The Archbishop of Canterbury is the “Primate of All England” (the “first bishop” of England), effectively serving as the head of the established Church of England and, symbolically, of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Today the archbishop has four main roles:
- He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, which covers the east of the County of Kent and the extreme north-east of Surrey. Founded by Augustine of Canterbury in 597, it is the oldest bishopric in the English church. The main duties of this role are delegated to the suffragan Bishop of Dover (who in this capacity is called the “Bishop in Canterbury”).
- He is the metropolitan bishop of the Province of Canterbury, encompassing 30 dioceses in the southern two-thirds of England. The remaining 14 dioceses in the north of England fall within the Province of York, under the authority of the Archbishop of York. Four dioceses in Wales were under the Province of Canterbury until they were transferred to the dis-established Church in Wales in 1920.
- As “Primate of All England”, he is the chief “religious” figure in the Church of England, whilst the British sovereign is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
- As symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop is recognised as primus inter pares (“first among equals”) of all Anglican primates.
Justin Welby is the current and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
List of Archbishops of Canterbury During The Anglo-Saxon period
|Archbishops of Canterbury|
|Robert of Jumièges||1051–52|
List of Archbishops of Canterbury The After the Norman conquest
|William of Corbeil||1123–36|
|Richard of Dover||1174–84|
|Richard le Grant||1229–31|
|Boniface of Savoy||1241–70|
|Thomas Arundel (restored)||1399–1414|
List of Archbishops of Canterbury After the Elizabethan settlement
|Charles Manners Sutton||1805–28|
|John Bird Sumner||1848–62|
|Charles Thomas Longley||1862–68|
|Archibald Campbell Tait||1868–82|
|Edward White Benson||1883–96|
|Randall Thomas Davidson||1903–28|
|Cosmo Gordon Lang (from 1942, Baron Lang of Lambeth)||1928–42|
|Geoffrey Francis Fisher (from 1961, Baron Fisher of Lambeth)||1945–61|
|Arthur Michael Ramsey||1961–74|
|Frederick Donald Coggan||1974–80|
|Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie||1980–91|