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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 932,000. 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.

Our Vision – Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow

Since his arrival as Bishop of Salisbury in 2011, Bishop Nicholas has engaged the Diocese in a careful and prayerful process of exploration and discernment. Through ‘Let us Talk’ and through Deanery Visits, he invited us to explore who we are as a Diocese, where we are going and how God wants us to move forward, leading to the recent formation of a new Diocesan vision – Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow.

Hope is a defining characteristic of Christian believers. Hope holds together our past, present and future and gives meaning and purpose to our existence. 

Our priorities
The Bishop has recently visited all Deaneries to share his overview of the Diocese and get people telling stories of hope. He left the local church with three challenges to answer in their own parishes, benefices and deaneries:

  • What do you pray for?
  • Whom do you serve?
  • How will you grow?

Our ambitions
As a Diocese we want:

  • A thriving Christian presence in every community and a continued commitment to the parish system
  • To grow church membership by 10% over the next 10 years
  • To increase vocations to ordained ministry by 60% over the next 10 years

Our Prayer

God our Father, renew our hope. By the Holy Spirit’s power strengthen us to pray readily, serve joyfully and grow abundantly, rejoicing in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Diocese has 450 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 195 Church of England Schools, 40 of which are now academies. 41,000 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.

Document Actions
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).