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New Bishop of Salisbury Announced

by Michael Ford last modified 23 Apr, 2012 09:55 AM

Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields to be Bishop of Salisbury. Bishop-designate gives first interview to best-selling author Bill Bryson on Diocesan website.

New Bishop of Salisbury Announced

The Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop-designate of Salisbury

Her Majesty the Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Nicholas Roderick Holtam BD MA FKC Hon DCL, Vicar of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in the Diocese of London, for election as Bishop of Salisbury in succession to the Right Reverend Dr David Staffurth Stancliffe on his resignation on the 30th September 2010.    

Nicholas Holtam appeared at a briefing at Salisbury Cathedral School at 11am on Tuesday followed by a photo opportunity in front of the Cathedral. The Diocese had first sight of its new Bishop via You Tube where an exclusive interview between the new Bishop and bestselling author Bill Bryson has been uploaded. Following a visit to Coombe Bissett Primary School at 2pm, and Homington Farm at 3pm, he was at Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral at 5.30pm, where he was joined by many to pray with him.

“I am honoured and delighted to be asked to become Bishop of Salisbury. I look forward enormously to becoming part of a great diocese with all the opportunities and challenges ahead, trying to draw people towards God and recognizing Him at work in the lives of people in Wiltshire and Dorset” the Bishop-designate said. He added, “St Martin-in-the-Fields is built of Portland stone and the floor is Purbeck marble, so I feel I’ve been walking in the Salisbury Diocese for some time!”

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, who has represented the Diocese throughout the appointment process, said: “This is a truly wonderful appointment. The Diocese of Salisbury is immensely fortunate to have as its new bishop someone of such breadth and depth in his priestly ministry, and the Church of England will be better for having Nick Holtam in the House of Bishops. We are very much looking forward to welcoming Nick and Helen and their family to share with us the life of Wiltshire and Dorset.”

The Bishop of Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings, added: “Nick's ministry is deeply rooted in prayer. Out of this flow concern for the poor, desire for Church growth, perceptive writing, visionary leadership and long term friendships, so he will be an excellent colleague to work with. We have known each other since 1978, and I greatly look forward to welcoming Nick and Helen to the Diocese and to sharing with them in God's mission.”

Robert Key, Chair of the Diocesan House of Laity, sent a welcome on behalf of the lay people of the Diocese: “The women, men and children who are regular churchgoers in our Diocese – all 44,000 of them in Wiltshire and Dorset – will be delighted that Nick Holtam is to be our new Bishop."

As a member of the Crown Nominations Commission and as a Lay Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, Robert said that the criteria set out by churchpeople had been met. “Nick is a holy man of tried and tested faith and with an exceptional service of ministry. He will be a giant of a leader of our flock. For nearly 1000 years Bishops of Salisbury have been at the eye of the storm of church and state in England. Nick Holtam will be a shepherd to his flock and a powerful voice in Church and State affairs."

Nicholas Holtam (aged 56) grew up in North London and was educated at The Latymer Grammar School Edmonton. He read Geography at Collingwood College, Durham and trained for ordination at King’s College, London and Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his first curacy from 1979 to 1983 at St Dunstan and All Saints Stepney in the diocese of London. From 1983 to 1988 he was a Tutor at Lincoln Theological College where he taught Christian Ethics and Mission. From 1988 to 1995 he was Vicar of Christ Church and Saint John with Saint Luke’s Isle of Dogs at the heart of London’s Docklands in the diocese of London during a period of immense change. Since 1995 he has been Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, in the Diocese of London.

Nicholas is married to Helen who is half Danish, a committed Quaker and a Maths teacher. She grew up in South Africa and Kenya before her parents returned to England to live in Devizes where she went to the Grammar School and her father, the late Ted Harris MBE, was Secretary to Wiltshire Community Council. Nicholas and Helen have four adult children. He is a regular broadcaster and has written two books – ‘A Room with a View: Ministry with the world at your door’ (SPCK 2008), and ‘The Art of Worship’, a book of meditations and prayers in response to favourite paintings in the National Gallery (to be published by Yale University Press, July 2011). He and Helen enjoy the theatre, museums and galleries. Nicholas is a cyclist and walker who raised over £100,000 by walking the South Downs Way for the Renewal of St Martin’s.

The Bishop-designate will first have to be ordained and consecrated as a bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the summer. This will be followed by an official welcome in Salisbury at a date yet to be published, though it is expected to be at the start of October.

The congregation and community around St Martin-in-the- Fields will be informed this morning and Nicholas Holtam’s last Sunday as their Vicar will be July 10. This will mark an end to one of the most effective and pioneering capital city ministries of recent times but opens new doors for both St Martin’s and the Diocese of Salisbury.


For further information please contact
Jonathan Ball
Bishop’s Chaplain and Press Officer:
07500 872081/01722 334031

Notes to Editors: 

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 the 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 the Diocese click here 

The foundation stone of the present church of St Martin-in-the-Fields was laid by the then Bishop of Salisbury in 1721. It is the parish church of Buckingham Palace and Downing Street as well as of many of London’s homeless people. Its popular Cafe in the Crypt, concerts, shop and events business extend the ministry of the church commercially creating a sustainable community of church, charity and commerce. St Martin’s is a cosmopolitan community with English and Chinese speaking congregations and strong links across the Anglican Communion. It was the home of religious broadcasting and has a unique relationship with the BBC. St Martin’s has recently completed an award winning £36 million buildings renewal, “for the common good in service of humanity to the greater glory of God”.

For more information on St Martin-in-the–Fields please click here 

Bishop's Personal statement

YouTube interview with Bill Bryson

Latest photos 


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