Diocese of Exeter

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Diocese of Exeter
Diocese of Exeter arms.svg
Ecclesiastical province Canterbury
Archdeaconries Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth, Totnes
Parishes 506
Churches 625
Cathedral Exeter Cathedral
Current leadership
Bishop Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter
Suffragans Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Plymouth
Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton
Archdeacons Ian Chandler, Archdeacon of Plymouth
Christopher Futcher, Archdeacon of Exeter
Mark Butchers, Archdeacon of Barnstaple
Douglas Dettmer, Archdeacon of Totnes

The Diocese of Exeter is a Church of England diocese covering the county of Devon. It is one of the largest dioceses in England. The Cathedral Church of St Peter in Exeter is the seat of the diocesan Bishop of Exeter. It is part of the Province of Canterbury. The diocesan bishop (Robert Atwell since 30 April 2014)[1] is assisted by two suffragan bishops, the Bishop of Crediton and the Bishop of Plymouth. The See of Crediton was created in 1897 and the See of Plymouth in 1923.


The Diocese of Crediton was created out of the Diocese of Sherborne in AD 909 to cover the area of Devon and Cornwall.[2] Crediton was chosen as the site for its cathedral, possibly due it having been the birthplace of Saint Boniface and also the existence of a monastery there.[3]

In 1046, Leofric became the Bishop of Crediton: following his appointment he decided that the see should be moved to the larger, more culturally significant and defensible walled town of Exeter. In 1050, King Edward the Confessor authorised that Exeter was to be the seat of the bishop for Devon and Cornwall and that a cathedral was to be built there for the bishop's throne. Thus, Leofric became the last diocesan Bishop of Crediton and the first Bishop of Exeter.[3]

The diocese remained unchanged until 1876, when the former Archdeaconry of Cornwall became the independent Diocese of Truro.



The current diocesan Bishop of Exeter is Robert Atwell, who is assisted by Nick McKinnel, Bishop suffragan of Plymouth (which see was created in 1923) and Sarah Mullally, Bishop suffragan of Crediton (which see was erected in 1897.) The provincial episcopal visitor (for parishes in this diocese – among twelve others in the western part of the Province of Canterbury – which do not accept the ordination of women as priests, since 1994) is Jonathan Goodall, Bishop suffragan of Ebbsfleet (for traditional Anglo-Catholics , and Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone (for Conservative Evangelicals); they are licensed as honorary assistant bishops in the diocese.

There are three former bishops licensed as honorary assistant bishops in the diocese:


The diocese is divided into four archdeaconries. The Bishop suffragan of Crediton generally oversees the Archdeaconries of Barnstaple and Exeter and the Bishop suffragan of Plymouth the Archdeaconries of Plymouth and Totnes.

Archdeaconry of Exeter (est. bef. 1083; Archdeacon: Christopher Futcher)

Archdeaconry of Totnes (est. bef. 1140; Archdeacon: Douglas Dettmer)

Archdeaconry of Barnstaple (est. bef. 1143; Archdeacon: Mark Butchers)

Archdeaconry of Plymouth (est. 1918; Archdeacon: Ian Chandler)

Coat of arms

The arms of the diocese are Gules two keys in saltire Or a sword hilt downwards in pale Argent with hilt Or surmounted by a mitre. The charges are emblems of Saints Peter (keys) and Paul (sword) who are the patron saints of the cathedral.[8]


  1. ^ Diocese of Exeter – Election of new Bishop of Exeter formally confirmed[permanent dead link] (Accessed 9 May 2014)
  2. ^ Crediton Festival 2009 Archived 21 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
  3. ^ a b Exeter: Ecclesiastical History. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
  4. ^ Hawkins, Richard Stephen. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 26 April 2014.  closed access publication – behind paywall
  5. ^ ,. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  closed access publication – behind paywall
  6. ^ Ashby, Godfrey William Ernest Candler. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (December 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 18 August 2014.  closed access publication – behind paywall
  7. ^ "Godfrey William Ernest Candler Ashby". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Exeter Diocese: Resources in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 5 February 2014)

Further reading

  • Oliver, George (1846) Monasticon Dioecesis Exoniensis: being a collection of records and instruments illustrating the ancient conventual, collegiate, and eleemosynary foundations, in the Counties of Cornwall and Devon, with historical notices, and a supplement, comprising a list of the dedications of churches in the Diocese, an amended edition of the taxation of Pope Nicholas, and an abstract of the Chantry Rolls; [with supplement and index]. Exeter: P. A. Hannaford, 1846, 1854, 1889

External links

  • Diocese of Exeter
  • Ancient Diocese of Exeter – from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Coordinates: 50°43′21″N 3°31′46″W / 50.72250°N 3.52944°W / 50.72250; -3.52944

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