Special service to install new Bishop of Tonbridge in his ‘seat’ at Rochester Cathedral

The new Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, was officially welcomed by the local Church and wider community, at a special service in Rochester Cathedral that took place on Sunday 2 September.


You can read Bishop Simon's address here.


Following his consecration as a bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury at St Paul's Cathedral earlier in July, Simon - the former Archdeacon of Rochester and a self-confessed Simpsons and West Wing fan - was formerly welcomed as a bishop within the Diocese of Rochester, which represents the Church of England in north west Kent, Medway and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.

The occasion saw him installed into his bishop’s ‘seat’, which is known as a ‘cathedra’ and where the word ‘cathedral’ originates.

Large numbers of people from across the region attended, including senior clergy, ordained and lay ministers, as well as other local civic dignitaries. The service was presided over by the Rt Rev James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester.

Simon also received three items to symbolise his office as bishop: an episcopal ring, a pastoral staff and a pectoral cross. All were made by local craftsman Andrew Lapthorn, who is based at Chatham Dockyards.

Two of the items were crafted from 4,500-year-old ‘bog wood’ and Simon was personally involved in their design, incorporating within them symbols of significance to him, that he explains in three short films.

Originally from Lancashire, Simon says he is excited to be able to serve others as Bishop of Tonbridge: “Kent has been my adopted county for over twenty years and we have brought our children up here.  Having received so much from its people, I can continue to give something back and contribute to the well-being of its different communities.”

Speaking to a group of secondary school pupils recently about the role of a bishop, he explained it as being like the lead singer of a rock group: “You’re like the front man of a band, setting the tone for everyone else and bringing them along with you. It’s a bit like being Dave Grohl – if my children can forgive me for saying that!”

As Bishop of Tonbridge, Simon will focus on evangelism and growth. He will also have oversight and leadership of education, youth and children, as well as community engagement work among churches across the Diocese of Rochester.

Repair fund helps Rochester Cathedral prepare for First World War commemorations

A national scheme to conserve and repair England’s cathedrals from which Rochester cathedral was awarded over £800,000 has significantly reduced immediate risks, a report published today said.

The £40 million First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritised making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War armistice in 2018.

Rochester Cathedral Received a total of £823,000 which helped to repair and replace aging roof structures.

England’s cathedrals contribute more than £220m to the economy each year, drawing in more than 11 million visitors. Each cathedral has the responsibility for raising the funds required for upkeep. However, with no regular Government funding, each cathedral faces an ongoing challenge to maintain their fabric while ensuring comfort, safety and accessibility for all.

In total, of 146 awards were made to 57 cathedrals. Twelve cathedrals were awarded more than £1 million each, and the average award was £274,000. Grants were awarded over two phases between 2014-18.

Today’s independent report shows a significant reduction of problems requiring immediate repair as a result of the investment, but warned that recipients all had outstanding repairs in areas not covered by the scheme.

Grants were awarded by an independent panel chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock, a position appointed by the Secretary of State. The Fund was administered by the Church of England’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, with the CCB praised in the report for cost efficiency and excellent communication.

The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere, adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only. 

Rochester Cathedral expects to welcome increased visitor numbers throughout 2018 for First World War commemorations. The Cathedral is joining organisations across Medway in hosting the ‘5,000 Poppies’ exhibition this November.  The exhibition features thousands of poppies knitted by the local community to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.  Throughout the summer we will be giving visitors the opportunity to knit poppies here at the Cathedral. 

The Dean of Rochester, the Very Reverend Dr Philip Hesketh Dean’s name said: “Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest of England’s Anglican cathedrals and one of its smallest. Rochester, like the rest of the nation’s cathedrals, has seen a welcome rise in the numbers of worshippers and visitors, proving yet again that cathedrals remain at the heart of our nation. Cathedrals will also be at the forefront of the nation’s acts of remembrance this year as we commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. How fitting then that the First World War Centenary Repair Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, has helped to fund urgent repair work to ensure that this ancient cathedral can host local commemorative events. Without the Fund the work to repair and replace large parts of our aging roof structures simply could not have taken place.”

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, the Church of England’s lead bishop for churches and cathedrals said: “Cathedrals such as Rochester are at the forefront of the nation’s acts of remembrance each year, and have huge economic, spiritual and missional impact on their communities. This fund has been an imaginative and welcome resource to ensure our cathedrals are fit for this commemoration, as well as underpinning the vital contributions they make to their communities. It is vital that we do not stop here and continue our commitment as a nation to protecting Rochester and all England’s cathedrals for generations to come. We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the Government around future funding collaborations.”

British Empire medal for Wendy Daws!


Wendy Daws has had a close working relationship with Rochester Cathedral for many years. The relationship began when we commissioned her to create a tactile representation of our unique fresco. Wendy has run various workshops for adults and children in the cathedral and the cathedral has hosted several exhibitions created by Wendy and the groups she works with. We are delighted that she has been awarded a BEM for her outstanding work.


Crypt Treasury Exhibition – Glass screens

The glass screens of the Crypt Treasury exhibition are emblazoned with artwork produced by adults from the Kent autistic Trust, Shared Lives and mcch with Wendy Daws supported by the National Lottery Heritage Lottery fund. The individual designs were placed on the screen in a motif which reflects the rolling shape of the River Medway.

You can watch Wendy and Xtina creating this wonderful community project on our time lapse video: 

Beyond Divine Light - An exhibition of cathedral photography

Rochester Cathedral is delighted to announce an upcoming exhibition in our Crypt.  Photographer Clive Tanner will be exhibiting a number of his photographs of English Cathedrals in May.

Beyond Divine Light is a journey around England visiting some of the great cathedrals; showing architectural and memorial details in stone, wood, textile and glass. This exhibition features the photographs of Clive Tanner, taken over the past twenty-five years and shows some of the details that might be missed at first viewing.

An enthusiastic club photographer, Clive has achieved the highest distinctions awarded by Royal Photographic Society and Photographic Alliance of Great Britain; his pictures are frequently accepted by international salons and exhibitions.

Beyond Divine Light will run in May in the Rochester Cathedral Crypt and will be free of charge to visit. 


New Bishop of Tonbrige

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Simon Burton-Jones to be the next Suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge in the Diocese of Rochester, 10 Downing Street has announced. He currently serves as Archdeacon of Rochester and Canon Residentiary at Rochester Cathedral.  For the rest of the article on the Diocesan website, see here.

The Dean, Chapter & Staff of Rochester Cathedral will be sad to see Simon go, but are delighted for him.

Stunning 70,273 display!

Rochester Cathedral is privileged to be hosting South East England’s contribution to this amazing international project commemorating the 70,273 women, men and children who lost their lives as part of the Aktion T4 programme between January 1940 and August 1941.

In the words of Lucy Horner, exhibition co-ordinator, the project is, “a mass petition for love and humanity, being signed in stitches from people all over the world.”

For more information: www.the70273project.org