Tim Thornton (bishop)

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Tim Thornton
Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop to the Forces and Bishop for the Falkland Islands
Bishop at Lambeth at the 2019 Blessing the Thames Ceremony (cropped).jpg
Thornton at the 2019 Blessing the Thames ceremony on London Bridge
Church Church of England
In office6 September 2017 2021
Predecessor Nigel Stock
Other post(s) Bishop of Sherborne (2001–2008)
Bishop of Truro (2009–2017)
Lord Spiritual (2013–2017)
Consecration21 October 2001
by  George Carey
Personal details
Born (1957-04-14) 14 April 1957 (age 66)
Denomination Anglican
Residence Lambeth Palace
Alma mater University of Southampton
King's College London

Timothy Martin Thornton (born 14 April 1957) is a retired British Anglican bishop. His final post was as Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop to the Forces, and Bishop for the Falkland Islands (20172021). [1] He was previously the area Bishop of Sherborne from 2001 to 2008, the diocesan Bishop of Truro (2009–2017), and a Member of the House of Lords (2013–2017). [2]


Early life and education

Thornton was born on 14 April 1957. [3] He was educated at Devonport High School for Boys, an all-boys grammar school in Plymouth, Devon. [4] He studied theology at the University of Southampton, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1978. [4] [5] That year, he entered St Stephen's House, Oxford, an Anglo-Catholic theological college, to train for the priesthood. [5] He later studied at King's College London graduating with an MA in 1997. [6]

Ordained ministry

He was ordained in the Church of England: made a deacon at Petertide 1980 (29 June) [7] and ordained a priest the Petertide following (28 June 1981), both times by Colin James, Bishop of Wakefield at Wakefield Cathedral. [8] He began his ministry with a curacy at Todmorden and then as priest-in-charge at Walsden. He then became bishop's chaplain to David Hope: successively in the Diocese of Wakefield and the Diocese of London. From 1994 until 1998 he was Principal of the North Thames Ministerial Training Course. His final post before his ordination to the episcopate was as the vicar of Kensington.

Episcopal ministry

On 21 October 2001, Thornton was consecrated a bishop by George Carey, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, at Southwark Cathedral. [9] From 2001 to 2008, he served as the Bishop of Sherborne, an area bishop of the Diocese of Salisbury. [10] [11] He was installed as Bishop of Truro at Truro Cathedral on 7 March 2009.

In 2013, Thornton became eligible to join the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords upon the retirement of Nigel McCulloch, the then Bishop of Manchester, as the next longest serving diocesan bishop. [4] [12] He officially became a Lord spiritual on 31 January 2013; [12] however, he did not take his seat until he was introduced to the House in April 2013. [4]

On 4 April 2017, it was announced that he was to resign his see to become Bishop at Lambeth, the Archbishop of Canterbury's episcopal chief of staff at Lambeth Palace, in September 2017. [13] Thornton retired as Bishop at Lambeth effective 30 September 2021, [14] having already resigned as Bishop to the Forces and for the Falklands his successors in these two posts were each commissioned on 20 September 2021. [15] [16]

Since 2017, he has been an honorary assistant bishop in the dioceses of London, Portsmouth, and Southwark. He also holds permission to officiate in the Diocese of Salisbury. [17]

Other work

Thornton has chaired the Board of Trustees of The Children's Society from 2010. He was a trustee of the Church Army 2000–2008. He is a trustee of the following Cornish charities: Volunteer Cornwall, BF Adventure (formerly Bishops Forum), Cornwall Community Foundation. [18]

In 2015, Thornton was the Anglican delegate to the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the (Roman Catholic) Synod of Bishops.

Elliott Review controversy

In March 2016, Thornton was cited in a Guardian report [19] on the Elliott Review as one of several senior figures who had received a disclosure of child sex abuse but had "no recollection". The review, led by Ian Elliott, found this lack of memory difficult to countenance. "What is surprising about this is that he (the survivor) would be speaking about a serious and sadistic sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a senior member of the hierarchy. The fact that these conversations could be forgotten about is hard to accept", Elliott wrote. The survivor had tried repeatedly to alert the archbishop's office to critical concerns arising from these denials, but was ignored on the instruction of the church's insurers. [20] The resulting Elliott Review led to damning headlines across the UK and world media [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] and kickstarted significant cultural and structural change in the Church of England's response to sex abuse cases. The review called for all bishops to be retrained. [27] [28] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reportedly said "the situation is embarrassing and uncomfortable for the church". [29] In an open letter the survivor urged Thornton to lead a call for repentance across the House of Bishops. [30] [31]

From October 2016, ThorntonStyle sat on the Church of England's National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) [32] [33]

Personal life

Thornton is married to Siân, one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Education (HMI) in England. [4] [34] Together, they have two adult children. [4] [35]


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  1. Lambeth Palace — Tim Thornton commissioned as new Bishop at Lambeth (Accessed 9 September 2017)
  2. Parliament: New Lords, 31 January 2013.
  3. "Thornton, Timothy Martin" . Who's Who . Vol. 2017 (November 2016 online ed.). A & C Black. Retrieved 31 May 2017.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Truro Bishop Tim takes up his seat in Lords". Western Morning News. 23 April 2013. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Timothy Martin Thornton" . Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing . Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  6. Debrett's People of Today London, Debrett's, 2008 ISBN   978-1-870520-95-9
  7. "Petertide ordinations" . Church Times . No. 6125. 4 July 1980. p. 5. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 7 May 2019 via UK Press Online archives.
  8. "Petertide ordinations" . Church Times . No. 6177. 3 July 1981. p. 16. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 7 May 2019 via UK Press Online archives.
  9. "News (in brief): Say what you really think, two new bishops told" . Church Times . No. 7236. 26 October 2001. p. 4. ISSN   0009-658X . Retrieved 11 October 2015 via UK Press Online archives.
  10. Anglican communion
  11. Official announcement Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. 1 2 "Bishop of Truro". House of Lords. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  13. "Bishop Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth". The Archbishop of Canterbury. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  14. "Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth". The Archbishop of Canterbury. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  15. "Bishop Hugh announced as Bishop to the Armed Forces". Truro Diocese. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  16. Twitter Diocese of Southwark (Accessed 29 September 2021)
  17. "Thornton, Rt Rev. Timothy Martin (born 14 April 1957), Bishop at Lambeth, 2017–21; Bishop to the Forces, 2017–21; Bishop for the Falkland Islands, 2017–21; an Honorary Assistant Bishop: Diocese of London, since 2017; Diocese of Portsmouth, since 2017; Diocese of Southwark, since 2017; Permission to Officiate, Diocese of Salisbury". Who's Who 2023 . Oxford University Press. 1 December 2022. Retrieved 12 June 2023.
  18. UK Parliament website: Biographies of Peers
  19. "Damning report reveals Church of England's failure to act on abuse". The Guardian. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  20. "Church cut contact with child abuse victim on order of insurers". National Secular Society. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  21. "Welby's staff ignored abuse to save money". The Times. 16 March 2016. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  22. "Church of England figures ignored 'sadistic' abuse of 15-year-old boy by senior priest for 40 years, report says" . The Independent. 15 March 2016. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
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  30. "Joe's letter to the House of Bishops of the Church of England". Surviving Church. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
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  32. "National Safeguarding Steering Group" (PDF). Church of England. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  33. "November 20 2017 – National Safeguarding Steering Group [NSSG] and National Safeguarding Panel [NSP] – Church of England". The Bell Society. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  34. Truro Cathedral News
  35. Number 10 — Suffragan See of Sherborne Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of Sherborne
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Truro
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop at Lambeth
Emma Ineson
as Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Bishop to the Forces
Hugh Nelson,
Bishop of St Germans
Bishop for the Falkland Islands
Jonathan Clark,
Bishop of Croydon