The Boundaries of the Worcester Diocese

  • 16 Jan 2012
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They were attempting to rule from Lichfield which extended from Yorkshire to the Thames, and from the Welsh border to that of East Anglia. The Council of Hertford in 673 ordered the Diocese to be divided, and although ther was strong opposition from Winifred, the Bishop of Mercia. He was deposed in 675. The partition of the Diocese was completed in 680, at the Council of Hatfield, into five Sees, one being that Hwicci (Worcester), and another based at Lichfield. Unlike Lichfield, Worcester had already a church to welcome her first Bishop, a monk from the Celtic monastery of St. Hilda at Whitby. St Peter's Church had been founded some time before Bosel, the first Bishop arrived, by Saxulph, the Bishop of Mercia, and it was already the centre of a little cluster of clergy at work in these parts. The Worcester Diocese was enormously larger than it is now, and was ranked third in size of the 24 dioceses in the Province of Canterbury, being exceeded only by the dioceses of London and Rochester. Of all the 34 dioceses of England it was ranked fifth, being exceeded in the Northern Province by only York and Manchester. It consisted of the entire counties of Worcester and Warwick, with parts of the counties of Stafford, Hereford, Gloucester, Oxford, Leicester and Northampton. At the 1901 Census the population of the Diocese was 1,228,363. The present Gloucester Diocese belonged to Worcester, and continued so until the Reformation, and also a large part of the present Diocesse of Bristol. (It is recorded that St.Dunstan, founder of the present Cathedral, travelled from Worcester to Bristol in his Diocese, to agitate for the abolition of the slave trade in England). Gloucester Abbey was confiscated by Henry V111, and out of the revenues of the former Abbey, established the Gloucester See, and it continued so until 1897. The Bristol See had its own bishops from 664 to 1086, and thereafter was designated Coventry and Lichfield until 1836. Again there was fierce opposition to the changes of the Lichfield Diocese. In 1836, the Archdeaconry of Coventry was transferred from the Diocese of Lichfield to that of Worcester, and with it came the rural deaneries in Birmingham and district, and so it remained until the Diocese of Birmingham was created in 1904, shaped mainly by Bishop Gore, who left Worcester to become its first Bishop