Bishop of Oxford
Steven Croft
Ecclesiastical provinceCanterbury
First holderRobert King
CathedralChrist Church Cathedral

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]

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 bishopric

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 bishops

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 1646 Robert Skinner Translated from Bristol; deprived of the see when the English episcopacy was abolished by Parliament on 9 October 1646.
1646 1660 The see was abolished during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate.[3][4]
1660 1663 Robert Skinner Restored; translated to Worcester
1663 1665 William Paul Dean of Lichfield
1665 1671 Walter Blandford Warden of Wadham College, Oxford;[5] 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.[6]
6 July 2016 incumbent Steven Croft Translated from Sheffield[1]

Assistant bishops

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:

See also


  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 Retrieved 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. ^ Plant, David (2002). "Episcopalians". BCW Project. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  4. ^ King, Peter (July 1968). "The Episcopate during the Civil Wars, 1642-1649". The English Historical Review. Oxford University Press. 83 (328): 523–537. doi:10.1093/ehr/lxxxiii.cccxxviii.523. JSTOR 564164.
  5. ^ "No. 1". The Oxford Gazette. 7 November 1665. p. 1.
  6. ^ Church of England Media Centre — Vacancy in the See of Oxford (Retrieved 15 May 2015)
  7. ^ "Church news". Church Times. No. 3827. 29 May 1936. p. 665. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 27 February 2020 – via UK Press Online archives.
  8. ^ a b "Allen, Gerald Burton". Who's Who. A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ a b "Shedden, Roscow George". Who's Who. A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ "Church news: personal". Church Times. No. 4631. 9 November 1951. p. 778. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 February 2021 – via UK Press Online archives.
  11. ^ "Jackson, Vibert". Who's Who. A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ 'The Anglican Episcopate', in The Living Church Annual 1957 p.375
  13. ^ "Church Times: Deaths, 8 January 2021". Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Parham, Arthur Groom". Who's Who. A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)