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The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxfordmarker in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxfordmarker. The present incumbent, the 42nd, is John Lawrence Pritchard, who ceremonially began his work on 8 June 2007.


Early times

The origins of Christianity in this part of Englandmarker 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 Abbeymarker, where the original See was established.

The see was transferred in 1092 to Winchestermarker, before being absorbed into the Diocese of Lincolnmarker, the vast extent of which covered much of central and eastern England from the River Thames to the Humbermarker.

Tudor period

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 Osneymarker in Oxfordshire in 1542 before finally being moved to its present location in the City of Oxfordmarker in 1546.

Subsequent centuries

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.

The modern diocese covers the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire, with parishes also in Bedfordshire, Gloucestershiremarker, Hampshire, Hertfordshiremarker, and Warwickshiremarker. The see is in the City of Oxfordmarker 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, Oxfordmarker.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.

The Bishop's residence is Diocesan Church House, Oxford. He signs + Christian name Oxon:.

See also



  • Oxford Diocesan Year Book
  • Haydn's Book of Dignities (1894) Joseph Haydn/Horace Ockerby, reprinted (1969)
  • Whitaker's Almanack 1883 to 2004, Joseph Whitaker and Sons Ltd/A&C Black, London
  • The above text is partly drawn from the Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1908

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