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English cathedral orders new Welsh slate plaque honouring first women priests after first only names man who ordained them

07 Mar 2022 3 minutes Read
The plaque being carved by Robyn Golden-Hann. Picture by Bristol Cathedral

An English cathedral has ordered a new plaque made from Welsh slate to commemorate the first women priests after the first only named the man who ordained them.

The original Welsh slate plaque unveiled in 1994 at Bristol cathedral does not mention the women’s names but rather the then-Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Barry Rogerson.

It read: “In this cathedral on 12 March 1994 Barry Rogerson Bishop of Bristol ordained the first women as press in the Church of England.”

The cathedral has now ordered another plaque of Welsh slate on which all 32 of the women’s names are being carved.

The planning application for the new plaque caused much mirth on social media, with one user’s message being shared by thousands after he posted the “priceless” message online.

It read: “The reason that the original plaque is being replaced is that it did not mention any of the women who were ordained. Instead it mentioned the men that ordained them.

“The new plaque has the names of all those ordained on it. The original and new plaque are both made of Welsh Slate. The new plaque will be slightly bigger than the old plaque.”

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.”

The original plaque

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.”


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