A Diocese or See is a geographical grouping of parishes under the care
of a Bishop. Cornwall had its own Bishop at St Germans, near Saltash,
until the latter part of the 10th Century. The Cornish Diocese was then
held jointly with the Devon Diocese at Crediton and then in 1050 at Exeter.
Effectively the Cornish Diocese ceased to be a separate entity. Over 800
years later in 1877, after 30 years of intense lobbying, the Cornish Diocese
was re-established at Truro. The Diocese of Truro covers the whole of
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly plus two parishes in Devon!
Edward White Benson was the first Bishop of Truro (1877 - 1883). He was
previously Headmaster of Wellington College and then Chancellor of Lincoln
Cathedral. It was his vision and energy that really established the new
Diocese of Truro and the building of this wonderful Cathedral. From 1883
until his death in 1896 he was Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1880 Bishop
Benson created the ‘Service of Nine Lessons and Carols’ which
for over 120 years has formed part of the Cathedral’s traditional
worship on Christmas Eve.
The current Bishop of Truro is the Right Reverend Tim Thornton. He is the Church of England’s spiritual leader in the diocese. Bishop Tim is the 15th Bishop to hold this office since the Diocese of Truro was founded in 1876.
The Bishop’s chair, known as a ‘cathedra’, is situated with the cathedral.
Bishop Tim is keen to grow the church and has advocated bold moves which have been agreed by the Diocesan Synod to ensure a dynamic future for the diocese, as well as being keen on actively pursuing ways of doing church differently.
He said: “The vision the diocese has accepted is to discover God's kingdom and grow the church. We are in a situation in which we need to have the confidence given to us by your faith to proclaim the good news and to speak out into the wider community the story of God’s love freely given for all.”
Bishop Tim is also keen for the church to make a strong contribution to social justice and the wider community. As well as being chairman of the Children’s Society, he was also the joint chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Hunger in the United Kingdom.
“Discovering God’s kingdom is about being open to what God is doing in his world. This is Gods world and we have a duty to speak out especially on the part of those who have no voice. We must ensure the prophetic work of the church is kept to the fore.”
Bishop Tim is assisted by the Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith, who has been the Bishop of St Germans and suffragan bishop to the diocese since May 2013.
Truro was not the only candidate for the siting of the Cathedral. Bodmin
had been the medieval ecclesiastical centre of Cornwall, while the original
Cornish See of St Germans also put forward a claim. The vicar of St Columb
also offered his church! The merits of each place were much discussed
and argued over. Eventually a Bill establishing the Diocese of Truro was
finally passed by Parliament, on the 11th August 1876. The site chosen
in Truro was where the Parish Church of St Mary’s stood. To build
a Cathedral on this site meant that a number of properties on the northern
side of the proposed development had to be bought and demolished. This
was duly completed by 1880.