Bishop of Oxford

The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The current bishop is Steven Croft, following the confirmation of his election to the See on 6 July 2016.[1]

Bishop of Oxford
Diocese of Oxford arms.svg
Steven Croft
Ecclesiastical provinceCanterbury
First holderRobert King
CathedralChrist Church Cathedral

The Bishop of Oxford has authority throughout the diocese, but also has primary responsibility for the city and suburbs of Oxford, which form the Archdeaconry of Oxford.

From 1636 the Bishop was housed in the purpose-built Cuddesdon Palace.


The origins of Christianity in this part of England go back at least to the 7th century, when Saint Birinus brought his mission to the West Saxons in 634. The West Saxon King Cynegils was baptised in the River Thames near the present site of Dorchester Abbey, where the original See was established.

The see was transferred in 1092 to Winchester, before being absorbed into the Diocese of Lincoln, the vast extent of which covered much of central and eastern England from the River Thames to the Humber.

King Henry VIII, acting now as head of the Church in England, established by Act of Parliament in 1542 six new dioceses, mostly out of the spoils of the suppressed monasteries. These six were Bristol, Chester, Gloucester, Oxford, Peterborough and Westminster. This intervention by Henry VIII saw a new see located at Osney in Oxfordshire in 1542 before finally being moved to its present location in the City of Oxford in 1546.

While the city gained prosperity from the accession of thousands of students, it was never, apart from the university, again prominent in history until the seventeenth century, when it became the headquarters of the Royalist party, and again the meeting-place of Parliament. The city of Oxford showed its Hanoverian sympathies long before the university, and feeling between them ran high in consequence. The area and population of the city remained almost stationary until about 1830, but since then it has grown rapidly.

Modern bishopricEdit

The modern diocese covers the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire, with parishes also in Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, and Warwickshire. The see is in the City of Oxford where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Christ which was elevated to cathedral status in 1546, and which (uniquely among English dioceses) is also the chapel of Christ Church, Oxford. The Oxford diocese at the present day contains the greatest number of parishes of any diocese on England (621) and also the most church buildings (815), of which 475 are grade 1 or 2* listed buildings.

Croft is the first to reside at the new Bishop's Lodge, Kidlington; "for decades" previously, bishops had resided at Linton Road in North Oxford.[2] Each bishop signs + Christian name Oxon:; e.g. + Steven Oxon:.

List of bishopsEdit

List of the Bishops of Oxford, and its precursor offices.

(Dates in italics indicate de facto continuation of office)

Bishops of Oxford
From Until Incumbent Notes
See at Osney
1542 1546   Robert King previously suffragan bishop to the Bishop of Lincoln (as titular Bishop of Rheon, Greece)
See at Oxford
1546 1558   Robert King previously Bishop of Rheon (above)
1558 1559   Thomas Goldwell Translated from St Asaph: his nomination had however been left unsigned at the death of the Queen; deprived, fled to Milan, Naples and Rome
1559 1567 See vacant
1567 1568   Hugh Curwen Translated from Dublin
1568 1589 See vacant
1589 1592   John Underhill Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford
1592 1604 See vacant
1604 1618   John Bridges Dean of Salisbury
1619 1628   John Howson Student of Christ Church, Oxford; translated to Durham
1628 1632   Richard Corbet Dean of Christ Church, Oxford; translated to Norwich
1632 1641   John Bancroft Master of University College, Oxford
1641 1663   Robert Skinner Translated from Bristol; deprived during the Commonwealth; restored in 1660; translated to Worcester
1663 1665   William Paul Dean of Lichfield
1665 1671   Walter Blandford Warden of Wadham College, Oxford;[3] translated to Worceser
1671 1674   Nathaniel Crew Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, and Dean of Chichester; translated to Durham
1674 1676   Henry Compton Canon of Christ Church, Oxford; translated to London
1676 1686   John Fell Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
1686 1687   Samuel Parker Archdeacon of Canterbury; died in office
1688 1690   Timothy Hall Denied installation by the Chapter of Christ Church
1690 1699   John Hough President of Magdalen College, Oxford; translated to Lichfield
1699 1715   William Talbot Dean of Worcester; translated to Salisbury
1715 1737   John Potter Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford; translated to Canterbury
1737 1758   Thomas Secker Translated from Bristol; translated to Canterbury
1758 1766   John Hume Translated from Bristol; translated to Salisbury
1766 1777   Robert Lowth Translated from St David's; translated to London
1777 1788   John Butler Prebendary of Winchester; translated to Hereford
1788 1799   Edward Smallwell Translated from St David's
1799 1807   John Randolph Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford; translated to Bangor
1807 1811   Charles Moss
1812 1815   William Jackson Regius Professor of Greek, Oxford
1816 1827   Edward Legge Dean of Windsor
1827 1829   Charles Lloyd Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford
1829 1845   Richard Bagot Dean of Canterbury; translated to Bath & Wells
1845 1869   Samuel Wilberforce Dean of Westminster; translated to Winchester
1870 1889   John Mackarness Prebendary of Exeter
1889 1901   William Stubbs Translated from Chester
1901 1911   Francis Paget Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
1911 1919   Charles Gore Translated from Birmingham; resigned
1919 1925   Hubert Burge Translated from Southwark
1925 1937   Thomas Strong Translated from Ripon; resigned
1937 1954   Kenneth Kirk Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Oxford
1955 1970   Harry Carpenter Warden of Keble College, Oxford; resigned
1971 1978   Kenneth Woollcombe Principal of Edinburgh Theological College; resigned
1978 1986   Patrick Rodger Translated from Manchester; resigned
1987 2006   Richard Harries Dean of King's College, London; ennobled on retirement
2006 2014   John Pritchard Translated from Jarrow
2014 2016 Colin Fletcher
Bishop of Dorchester
Acting Bishop. The unusually long vacancy was due to the Crown Nominations Commission failing to appoint in May 2015, and having to rejoin the back of the 'queue' for a second chance in March 2016.[4]
6 July 2016 incumbent   Steven Croft Translated from Sheffield[1]

Assistant bishopsEdit

Among those who have served the diocese as stipendiary (i.e. not retired) Assistant Bishops have been:

Those who have served in (or into) retirement have included:

  • 1952 (ret.) – 1956 (d.): Roscow Shedden, former Bishop of Nassau[7]
  • 1952 (ret.) – 1956 (d.): Gerald Allen, retired Bishop suffragan of Dorchester[6]
  • 1954 (ret.) – 1961 (d.): Arthur Parham, retired Bishop suffragan of Reading[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Diocese of Oxford — Legal ceremony brings Bishop Steven a step closer Archived 14 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine & Diocese of Oxford — Letter from Bishop Steven (Both accessed 8 July 2016)
  2. ^ Ffrench, Andrew. "New Bishop of Oxford will live outside city as current £10m house deemed too expensive". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  3. ^ "No. 1". The Oxford Gazette. 7 November 1665. p. 1.
  4. ^ Church of England Media Centre — Vacancy in the See of Oxford (Accessed 15 May 2015)
  5. ^ "Church news". Church Times (#3827). 29 May 1936. p. 665. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 27 February 2020 – via UK Press Online archives.
  6. ^ a b "Allen, Gerald Burton". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  7. ^ a b "Shedden, Roscow George". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  8. ^ "Church news: personal". Church Times (#4631). 9 November 1951. p. 778. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 February 2021 – via UK Press Online archives.
  9. ^ "Jackson, Vibert". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  10. ^ 'The Anglican Episcopate', in The Living Church Annual 1957 p.375
  11. ^ "Parham, Arthur Groom". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)


  • Oxford Diocesan Year Book
  • Haydn's Book of Dignities (1894) Joseph Haydn/Horace Ockerby, reprinted (1969)
  • Whitaker's Almanack 1883 to 2004, Joseph Whitaker and Sons Ltd/A&C Black, London
  • The above text is partly drawn from the Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1908