Diocese of Exeter

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Diocese of Exeter
Church of England
Province: Canterbury
Arms of the Bishop of Exeter
Cathedral of Exeter edit.jpg

Exeter Cathedral
Cathedral: Exeter Cathedral
Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop of Crediton
Archdeaconries: Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth, Totnes
No. of parishes: 506
No. of churches: 625
Website: exeter.anglican.org

The Diocese of Exeter is one of the largest of the dioceses of the Church of England and covers Devon, excluding the parishes west of the River Tamar. The Cathedral is Exeter Cathedral, the seat of the diocesan Bishop of Exeter. It is part of the Province of Canterbury.

Exeter Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St Peter in Exeter, commonly called Exeter Cathedral, is at the heart of the City of Exeter. The Cathedral Close provides a broad green space in the city centre surrounded by historic buildings and lanes. Although the Luftwaffe mauled Exeter cruelly during the War, the cathedral and its immediate surrounds largely survived.


The Diocese of Crediton was created out of the Diocese of Sherborne in AD 909 to serve Devon.[1] In that age, Exeter was the largest town of the county, but Crediton was chosen as the site of an important monastery, and it was also the birthplace of Saint Boniface.[2] The Diocese of Saint Germans, which served the Cornish, was absorbed at some point later in the century.

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.[2]

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


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

  • The Archdeaconry of Exeter contains the Deaneries of Aylesbeare, Cadbury, Christianity (Exeter), Cullompton, Honiton, Kenn, Ottery, Tiverton
  • The Archdeaconry of Totnes contains the Deaneries of Moreton, Newton Abbot and Ipplepen, Okehampton, Torbay, Totnes, Woodleigh
  • The Archdeaconry of Barnstaple contains the Deaneries of Barnstaple, Hartland, Holsworthy, Shirwell, South Molton, Torrington
  • The Archdeaconry of Plymouth contains the Deaneries of Ivybridge, Devonport, Moorside, Sutton, Tavistock

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.[3]

Bishops of Exeter


Pre-Reformation Bishops of Exeter
From Until Incumbent Notes
1050 1072 Leofric The first bishop who had transferred the sees of Crediton and Cornwall to Exeter
1072 1103 Osbern FitzOsbern
1107 1138 William Warelwast
1138 1155 Robert Warelwast
1155 1160 Robert of Chichester
1161 1184 Bartholomew Iscanus
1186 1191 John the Chanter
1194 1206 Henry Marshal
1206 1214 See vacant Due to papal interdict against King John's realms.
1214 1223 Simon of Apulia
1224 1244 William Briwere Also recorded as William Brewer
1245 1257 Richard Blund Also recorded as Richard Blundy
1258 1280 Walter Branscombe Also recorded as Walter Bronescombe
1280 1291 Peter Quinel Also recorded as Peter de Quivel or Quivil
1291 1307 Thomas Bitton Also recorded as Thomas de Bytton
1308 1326 Walter de Stapledon
1326 1327 James Berkeley
1327 John Godeley Also recorded as John Godele. Elected, but quashed.
1327 1369 John Grandisson
1370 1394 Thomas de Brantingham Also recorded as Thomas Brantyngham
1395 1419 Edmund Stafford
1419 John Catterick Also recorded as John Ketterick. Translated from Lichfield.
1420 1455 Edmund Lacey Also recorded as Edmund Lacy. Translated from Hereford.
1455 1456 John Hales Appointed, but resigned before consecration.
1458 1465 George Neville Translated to York
1465 1478 John Booth
1478 1487 Peter Courtenay Translated to Winchester
1487 1492 Richard Foxe Translated to Bath and Wells
1493 1495 Oliver King Translated to Bath and Wells
1496 1502 Richard Redman Translated from St Asaph; later translated to Ely
1502 1504 John Arundel Translated from Lichfield
1505 1519 Hugh Oldham

During the Reformation

Bishops of Exeter during the Reformation
From Until Incumbent Notes
1519 1551 John Vesey (resigned)
1551 1553 Myles Coverdale
1553 1554 John Vesey (restored)
1555 1560 James Turberville

From the Reformation

Bishops of Exeter since the Reformation
From Until Incumbent Notes
1560 1571 William Alley Also recorded as William Alley
1571 1578 William Bradbridge
1579 1594 John Woolton
1595 1597 Gervase Babington Translated to Worcester
1598 1621 William Cotton
1621 1626 Valentine Cary
1627 1641 Joseph Hall Translated to Norwich
1642 1659 Ralph Brownrigg
1660 1662 John Gauden Translated to Worcester
1662 1667 Seth Ward Translated to Salisbury
1667 1676 Anthony Sparrow Translated to Norwich
1676 1688 Thomas Lamplugh Translated to York
1689 1707 Sir Jonathan Trelawney Bt Translated from Bristol; later translated to Winchester
1708 1716 Ofspring Blackall
1717 1724 Lancelot Blackburne Translated to York
1724 1742 Stephen Weston
1742 1746 Nicholas Clagett Translated from St David's
1747 1762 George Lavington
1762 1777 Frederick Keppel
1778 1792 John Ross
1792[4] 1796 William Buller
1797 1803 Reginald Courtenay Translated from Bristol
1803 1807 John Fisher Translated to Salisbury
1807 1820 George Pelham Translated from Bristol; later translated to Lincoln
1820 1830 William Carey Translated to St Asaph
1830 1830 Christopher Bethell Translated from Gloucester; later translated to Bangor
1831 1869 Henry Phillpotts
1869 1885 Frederick Temple Translated to London
1885 1900 Edward Bickersteth
1901 1903 Herbert Edward Ryle Translated to Winchester
1903 1916 Archibald Robertson
1916 1936 Lord William Cecil
1936 1948 Charles Curzon
1949 1973 Robert Mortimer
1973 1985 Eric Mercer
1985 1999 Hewlett Thompson
1999 30 June 2013 Michael Langrish

Outside links



  • 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

Dioceses of the Church of England

Province of Canterbury:
Bath & Wells •
Birmingham • Bristol • Canterbury • Chelmsford • Chichester • Coventry • Derby • Ely • Exeter • Gibraltar in Europe • Gloucester • Guildford • Hereford • Leicester • Lichfield • Lincoln • London • Norwich • Oxford • Peterborough • Portsmouth • Rochester • Saint Albans • Saint Edmundsbury & Ipswich • Salisbury • Southwark • Truro • Winchester • Worcester
Province of York:
Blackburn •
Carlisle • Chester • Durham • Leeds • Liverpool • Manchester • Newcastle • Sheffield • Sodor & Man • Southwell & Nottingham • York