Libby Lane

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The Right Reverend
Libby Lane
Bishop of Stockport
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of Chester
In office January 2015 – present
Predecessor Robert Atwell
Consecration 26 January 2015 (bishop)
by John Sentamu
Personal details
Birth name Elizabeth Jane Holden
Born (1966-12-08) 8 December 1966 (age 51)
Wycombe Rural District, Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Residence Dunham Town, near Bowdon, Greater Manchester
George Lane (m. 1990)
Children 2
Alma mater

Elizabeth Jane Holden "Libby" Lane (born 8 December 1966)[1] is a Church of England bishop. Since January 2015, she has been the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She is the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England, after its General Synod voted in July 2014 to allow women to become bishops. Her consecration took place on 26 January 2015 at York Minster.

Early life

Lane was born as Elizabeth Jane Holden in Wycombe Rural District, Buckinghamshire,[2] and raised in Glossop, Derbyshire.[3] She was educated at Manchester High School for Girls, an independent girls' school.[4] In 1986, she matriculated into St Peter's College, Oxford, where she studied theology. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1989;[5] this was later promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) degree under the statutes and customs of the university.[6] From 1991 to 1993, she studied for ordination at Cranmer Hall, Durham University.[7][4]

Ordained ministry

Lane was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1993 and as a priest in 1994.[7] She served her curacy at St James's Church, Blackburn, from 1993 to 1996.[8][4] She served in the Diocese of Chester from 2000 to 2014 and was the vicar of the combined benefice of St Peter's Hale and St Elizabeth's Ashley from 2007.[9] She was also the Dean of Women in Ministry in the diocese from 2010.[10]

In 2013, Lane was elected one of eight participant observers of the House of Bishops as the observer representing the North West of England.[11][12] The observers are senior female priests who will attend and participate in meetings of the House of Bishops until six women have full membership of the House.[13] She attended her first meeting in December 2013.[14] Lane ceased to be an observer when she was elected, by and from among the suffragan bishops of the Province of York, to the House of Bishops in 2015.[15] As an elected suffragan, she is now a full member of the House.[16]


On 17 December 2014, it was announced that Lane was to become the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester.[17][18][19] The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, called her appointment "historic" and "an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions."[9] She was consecrated at York Minster on 26 January 2015 by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. When the archbishop asked the congregation if Lane should be consecrated as a bishop the service was briefly interrupted by vexatious litigant and Anglo-Catholic priest, Paul Williamson, who exclaimed "It's not in the Bible" and called Lane's being a woman an "absolute impediment". There was no opposition when Sentamu – having carefully explained the legality of the act – asked a second time.[20]

One of the first duties that Lane undertook as a bishop was her involvement in the consecration service for Philip North as the Bishop of Burnley on 2 February 2015. North is a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic who does not accept the ordination of women. Therefore, Lane and all but three other bishops did not take part in the laying on of hands. (This situation was widely commented upon as exemplifying a "theology of taint".[21]) Instead, they gathered in prayer around North with only the three bishops "who share his theological conviction regarding the ordination of women" laying their hands on him.[22] She was installed at Chester Cathedral on 8 March 2015, International Women's Day, signalling the official start of her ministry as Bishop of Stockport.[23]

Personal life

Lane married her husband, George Lane, in 1990.[3] They had met while both students at St Peter's College, Oxford, in the late 1980s.[5] He is an Anglican priest and currently the co-ordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. They were among the first married couples to be ordained at the same time in the Church of England.[24] They have two children,[19] Connie and Benedict.[3]


Lane was made an honorary fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford (her alma mater) in June 2015.[25] In July 2015, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.[26] In July 2017, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of Bath.[27]


  1. ^ Lane, Elizabeth Jane Holden. Who's Who. 2016 (November 2015 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 24 July 2016. closed access publication – behind paywall
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Jane Holden". FamilySearch. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Bingham, John (26 January 2015). "Rev Libby Lane: from 11-year-old stranger to first female bishop". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Elizabeth Jane Holden (Libby) Lane". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing.
  5. ^ a b "The Reverend Libby Lane Consecrated". News and Events. St Peter's College, Oxford. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  6. ^ Brown, Andrew (17 December 2014). "Church of England's first female bishop named as Libby Lane". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b "First female bishop named as the Reverend Libby Lane". BBC News. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Suffragan See of Stockport: Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane nomination approved". Announcements. GOV.UK. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Saul, Heather (17 December 2014). "First female bishop announced as Rev Libby Lane by Church of England". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  10. ^ Moody, Oliver (17 December 2014). "Church appoints Cheshire vicar Libby Lane first woman bishop". The Times. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  11. ^ Barrett, Claer (17 December 2014). "Church of England appoints first woman bishop". The Financial Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Bishops Welcome Participant Observers to First Meeting". News. The Diocese of Rochester. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  13. ^ Davies, Madeleine (7 February 2013). "Women dignitaries to be elected as Bishops' 'participant observers'". Church Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Bishops Welcome Participant Observers to First Meeting". Media Centre. Church of England. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  15. ^ Church of England — General Synod results (Accessed 12 October 2015)
  16. ^ Church of England — House of Bishops (Accessed 13 December 2015)
  17. ^ "The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport". Church of England. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Church names its first woman bishop", The Times, 18 December 2014, p. 19.
  19. ^ a b "Church of England Appoints its First Female Bishop". Newsweek. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Libby Lane: First female Church of England bishop consecrated". 26 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  21. ^ The Telegraph — Sentamu rejects ‘taint’ claim in women bishops row (Accessed 14 December 2015)
  22. ^ "Bishop of Burnley: Rt Rev Philip North consecrated". BBC News. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  23. ^ "Libby Lane: First female Church of England bishop installed". BBC News. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  24. ^ Siddique, Haroon (17 December 2014). "Libby Lane: profile of the Church of England's first female bishop". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  25. ^ Damazer, Mark (9 June 2015). "Honorary Fellowship for Bishop Libby Lane". St Peter's College, Oxford. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  26. ^ "The Church of England's First Female Bishop Receives Honorary Doctorate". University of Wales Trinity Saint David. 13 July 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  27. ^ "The Rt Revd Libby Lane: oration". University of Bath. July 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2018.

External links

  • Episcopal appointment announcement on the Church of England website.
  • Profile on St Peter's Hale website.
  • Article on the Cheshire Life website.
  • Libby Lane: ‘Whatever the Church’s failings, I really think this is where God has put me’
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Robert Atwell
Bishop of Stockport

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