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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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About Rowan Williams

The Infant Rowan Williams with his Mother, Delphine Williams, 1950Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate – in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought – at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

Rowan Williams on his Graduation, Christ's College Cambridge, with Parents Aneurin and Delphine Williams, 1971From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

Rowan Williams and Jane Paul on their Wedding Day, 1981In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years' experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study – philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics – as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral – leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son. 


Christ's College, Cambridge B.A. 1971. M.A. 1975
Wadham College, Oxford, D.Phil 1975
College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, 1975
Deacon 1977, Priest 1978
Tutor, Westcott House, Cambridge 1977-1980
Honorary Curate, Chesterton St George, Ely 1980-1983
Lecturer in Divinity, Cambridge 1980-1986
Dean and Chaplain, Clare College, Cambridge 1984-1986
Canon Theologian, Leicester Cathedral 1981-1982
Canon Residentiary, Christ Church, Oxford 1986-1992
Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford 1986-1992
Doctor of Divinity 1989
Fellow, British Academy 1990

Episcopal Offices

Bishop of Monmouth

Elected Bishop of Monmouth on 5 December 1991, Rowan Williams was consecrated at St Asaph Cathedral on the feast of St Philip and St James, 1 May 1992 and was enthroned at St Woolos Cathedral on 14 May, 1992.

Archbishop of Wales

Rowan Williams was elected Archbishop of Wales in December 1999 and was enthroned at St Woolos Cathedral on Saturday 26th February, 2000.

Archbishop of Canterbury

Elected as Archbishop of Canterbury on 23 July 2002.

Confirmed as 104th Archbishop of Canterbury on 2 December 2002 in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 February 2003 in Canterbury Cathedral.

At the end of 2012 he will step down and move to a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.


Recent items relating to Rowan Williams are shown below.

December 2012

Peerage for the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
26 December 2012
The Queen has been pleased to confer a Peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on the Most Reverend and…

Archbishop's interview with Canterbury's 'Outlook' magazine
10 December 2012
In an exclusive interview for Outlook magazine, Amber Stark, Lianne Carpenter, Jack Cheeseman and Chloë…

November 2012

Archbishop tells women “this is still your Church”
20 November 2012
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke of his “deep personal sadness” that General Synod…

"A potentially liberating moment for all of us": Archbishop urges Synod to vote for women bishops
20 November 2012
Shortly before the historic vote at General Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury said it was "time…

General Synod: Archbishop's sermon at Eucharist - 'Let heart speak to heart'
20 November 2012
In his Eucharist sermon at General Synod in London this morning, Archbishop Rowan Williams prayed for…

Archbishop awarded freedom of the city of Canterbury
17 November 2012
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was today awarded the freedom of the city of Canterbury a…

September 2012

BBC Radio 4's "Something Understood: The Better Part of Valour"
16 September 2012
In "Something Understood" for BBC Radio 4, Mark Tully talks to the Archbishop of Canterbury about some…

Telegraph interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams
8 September 2012
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke to Benedict Brogan from the Daily Telegraph newspaper,…

June 2012

Evening Standard interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams
18 June 2012
An interview by Richard Godwin, published in the Evening Standard.

March 2012

Archbishop speaks at Springfield Church, Surrey
18 March 2012
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about his life and work as he answered questions in front of the Springfield…

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