Thinking Anglicans

Largest Diocese – is it really West Yorkshire and the Dales?

The new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales claims to be the largest diocese in England by area with an area of 2425 square miles.

History will be made on Easter Day, April 20th, when the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales is created, the first new diocese in the Church of England since 1929, and, at 2,425 square miles, the largest diocese in England by area.

The same figure can be found on pages 9 and 31 of the statement of need for the new diocese.

But table 1 of Statistics For Mission 2012 lists four dioceses with an area larger than this.

diocese    area (sq miles)
Lincoln 2670
York 2660
Exeter 2580
Carlisle 2480

However, we understand that the total land area of the new diocese is actually 2630 square miles. This makes the diocese the third largest in terms of size after Lincoln and York (though there is not much in it!).

Another error is that the previous new diocese in the Church of England (Derby) was created in 1927 and not 1929.

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Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Bet it’s not as big as Moray, Ross & Caithness.

English amateurs!

Father David
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Father David

Although the population of the new diocese is greater but more concentrated in urban areas the area to be covered is, as you point out, similar in size to mainly rural Lincolnshire and Cumbria. Both the dioceses of Carlisle and Lincoln manage with just two bishops – Carlisle and Penrith for Cumbria and Lincoln and Grimsby (now that the See of Grantham is defunct) for Lincolnshire. Yet how come the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales will eventually have no fewer than five pointy hats – Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Ripon and Wakefield?

Janet Henderson
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Janet Henderson

I am wondering if the new Archdeaconry of Richmond and Craven is the largest in the country? I think it might be a case of ‘the largest if you flatten it out’, the Pennines running right down its centre!

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Will make for interesting playground bragging at the next House of Bishops. Mine’s a bigger diocese than yours; no it isn’t!

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

“English amateurs!”

Indeed. According to the Anglican Church Directory (Anglican Church of Canada), the Diocese of the Arctic is 1,500,000 square miles.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

The Diocese of North Western Australia claims to be the biggest land area of any Anglican diocese, with over 2 million square kilometres. Into that area they squeeze 150,000 people, and 18 parishes!
Despite their claim, I expect there may be even bigger ones, perhaps in Canada or Asia.

Father David
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Father David

Well Janet, if it is a matter of flattening out then surely the diocese of Carlisle will be by far the biggest containing as it does Scafell Pike, Skiddaw, Blencathra, Helvellyn and all the other Cumbrian mountains of the Lake District National Park. It would certainly beat the diocese of Lincoln where the Lincolnshire Fens are already as flat as the proverbial Shrove Tuesday delicacy. Even flattening out the Lincolnshire Edge and the Wolds would be no competition for Cumberland, Westmoreland and North Lancashire aka Cumbria.
So Anthony, + James Carliol’s is certainly the biggest!

Pam
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Pam

I guess the Anglican diocese of North West Australia, tiptoeing in at a mere 2 million square kilometres, isn’t worth mentioning?

Malcolm French+
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I’ve been incumbent o parishes bigger than any English diocese. (In fact, I think I was incumbent of a parish larger than either English province.)

Just sayin’.

Father David
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Father David

I bet the diocese of the Arctic, big as it is, has more polar bears than people. Similarly, the diocese of Carlisle probably has more sheep than people, or am I thinking of Wales? A mere English Province Malcolm? I’ve recently officiated at the Requiem Mass of a priest who for a time served in the diocese of Perth in Western Australia and his parish was bigger than the area covered by the entire Church of England but worry not, he owned a bicycle. So, we all now know which are the largest dioceses in the CofE but which are… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

> will eventually have no fewer than five pointy hats

It’s all about the reduction of overheads, doncha know…

Peter
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Peter

A few years ago I read the obituary of a Priest in the Diocese of Europe. If I remember correctly his parish was Finland, Mongolia, and the entire Soviet Union.

Kennedy
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Kennedy

I bet the diocese of the Arctic, big as it is, has more polar bears than people…

In the same way as Scotland has more pandas[2] than Tory MPs[1].

[2] at Edinburgh Zoo
[1] at the other zoo in Westminster (well, that’s what Prime Minister’s Questions sounds like.)

Alastair Newman
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The really striking thing in those statistics for me is at page 17 in the figures for population per church and “Christian Population” per church for each of the dioceses. That there can be a factor of ten difference between the lowest (Christian) population per church (Hereford diocese in both cases) and the highest (London and Liverpool respectively) is truly astonishing.

I’m not sure how that can be sustainable…

Peter Denis
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Peter Denis

A former Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Diocese of Montreal, Michael Pitts, told me that he once was Chaplain to the British Embassy in Moscow, and that his ‘parish’ extended from Helsinki to Ulan Bator! Tough to get around on a bicycle in winter.

Dan BD
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Fr David, I doubt that “his parish was bigger than the area covered by the entire Church of England”, since – as many of us seem to have forgotten – the CofE includes the Diocese in Europe, which, if included must surely win “whose is bigger” every time?

Father David
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Father David

Dan, I stand corrected. Let us say that his parish in Oz was bigger than the Church of England minus the diocese of Europe. It’s a long way to Vladivostok to be sure.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

And to correct the other statement, the previous holder of the youngest diocese in the CofE is not Derby at all, but also the Diocese in Europe, created not in 1929 or even in 1927, but in 1980.

Malcolm FRench+
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The Diocese of the Arctic claims 4 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles), although that would not all be land since much of the diocese is an archipelago and it encompassed all (or at least most) of Hudson’s Bay.

My first parish was called The Greater Parish of Oxbow. To this day I wonder where the Lesser Parish of Oxbow is, but in any event … I occasionally mused (in jest) about taking Malcolm Boscurvis as my signature. I then moved as curate to a parish that was twice the size.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The diocesan website has now been updated to correct the previous claims.

And to deal with another matter, the Diocese of Gibraltar was created in 1842. The modern Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe was formed in 1980 by merging the former with the Jurisdiction of North and Central Europe, which was not exactly a diocese, but which had existed since 1883. In fact, the same bishop had been in charge of both entities since 1970.

See http://europe.anglican.org/who-we-are/our-history

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Then there is always the Diocese of Polynesia, covering 11,000,000 square miles. If anyone is tempted to discount this because most of it is water, do note that they take water very seriously in Polynesia. In fact the Archbishop, Winston Halapua has written a fascinating book, “Moana”, about the theology of sea, and the spaces in between.