Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

“Gifted communicator and teacher” Nicholas Henshall appointed Dean of Chelmsford

15th Nov 2013

Nicholas Henshall

Chelmsford Diocese and Chelmsford Cathedral are delighted to announce the appointment of The Revd Nicholas Henshall as the new Dean of Chelmsford who will lead Chelmsford Cathedral.

Mr Henshall is currently acting Archdeacon of Richmond and Vicar of Christ Church on the Stray, Harrogate.

Nicholas said: "I am very excited that Bishop Stephen has invited me to be the next Dean of Chelmsford, and daunted in the best way by the responsibilities.

“I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues in the Diocese and at the Cathedral and getting to know churches and communities across Essex and east London. 2014 is the centenary year of Chelmsford becoming a Cathedral. Building on the splendid foundations already laid in those first 100 years, I am eager to see how the Cathedral can develop its mission and ministry in the city, the region and the Diocese at the beginning of what is for us a new century."

Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, commented: “I am delighted that Nicholas Henshall has agreed to be the new Dean of Chelmsford. This is a time of great change and opportunity for the Church in Essex and East London.  Nicholas will bring to the leadership of the Cathedral and the senior leadership team of the Diocese gifts and experience from his wide ranging ministry as Parish Priest, acting Archdeacon, Cathedral Canon and before that Evangelism Adviser.

“Nicholas is a gifted communicator and teacher and will help the Cathedral connect with, equip and inspire churches and communities right across our Diocese. 

“We welcome him and his wife Christine and their family to Chelmsford and look forward to all that God will do through his ministry with us.”

The new Dean will be Installed at Chelmsford Cathedral on Sunday 2 February 2014 at 3pm.

Nicholas succeeds The Very Revd Peter Judd who retired as Dean of Chelmsford last month.

The acting Dean of Chelmsford is Revd Canon Ivor Moody, the Vice-Dean.

More information

1. Role of the Dean of Chelmsford

The Dean of Chelmsford leads Chelmsford Cathedral. He directs the life and work of the Cathedral and chairs the Chapter. The Dean has the title, “The Very Reverend”.

2. Brief biographical notes

Before coming to Harrogate, Nicholas Henshall (51) was a parish Priest in inner city Newcastle for 14 years, and then on the staff of Derby Cathedral for six. Nicholas has a background in local radio and worked as a presenter on BBC Radio Derby for five years. He writes regularly on spirituality and pastoral theology for the international Roman Catholic weekly The Tablet. Nicholas was born and grew up in Manchester. Before ordination he was a student in Athens, Oxford and Rome. Nicholas is married to Christine, and their three children are all in their first year at university.

3. Detailed biography

After nine years as a student Nicholas was ordained Deacon (1988) and then Priest (1989) in Newcastle Cathedral and served for four years as Assistant Curate (or ‘apprentice vicar’) in Blyth, a former mining community on the North East coast. Nicholas got married to Christine in 1991 and for 10 years (1992 – 2002) was Vicar of Scotswood, an area of multiple deprivation in the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne, where all three of their children were born and did a lot of their growing up.

In Scotswood Nicholas was very much a community priest – both building an unusual worshipping community where midweek congregations of young people outnumbered Sunday congregations of adults; and leading a network of community projects employing more than 25 community workers. Nicholas spent a large amount of his time working in local schools and alongside a range of both public and voluntary sector organisations focused on regeneration. Nicholas also held various regional roles in the Church and in the voluntary sector through this time.

Between 2002 and 2008 Nicholas was Canon Precentor of Derby Cathedral, responsible for the core life of a busy city centre church, whilst also working one day a week for the BBC as a presenter on BBC Radio Derby. In Derby, alongside his main duties, Nicholas was involved again in many of the city centre, inter-faith and regional networks.

In 2008 Nicholas became Vicar of Christ Church, Harrogate, a big change after a life-time of living and working in big cities. In Harrogate Nicholas leads a large and thriving congregation, and is also involved in regular work with four local primary schools and three local secondary schools, as well as a range of responsibilities in the wider community and the wider Church. From February 2013 he has also served as acting Archdeacon of Richmond, responsible for 180 churches and 68 clergy through a major time of pastoral reorganisation.

Nicholas has a particular background in communications. He still does some work with the BBC and writes regularly for the Roman Catholic international weekly, The Tablet. He has a wide range of theological interests, and is a passionate hill walker and cook.

4. Chelmsford Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd is the mother church of the Diocese of Chelmsford and the seat of the Bishop of Chelmsford.

The heart of the Cathedral is the daily rhythm of worship. The Cathedral is also a large and popular venue for concerts, lectures and school events.

The Cathedral is the “flagship” of the Church of England in Essex and East London. It has a parish, city and regional role.

The total number of people welcomed into the Cathedral for services, concerts, events and private visits in 2012 was 97,660 (up from 90,300 in 2011).

This includes 2,555 primary / prep school children and 180 secondary school students who attended organised educational events.

In addition to the regular pattern of worship, approximately 36,890 attended special services, 1,500 came to non-musical events (eg graduation ceremonies and speech days) and 17,240 came to concerts held in the Cathedral. There were an estimated 17,650 other visitors.


5. Appointment process

The position was advertised in the Church Times and the appointment was made by a panel chaired by Michael Hindmarch DL. This included the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Dean of St Paul’s and representatives of Chapter, the Bishop’s Council and the College of Canons.

6. Chelmsford Diocese

The Diocese of Chelmsford is the Church of England in Essex and East London.

The Diocese is led by The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, assisted by three Area Bishops (Barking, Bradwell and Colchester) and seven Archdeacons (Barking, Chelmsford, Colchester, Harlow, Southend, Stansted and West Ham).

Founded in 1914, Chelmsford Diocese is a Church region of more than 1,500 square miles that stretches from the East coast to the Thames and ranges from countryside to towns and suburbs.

It comprises the county of Essex, the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock, and the east London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

With a population of nearly 3 million people Chelmsford is the second largest diocese in England.

About 5,200 children and adults a year are welcomed into the Christian faith through baptism, and nearly 1,000 are confirmed.

The Diocese is the largest voluntary organisation in Essex and East London.

About six in ten people in Essex and East London say they are Christian.

The average weekly church attendance of adults, young people and children in this Diocese is around 42,000.

There are around 2,300 weddings in the Diocese and 6,500 funeral or cremation services a year.

The Diocese comprises 470 parishes, 589 churches and 373 stipendiary clergy.

Nearly 30,000 children and young people attend church schools.

An estimated 100,000 young people share in assemblies, chaplaincy, clubs and youth work.




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