New plaque in Bristol Cathedral to commemorate first women ordained in the Church of England

First published 23rd February 2022

Bristol Cathedral is to install a new plaque commemorating the first 32 women priests, who were ordained by the then-Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Barry Rogerson, in the cathedral in 1994. 

It will replace the original 1994 plaque which does not mention the women’s names.

The plaque will be unveiled at an 11am Eucharist service on Saturday 12 March with Bishop Viv, the date marking the 28th anniversary of the memorable ordination service. Book free tickets here.

The Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, said: “It is wonderful to be gathering for this special occasion with a service of Holy Communion.  There is a certain irony that it has taken us 28 years to unveil a plaque that mentions the names of those pioneering women ordained in Bristol Cathedral all those years ago! But I hope and pray that the progress that this represents will be a mark of wider progress in the standing of women in the church and indeed our reaching out to all marginalised or under-represented groups.”

Revd Angela Berners-Wilson was one of the first women to be ordained in 1994 and is currently rector of the Quantock Towers Benefice in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

She said: “I am very much looking forward to being back in Bristol Cathedral in March, 28 years to the day after our ordination as the first group of women to be priested in the Church of England. It will be very special to have all our 32 names included on a new plaque to be put up in the cathedral as the original one only included the Bishop and Dean! I also look forward to seeing many former colleagues and also to retiring back to Bristol at the end of May this year.”

The celebration service is open to the public, and specific invites have been sent to all surviving women from the 1994 ordination, as well as all women clergy in the Diocese of Bristol.

The new plaque was commissioned by the Very Revd Dr Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol, and Bristol Cathedral Chapter in 2019, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Images: (1) Robyn Golden-Hann carving the new plaque – credit Robyn Golden-Hann; (2) the original 1994 plaque currently installed in Bristol Cathedral – credit Mel Parkin

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