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 position of Bishop of Truro is vacant.
The Right Reverend Tim Thornton, the former Bishop of Truro, has recently been installed as Bishop at Lambeth.
The Right Reverend Dr Chris Goldsmith continues as Bishop of St Germans.
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.