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Dean of the Chapel Royal facts for kids

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The Dean of the Chapel Royal, in any kingdom, can be the title of an official charged with oversight of that kingdom's chapel royal, the ecclesiastical establishment which is part of the royal household and ministers to it.


In England, the Dean of the Chapel Royal was appointed by royal warrant and appointed its officers and staff. The office of dean (dating from 1312) has been by custom held by the Bishop of London since 1748. In practice, the chapel, its choir, and the various chapel buildings associated with it come under the oversight of the Sub-Dean, who is the Queen's residential chaplain.

Office holders

  • c. 1349: John de Wodeford
  • c. 1356: John de Leek
  • c. 1380: Thomas de Lynton (canon of Windsor, 1378–1387)
  • c. 1389: John Boor (canon of Windsor, 1389–1402)
  • c. 1400: Richard Kyngeston, Archdeacon of Hereford and canon of Windsor
  • c. 1403: Richard Prentys, Archdeacon of West Ham and canon of Windsor
  • 1414: Edmund Lacey, canon of Windsor (became Bishop of Hereford, 1417)
  • c. 1421: Robert Gilbert (later Bishop of London, 1436)
  • 1432: Richard Praty (became Bishop of Chichester, 1438)
  • c. 1440: John Croucher
  • c. 1447 Robert Ayscogh (possibly Robert Aiscuogh, later Archdeacon of Exeter)
  • c. 1449–1468 (d.): William Say, Dean of St Paul's from 1457 and Archdeacon of Northampton from 1464
  • c. 1471: William Dudley, canon then Dean of Windsor (became Bishop of Durham)
  • 1476: John Gunthorpe, Dean of Wells and, until 1478, Archdeacon of Essex
  • c. 1483: William Chauntre, Archdeacon of Derby
  • c. 1489: Richard Hill, Bishop of London
  • c. 1496: Thomas Jane, Bishop of Norwich
  • c. 1500: Richard Nikke
  • c. 1501: Geoffrey Simeon (later Dean of Lincoln)
  • 1502: William Atwater, canon of Windsor 1504–1514, then Bishop of Lincoln
  • 1521: ?
  • 1572: William Day, Dean of Windsor (became Bishop of Winchester)
  • 1595: ?
  • 1618–1626: Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Ely until 1619, then Bishop of Winchester
  • 1626: William Laud, Bishop of St David's until 1626, then Bishop of Bath and Wells until 1628, then Bishop of London until 1633, then Archbishop of Canterbury
  • 1643–?1651: Richard Steward (Provost of Eton and Dean of St Paul's (but not installed), 1642–1651))
  • 7 June 1660: Gilbert Sheldon, Bishop of London
  • 2 October 1663: George Morley, Bishop of Winchester
  • 7 February 1668: Herbert Croft, Bishop of Hereford
  • 5 April 1669: Walter Blandford, Bishop of Oxford until 1671, then Bishop of Worcester
  • 15 July 1675: Henry Compton, Bishop of London
  • 28 December 1685: Nathaniel Crew, Bishop of Durham
  • 20 September 1689: Henry Compton, Bishop of London (again)
  • 17 July 1713: John Robinson, Bishop of Bristol until 1714, then Bishop of London
  • 15 March 1718: William Talbot, Bishop of Salisbury
  • 17 November 1721 – 1748: Edmund Gibson, Bishop of Lincoln until 1723, then Bishop of London
  • For deans after 1748 see Bishop of London



In Scotland, the title first appears in the fifteenth century, when it may have referred to a prebend in the church of St Mary on the Rock, St Andrews. In 1501 James IV founded a new Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle, but from 1504 onwards the deanery was held by successive Bishops of Galloway with the title of Bishop of the Chapel Royal and authority over all the royal palaces within Scotland. The deanery was annexed to the bishopric of Dunblane in 1621, and the Chapel Royal was removed to Holyrood.

The office of Dean was suppressed with the abolition of prelacy in 1689, and the revenues of the Chapel Royal reverted to the Crown. Grants from these revenues were made to individual Church of Scotland ministers and from 1727 onwards part was allocated to three royal chaplains, known collectively as the Deans of the Chapel Royal. Replacement of these chaplains by professors of the Divinity Faculties in the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, Edinburgh University and the University of St Andrews took place between 1860 and 1868. In 1886 the office of Dean was revived and united by royal warrant to that of Dean of the Thistle, eventually being separated in 1969. Under the 1886 royal warrant, the Dean is also titular Abbot of Crossraguel and Abbot of Dundrennan.

Office holders since revival

  • 1887–1910: Cameron Lees, Minister of St Giles' Cathedral until 1906 and Dean of the Thistle
  • 1910–1926: Wallace Williamson, Minister of St Giles' Cathedral and Dean of the Thistle
  • 1926–1969: Charles Warr, Dean of the Thistle and sometime Minister of St Giles' Cathedral
  • 1969–1973: James Longmuir, sometime Minister at Chirnside
  • 1974–1981: Hugh Douglas, Minister at Dundee until 1977
  • 1981–1991: Robin Barbour, New Testament professor
  • 1991–1996: William Morris, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral
  • 1996–2006: James Harkness, Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Queen
  • 2006–2013: John Cairns, Minister at Riverside Parish Church, Dumbarton
  • 2013–present: Iain Torrance, Emeritus Professor of Patristics, Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Queen and Dean of the Thistle


The Chapel Royal (Irish: Séipéal Ríoga) in Dublin Castle was the official Church of Ireland chapel of the Household of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1814 until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The chaplain of the Lord Lieutenant is styled Dean of the Chapel Royal.

Office holders

  • 1828–1831: George Bisshopp, Archdeacon of Agbadoe (became Dean of Lismore)
  • 1831–1842: Thomas Hawkins
  • 1842–1852: Charles Vignoles, Dean of Ossory from 1843
  • 1852–1860: Usher Tighe, Dean of Leighlin until 1854, then Dean of Ardahg until 1858 (became Dean of Derry)
  • 1860–1866: Charles Graves, Dean of Clonfert from 1864 (became Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe)
  • 1866–1868: William Connor Magee, Dean of Cork (became Bishop of Peterborough)
  • 1868–1902: Hercules Dickinson (died 1905)
  • 1905–1913: Reginald Webster
  • 1914–1922: Charles O'Hara-Mease (died 1922)
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