Sunday, 8 March 2015

Bishops of Tonbridge and Dorking to retire

Updated Sunday evening

Brian Castle, the suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge in the diocese of Rochester, recently announced that he will retire in the autumn.

I missed the announcement, which I am told was made a couple of weeks ago. This might be because, although it is online at the bishop’s personal website, it has yet to appear on the diocesan website or, so far as I know, anywhere else.


A comment on another entry advises that Ian Brackley, the suffragan Bishop of Dorking in the diocese of Guildford, also announced his retirement last month; he will leave on 30 September 2015. Again this has not yet appeared on the diocesan website, although I have found a brief mention at the end of this item in a local paper.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 12:16pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

To lose the Dean of Rochester and now the Suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge in quick succession - it's all change among the hierarchy in the diocese of Rochester. The photograph of the Suffragan Bishop and his wife is a very jolly snap - almost demon happy.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 1:12pm GMT

I've had the privilege of knowing Bishop Brian for over 11 years, first as Church Army, then as ordinand, and finally as curate in Rochester Diocese. Very pastoral Bishop who I'm sure will be sadly missed in the Diocese. Blessings to him.

Posted by: Chris Routledge on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 2:06pm GMT

An email was sent out to all Clergy and other associated people about ten days ago, but now that I've checked you're quite right - still nothing on the Diocesan website. I understand Bishop Brian will finish at the end of October.

Posted by: David Green on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 4:16pm GMT

Apologies for "demon happy" read "demob happy"

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 7:45pm GMT

I'm wondering what special qualities must a person have to rise from Suffragan to Diocesan? Many are called but few are chosen. Both Dorking and Tonbridge have laboured long and hard as faithful servants of the Lord but neither received their own diocese, even though Dorking was acting Diocesan of Guildford several times during his long and arduous episcopal ministry. But neither, like so many other Suffragans, was offered a diocese. What particular qualities and virtues do members of the CNC look for when selecting Diocesan Bishops?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 7:32am GMT

It remains the case that a majority of nominations to diocesan sees are of bishops who have episcopal experience. I noted this when pressing for a review of senior church appointments in 2005 (leading to Talent and Calling - the first Pilling Report). If CNCs regard the suffragan pool of talent as the main fishing ground the Church needs to be very sure of the procedures for appointing suffragans. However, to begin to answer Fr David's question, clearly given the flat structure of the CoE, only some suffragans will be translated to a diocesan see. Added to that, there have been a number of other candidates appointed without prior episcopal experience recently (e.g. Peterborough, Salisbury, Lincoln, Durham (last time round), Winchester, Blackburn, St Eds & Ips and Europe) and that is before factoring in the new pool of women candidates. If anything, there have been rather more non-suffragans appointed in the last 10 years than in the previous 10. That is healthy. However, the step up to diocesan is quite steep, depending on the diocese and the experience gained as a suffragan. Suffragans who have ministered in strong (and large) dioceses with established area schemes are better prepared. Much of the CNC's discernment is around 'added value.' What will the bishop contribute to the diocese in a public sense, as a leader? What skills and experience would s/he bring to the House of Bishops? Frankly, now that candidates are interviewed, does the CNC 'see them as diocesan in the see in question?' This might sound subjective and intangible, but the process is one of prayer as well as discernment. Who is God calling?

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 10:43am GMT

I suspect the system is very unsettling for the Suffragans most obviously suitable to become a Diocesan. Several candidates are now invited for interview for each Diocesan vacancy - and each time he or she has to think him or herself fully into the possibility of the appointment for which he or she has not applied. If he or she is good, this may happen more than once or even several times. And each time (in all statistical probability) he or she then has to return to his or her own Suffragan job with continued vocational commitment.

Posted by: Peter Mullins on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 12:12pm GMT

Anthony, thank you for that very full and thoughtful answer to my original question. Your considerable knowledge and experience, which you freely and kindly share on the T. A. Blog, is always worth reading. Unlike the Prime Minster at PMQs each Wednesday, you actually answer the question being asked. For that, grateful thanks.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 12:24pm GMT

Glad to hear criteria have absolutely nothing to do with 'must be sound Evangelical and not, not, not gay or even sympathetic to gays'. Such a relief.

Posted by: John on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 6:33pm GMT

There's another issue too. it is less true than it was 10 or 20 years ago - when the Suffragan bishops in question were appointed to their roles - but it certainly used to be the case that basically a diocesan bishop could 'choose' his Suffragan rather than the person concerned having to go through all the CNC hoops. I guess that the qualities required for being chosen by an individual and being the successful candidate for a CNC process (required for diocesans) might be rather different.

Posted by: Clare on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 7:21pm GMT

The last page of the recent edition of the Diocesan Newspaper carries the news of Ian's retirement.

Posted by: Nick Clarke on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 10:23pm GMT

How to become a Diocesan Bishop or even how to bag the Top Job:-

After a Miniscule time as Bishop of Durham Justin Welby was invited to attend for interview by the CNC. Apparently he was asked "Why do you want to be Archbishop of Canterbury?" He replied - "I Don't!" And was offered the job.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 8:15am GMT


The CNC procedure *only* applies to diocesan bishops. It is still the case that suffragan/area bishops are selected by the diocesan with or without the advice/assistance of a group of people selected by the diocesan from the diocese.

Posted by: RPNewark on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 8:42am GMT

So it does Nick. You can read it online here:

But this is the sort of thing that I would expect to find on the News page of the diocesan website.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 10:12am GMT

The process for nominating suffragan bishops is set out in a guidance note dated January 2009 and which appears not to have been revised since then.
Go to:
My sense is that the procedure is followed by each diocesan bishop reasonably closely. However, it would be an interesting piece of work to review the operation of the guidance. For example some bishops are less transparent with the identity and workings of their advisory groups, which ought to be reported to their Bishop's Councils. The archbishop of the province concerned has an important role, including being satisfied that the process has been handled according to the guidance and with an eye to best practice. The advent of women becoming candidates for every vacancy from now on suggests that there will be greater scrutiny of the process by the media and others, both within and without a diocese, so diocesans might usefully be reminded of the fact that transparency and accountability will not automatically be assumed in the absence of clear evidence!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 1:18pm GMT

Hmm, interesting that people are worried the criteria is that you must be evangelical... Like some many other bishops, these are both Cuddesdon men!

Posted by: Rev David on Friday, 13 March 2015 at 11:06pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.