Thinking Anglicans

Dean of Truro

The Very Revd Roger Bush, the Dean of Truro, announced earlier this month that he will retire at the end of September. The Bishop of Truro has subsequently announced that he is appointing Fr Simon Robinson SMMS as Interim Dean of Truro for the period of one year from 9 October.

“It is intended that he will fulfil this role for a full year, with the process of the appointment of a new Dean, in succession to the Very Rev. Roger Bush, taking place in parallel.”

Announcement from the Dean
Bishop Philip thanks Dean of Truro
An Interim Dean for Truro Cathedral

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Father David
1 year ago

This seems to be a recent development – interim appointments – a temporary Dean of Truro. No permanent appointment as Bishop of Lincoln but the Bishop of Ely having to exercise oversight of two large dioceses. Winchester temporarily looked after by a group of bishops exercising oversight of the diocese. Doesn’t Truro have a sub dean to hold the reins until a permanent successor is appointed to the Deanery? Usually the senior Suffragan becomes Acting Bishop until a Diocesan is appointed. Both Lincoln and Winchester have two Suffragan bishops. The Suffragans of Grimsby and Grantham offered episcopal leadership during the… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Father David
1 year ago

The Cathedrals Measure 2021, section 13(1), provdes that:

13 Interim dean

(1) If the office of dean of a cathedral is vacant or the dean is unable to discharge functions because of illness, absence or any other reason, the bishop must appoint a residentiary canon, or another clerk in Holy Orders, who is qualified to hold the office of dean to carry out the functions concerned during the period concerned.

Note the word must.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 year ago

I note the word ‘must’, but that doesn’t answer the question of why an existing member of the chapter hasn’t been appointed rather than importing someone who doesn’t know the cathedral at all. The same thing has happened at Canterbury. Do cathedrals no longer have vice-deans ready to step into the breach when required?

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

Many cathedrals have never had vice deans, with the role of canon-in-residence filling any short term and temporary absence of the dean. Vice deans are only a feature of those cathedrals that were re-founded by Henry VIII, and have historically often been a rotating role, often filled month-by-month by the canon-in-residence. Some cathedrals of the old foundation (i.e. those that were already secular cathedrals) have a subdean – but this is normally the fourth or fifth most senior post among the residentiaries (precedence, as set out in the particular statutes for hte cathedral, typically being Dean-Precentor-Chancellor-Treasurer-Subdean). Generally, cathedrals founded after… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  NJW
1 year ago

In any event, as indicated below, the bishop is required to consult the chapter when appointing an acting dean.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

This was intended as a reply to Father Dexter. Apologies for the error.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

At St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, retired Archbishop of Sydney Harry Goodhew was made Acting Dean in 2002. In that role he led the memorial service there for the Queen Mother.

Steve V
Steve V
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 year ago

I don’t think Sydney had any residentiary canons with a full time job at the Cathedral. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Steve V
1 year ago

Details of the composition of the cathedral chapter are on: Staff — ST ANDREW’S CATHEDRAL (sydneycathedral.com) There is no mention in the above document of a precentor, though I can remember there being a full-time precentor. One holder of that office was known to me personally. On a visit to St Andrew’s Cathedral the present King, then Prince Charles, informed him that ‘precentor’ means ‘the one who sings first’. I saw my ‘precentor friend’ live on television when Queen Elizabeth II attended a service at St Andrew’s Cathedral in 1992. In fact there was no Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

Explained by NJW below and subsection (3) quoted by me. Coincidentally the Bishop announced on 3rd July 2022 that he is to carry out a formal Visitation of the Cathedral.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

A visitation usually means that something is awry. Are things not good in Truro Cathedral? I’ve heard all sorts of things about the diocese but not the cathedral.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 year ago

Similarly subsection (3):

(3) Before making an appointment under subsection (1), the bishop must consult the Chapter.

It seems that, equally in Parliamentary drafting, ‘must’ is tending to take the place of ‘shall’, I suppose a more pithy style is now in vogue.

Father David
1 year ago

Will the Interim Dean be given the title Very Reverend even though he will only be in post for one year? Those 12 months will include the winter of 2022/23 when the cost of heating a building like Truro cathedral will be colossal. Just as both contenders to be the next Prime Minister have promised what Liz Truss has described as “handouts” to households to assist in helping to pay enormous fuel bills – are the Church Commissioners considering any similar plans to give financial aid to keep churches and cathedrals warm this winter?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Father David
1 year ago

Limiting this reply to your interesting question “Will the Interim Dean be given the title Very Reverend even though he will only be in post for one year?”, the answer is surely ‘no’. The style ‘Very Reverend’ goes with the fully appointed office of Dean, ordinarily effective from the formal announcement from No 10 of the Queen’s approval. The Interim Dean is appointed by the bishop and there are no special styles for such temporary appointments. He will also be a Canon Residentiary with the style of Canon. Some deans are correctly styled ‘Right Reverend’ if they happen to be… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

I remember a Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, James Grant (1931-2019) who had previously been a regional bishop in Melbourne. In his early weeks as Dean his successor as regional bishop was consecrated at St Paul’s Cathedral, and from my place in the front pews (I was hurriedly directed to a seat allocated to a VIP who had not turned up) I noted that James Grant took his place amongst the consecrating bishops. I think that Bishop Ryle, Dean of Westminster from 1911 to 1924 and previously Bishop of Winchester, did the same whenever an episcopal consecration took place… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Up to the year 2000 several English cathedrals including Blackburn and Coventry had not a dean but a provost, and that brought the title Very Rev. When in 1983 David L. Edwards relinquished his post as Dean of Norwich to become Provost of Southwark he remained ‘Very Rev.’.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 year ago

The distinction was that deans were nominated by the Crown. In those cathedrals which were parish churches with an incumbent, that incumbent was the provost (there were a couple of exceptions where the Crown had granted the title “dean” to be held by the incumbent, e.g. St Albans). The Cathedrals Measure 1999 provided that all these clergy were to be deans, whether or not they were nominated by the Crown.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

I think some vicars are called the Very Reverend as well, not just Cathedral deans but deans of other places.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

The below is pasted from the web pages of St Mary the Virgin Church in Battle, East Sussex.

The Very Reverend Lee Duckett is the 48th Dean of Battle. There has always been a Dean at St Mary’s since 1115AD when Humphridus was appointed by Abbot Ralph.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 year ago

A joint reply to you and Dave. Wikipedia conveniently lists the Deans in the Church of England as 46 Cathedral Deans and the Deans of the two ‘Royal Peculiars’, Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel, Windsor all of whom head a collegiate chapter. Battle is exceptional, possibly unique (it is a historical title of privilege and does not make the Wikipedia list). I personally do not know of any other parochial examples except possibly the Deans of Jersey and Guernsey’ (both now assigned to the Diocese of Salisbury) who use the style ‘Very Reverend’. It’s very dangerous to generalise and,… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Why the suggestion of ‘generalisation’? Having read Dave’s comment I was giving an example in support of it. I am aware of the points which Rowland raises. Dave might well have been thinking of such things as Deans of Peculiars when he made his remark. ‘Dean’ is of course also an academic title, usually meaning head of a faculty. About ten years ago, when I was still a full-time academic, I wrote an article in which I explained how ‘dean’, having previously been an ecclesiastical title, became also an academic title. The reference is: Jones J.C. ‘A coincidence in scientific etymology’ Chemistry… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Clifford Jones
1 year ago

I was referring to my own generalisation: no one else’s.

Indeed, until recently a close friend (now deceased) was a Dean in a prominent US university.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Thank you. In one of the universities in which I worked the word ‘deanal’ was used as the adjectival form of dean, analogously to ‘professorial’ for a professor. I once suggested to a very senior member of university management that ‘decanal’ was better, as that is the word applied to a dean in the ecclesiastical sense. I did not however see the issue as being important nor, I think, did he.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Here’s another example of an incumbent who has the title of dean and uses the Very Revd title:

https://www.stmarys-bocking.com/contact

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 year ago

Actually, he describes himself as Priest in Charge, but as I said in my earlier comment I don’t claim exclusive knowledge of these things. The church’s website doesn’t assist with historical information, although it is certainly officially known at The Deanery Church.

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