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Diocese of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has many national and international responsibilities, but historically the central role, and the source of the Archbishop's authority, is as Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. Diocese of CanterburyThe Archbishop's ministry as a bishop is rooted in the city of Canterbury as 'pastor of the cathedral and metropolitical church of Christ Canterbury' from which he oversees the life and witness of a diocese of 270 parishes:  most of the county of Kent. 

The See of Canterbury — that is, the cathedral, parishes and other communities and institutions that make up the Diocese — is the 'mother' church (diocese) of the Church of England.  As its bishop the Archbishop is therefore the 'metropolitan' bishop of the whole of the ecclesiastical 'province' of Canterbury: that is, the 30 diocesan sees of southern England and the Diocese in Europe, in relation to which he has a permanent authority of jurisdiction. There are many legal and pastoral responsibilities wrapped up in this role (and it is paralleled by a similar relationship between the Diocese and Archbishop of York and the other 12 dioceses of northern England).  

The Archbishop of Canterbury is supported in his diocesan ministry by the Bishop of Dover, a supplementary or 'suffragan' bishop who acts as the Archbishop's delegate for the day to day running of diocesan affairs. Two further supplementary bishops, the Bishops of Richborough and Ebbsfleet, also work on the Archbishop's behalf to care for those parishes across the Province of Canterbury that do not accept the ministry of women priests.  

The Archbishop of Canterbury's most focused periods of activity in the diocese occur at Christmas, Easter, and the Ordinations of deacons and priests for the Diocese.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury (to give it its full title) was founded by St Augustine and has undergone numerous modifications in the centuries since.

Canterbury CathedralAs well as being the historic seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and 'mother church' of the Diocese of Canterbury, it is also considered to be 'mother church' to the global Anglican Communion. Since the 12th century, following the murder of Archbishop St. Thomas Becket, the Cathedral has attracted pilgrims from across the globe. A central part of a World Heritage Site, the Cathedral remains a building of immense spiritual and historic significance. In 2006 an appeal was launched to raise the £50 million necessary to help fund much-needed repairs to the structure of this ancient building.

The Old Palace

The Old Palace at Canterbury, within the precincts of the Cathedral, is the main residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his family when in Canterbury.

The Old PalaceIts history dates from the 11th century and it was home to many Archbishops until the Palace and the Estates were taken over by Parliament in 1647, following the English Civil War.

Afterwards it remained unoccupied until the end of the 19th century, when Archbishop Frederick Temple opted to live there.

It has undergone many modifications and adjustments over the years, most recently reopening again in 2006 after a two -year process of much needed refurbishment.