [4] as such he assisted at the Baptism of Prince Louis on 9 July 2018 [5] and the traditional Epiphany service at the Chapel Royal on 6 January 2019. [6] Chartres retired as Dean of the Chapel Royal in July 2019. [1]


  • Hillebrand, Harold (1920). The Early History of the Chapel Royal. Modern Philology. p. 243.
  • "The Chapel Royal Deans and Sub-Deans" . Retrieved 6 April 2012.


In Scotland, the title first appears in the fifteenth century, when it may have referred to a prebend in the church of St Mary on the Rock, St Andrews. In 1501 James IV founded a new Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle, but from 1504 onwards the deanery was held by successive Bishops of Galloway with the title of Bishop of the Chapel Royal and authority over all the royal palaces within Scotland. The deanery was annexed to the bishopric of Dunblane in 1621, and the Chapel Royal was removed to Holyrood.

The office of Dean was suppressed with the abolition of prelacy in 1689, and the revenues of the Chapel Royal reverted to the Crown. Grants from these revenues were made to individual Church of Scotland ministers and from 1727 onwards part was allocated to three royal chaplains, known collectively as the Deans of the Chapel Royal. Replacement of these chaplains by professors of the Divinity Faculties in the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews took place between 1860 and 1868. In 1886 the office of Dean was revived and united by royal warrant to that of Dean of the Thistle, eventually being separated in 1969. Under the 1886 royal warrant, the Dean is also titular Abbot of Crossraguel and Abbot of Dundrennan. [7]

Office holders since revival


The Chapel Royal (Irish: Séipéal Ríoga) in Dublin Castle was the official Church of Ireland chapel of the Household of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1814 until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1831, the principal chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant was usually styled Dean of the Chapel Royal.

Office holders


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  1. 1 2 "Dean of Her Majesty's Chapels Royal". The Royal Family. 15 May 2019. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  2. Griffiths, Ralph. The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422-1461. p. 302.
  3. 1 2 3 Griffiths, Ralph. The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422-1461. p. 304.
  4. Mullally, Sarah (7 March 2018). "God is faithful". Contemplation in the shadow of a carpark. Archived from the original on 7 November 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  5. Court Circular, 9 July 2018
  6. Court Circular, 6 January 2019
  7. Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia of the Laws of Scotland, Volume 7: The Crown, paragraph 838.
  8. Fasti Ecclesiastae Scoticana vol.5 p.4
  9. "No. 44902". The London Gazette . 22 July 1969. p. 7525.
  10. "No. 46204". The London Gazette . 8 February 1974. p. 1747.
  11. "No. 48732". The London Gazette . 11 September 1981. p. 11553.
  12. "Court Circular". The Times. 5 July 2013. p. 53.
  13. "July 2, 2019 | Register | the Times". The Times . Archived from the original on 5 July 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  14. Hugh Jackson Lawlor, ‘The Chapel of Dublin Castle, with Note on the Plate of the Chapel Royal’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 13, no. 1 (1923), 34–73 (68–71).

See also