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Welcome to our diocesan website. This page gives a general introduction to the Diocese of Salisbury, its history and organisation.

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The Anglican Diocese of Salisbury is the seventh largest in area in the Church of England, extending over 2000 square miles, with a population of about 880,000. Within this diocese there is wide diversity in geography between the many urban areas and the deeply rural ones.

The diocese includes 95% of Dorset, 75% of the unitary authority of Wiltshire, the unitary authority of Poole, 40% of the unitary authority of Bournemouth, a small part of west Hampshire and one parish in Devon.

Poole is the largest urban area, followed by Weymouth & Portland, Salisbury and Trowbridge (the county town of Wiltshire), with many smaller
towns including Dorchester (the county town of
Dorset), Ferndown and Devizes.

In Wiltshire especially, the rural areas are grouped round a number of market towns to which the rural population looks for shopping and most services.

For a short history of the Diocese, click here.

Vision and Purpose

This Diocese is committed to collaborative working and to developing the ministry of all the baptised.

The Vision has been for a Church changed and revitalised to meet the great challenges of the 21st century; a Church confident in faith and growing in local communities.

Three key strategies underline this vision:

  1. To adopt the five marks of mission of the Anglican Communion as the underlying themes of our work
  2. To commit to be a learning and teaching Church for all believers
  3. To work with a vision of developing a body of ministers, lay and ordained, stipended and voluntary, parish-based and engaged in fresh expressions of church, and deployed in response to the mission and ministry needs of our whole communities.

These strategies have been the foundation of the Deanery Strategic Plans for the mission and ministry of each of our 19 deaneries for the last five years.


The Diocese has 448 parishes under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Salisbury, assisted by the Bishop of Ramsbury and Bishop of Sherborne.

The Bishop of Ramsbury is assisted by the Archdeacons of Sarum and Wilts; the Bishop of Sherborne by the Archdeacons of Dorset and Sherborne.

Parishes are grouped into 19 deaneries: four in the Archdeaconry of Sarum and six in Wilts; five in the Archdeaconry of Dorset and four in Sherborne.

The parishes look after 574 places of worship and the Diocese has one of the highest number of listed church buildings in the country. 87% are listed in Grade I or II*.

Salisbury Cathedral, with its Dean and Residentiary Canons, is a busy centre of the diocese, with an iconic status in national life.

The  diocese has 196  Church of England Schools: 178 primary schools, 6 middle schools and 12 secondary schools. 40,000 children in the diocese attend church schools, with 6 of our schools having academy status. Nationwide, there are 4605 primary and middle schools with 25% of that total being Church of England: thus, 16% of all Church of England primary and middle schools are in the Diocese of Salisbury. One of our secondary schools is a joint Roman Catholic - Church of England VA school.

The affairs of the parishes are managed by Parochial Church Councils (PCCs). Members of the parishes meet together in the Deanery Synod.  This body elects the members of the Diocesan Synod. Members of Deanery Synods elect diocesan representatives to the General Synod of the Church of England.

International Links

Strong links exist with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Evreux in France and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia.

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This diocesan map shows our 19 Deaneries (clusters of parishes) grouped into the Archdeaconries of Wilts (green), Sarum (pink), Sherborne (yellow) and Dorset (blue).
2015 Map of Diocese
This diocesan map shows our 19 Deaneries (clusters of parishes) grouped into the Archdeaconries of Wilts (green), Sarum (pink), Sherborne (yellow) and Dorset (blue).