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Douglas Geoffrey Rowell (13 February 1943 – 11 June 2017) was an Anglican bishop,[1] who served as Bishop of Basingstoke and then as the third Bishop in Europe until his retirement on 8 November 2013.[2] Following his retirement he ministered as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Chichester (from 2013) and in the Diocese of Portsmouth (from 2015). He died in the early morning of Trinity Sunday, 11 June 2017.[3]

The Right Reverend
Geoffrey Rowell
Bishop in Europe
Bishop Geoffrey Rowell (Vienna, Austria in 2009)
Rowell in Vienna, Austria, in 2009
Diocese Diocese in Europe
In office 2001–2013
Predecessor John Hind
Successor Robert Innes
Other posts Bishop of Basingstoke (1994–2001)
Ordination Deacon 1968
Priest 1969
Consecration 2 February 1994
by George Carey
Personal details
Born (1943-02-13)13 February 1943
Died 11 June 2017(2017-06-11) (aged 74)
Denomination Anglican
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Cambridge



Rowell was educated at Winchester College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He took the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA)(1964), Master of Arts (MA)(1968), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)(1968) from Cambridge University, and was incorporated MA and DPhil at Oxford University. In 1997 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity (DD) from Oxford.[4]


Rowell never worked in parochial ministry. From ordination he worked as a lecturer in the University of Oxford, and also as Assistant Chaplain of New College (1968-1972) and then Chaplain of Keble College (1972-1994), until his elevation to the episcopate as Bishop of Basingstoke.[5]

From 1999, Rowell worked as an episcopal patron of Project Canterbury, an online archive of Anglican texts.

Rowell was consecrated as a bishop by George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 2 February 1994 at St Paul's Cathedral,[6] becoming Bishop of Basingstoke, a suffragan bishopric in the Diocese of Winchester.

Rowell was commissioned as Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe (often called "Bishop in Europe") on 18 October 2001 at St Margaret's, Westminster, and enthroned in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar, on 1 November 2001.

At the November 2012 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, Rowell was one of the three members of the House of Bishops who voted against the ordination of women as bishops.[7]

Turkish controversyEdit

In 2004 Rowell disagreed publicly with parishioners in Turkey over his plans to lease a historic and recently renovated church building for use as a nightclub. The plan was defeated after popular complaints.[8]

In January 2007, Rowell suspended the chaplain of Istanbul, Ian Sherwood, and the entire chaplaincy council.[9] By 2008 the disagreement between Rowell and the Anglican chaplaincies in Turkey had intensified, as the bishop insisted on ordaining a Turkish convert from Islam, despite complaints from local Anglican clergy and laity that the ordination would place them in serious physical danger. When the bishop arrived to carry out the ordination he found himself locked out of all six Anglican churches, and was forced to administer the ordination in a borrowed Calvinist chapel. The Secretary of the Istanbul chaplaincy council described Rowell as a "rogue bishop"[8], whilst the senior chaplain in Turkey accused Rowell of causing suffering to ordinary people because of his own life having been largely "in the shelter of Oxford University".[8]


Rowell was extensively published in the field of Anglo-Catholic church history. He was the founding president of the Anglo Catholic History Society. He authored or co-authored the following:

Rowell co-authored and edited these anthologies:

  • Rowell, Geoffrey (1990). Confession and Absolution (Essays on the sacrament of penance). London: SPCK. ISBN 0-281-04442-2. 
  • Rowell, Geoffrey (1993). The Oil of Gladness - Anointing in the Christian tradition (Essays on the sacrament of unction). London: SPCK. ISBN 0-8146-2245-3. 

Outline of careerEdit



  1. ^ The Rt Rev Geoffrey Rowell "Anglican bishop to Europe who wore purple welliesand told the Pope he prayed for him as his parishioner" The Times 27 June 2017 p57
  2. ^ "BISHOP ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT". Diocese in Europe. 22 March 2013. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  3. ^ Innes, Robert (11 June 2017). "TRIBUTES TO BISHOP GEOFFREY ROWELL R.I.P." The Diocese in Europe. Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Press Release — Suffragan See of Basingstoke (National Archives)
  5. ^ ‘ROWELL, Rt Rev. Dr (Douglas) Geoffrey’, Who's Who 2017, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2017; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2016 ; online edn, Nov 2016 accessed 27 June 2017
  6. ^ "Briefly (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#6834). 4 February 1994. p. 2. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 21 February 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Bingham, John (26 November 2012). "Half of women bishops opponents in Synod were women". Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Helena (14 January 2008). "Bishop locked out of churches over Turkish priest". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2017. In 2004, he backed controversial Foreign Office plans to lease a historic chapel in the grounds of the British Consulate - attacked by suicide bombers months earlier - to a Turkish hotelier intent on handing it over to belly dancers. 
  9. ^ "Bishop chastises Istanbul parishioners in growing row". TodaysZaman. 24 January 2007. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 

External linksEdit