New Dean of Wakefield Cathedral Announced

18th May 2018

The new Dean of Wakefield in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds will be the Revd Canon Simon Cowling, it was announced today.

Simon  is currently the Rector of Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales, where he has helped enhance its reputation as a place of worship and as a visitor destination.

In the year to September 2017, 162,000 visitors and worshippers came through the doors – an increase of more than 50 percent on previous numbers.

And now Simon is to take charge at Wakefield Cathedral – a move he relishes.

“It is a huge privilege to have been invited to become the next Dean of Wakefield and to join colleagues on Chapter in the next phase of the cathedral’s journey under God,” Simon said.

“Wakefield Cathedral describes itself on its website as ‘a place of conversation for all faiths and none’.

“I am looking forward immensely to joining the conversation, to learning more about the many good things that are going on in the cathedral, the city and the district, and to engaging with them.”

Making the announcement, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, said:

“I’m delighted at the appointment of Simon Cowling as the next Dean of Wakefield.

“Simon has wide parochial and cathedral experience, and, working with good colleagues, he will bring significant gifts, knowledge and wisdom to the task of leading Wakefield Cathedral”.

The sub Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, Canon Tony Macpherson, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Simon to our life and ministry here in Wakefield Cathedral, and look forward to his leadership.

“This marks an exciting new phase for us, as we look to him to build on our engagement with our diocese, city and district.”


Expanding on his upcoming role, Simon said:

“Wakefield is one of three cathedrals, alongside Bradford and Ripon, which serve the young and vibrant Diocese of Leeds.

“Under the leadership of Bishop Nick Baines, the Diocese of Leeds is acquiring a reputation for innovative, creative, and fresh thinking about the ways in which the good news of Jesus Christ might be communicated to our generation.

“My hope, prayer, and intention is that, under my leadership as Dean, Wakefield Cathedral will play its full part in maintaining and growing that reputation, not least by exploiting to the full the beautifully reordered interior of the cathedral which owes so much to the vision and energy of Dean Jonathan Greener.

“But Christians can never hope to commend to anyone the value of what goes on inside their buildings unless we are deeply interested in what goes on outside them.

“So one of my key responsibilities as Dean will be to ensure that the Cathedral’s ministry is as available beyond its doors as it is within them.”

Simon describes himself as “not so much an Essex man, as an Essex toddler.

He moved from Brentwood, Essex at the age of two and grew up in Huddersfield.

A degree in Classics at Cambridge University was followed by six years teaching in the south-east.

In 1988 he moved with his wife Anne and their growing family to Lincoln for his theological training.

Ordained in Ripon Cathedral as deacon in 1991 and priest in 1992, Simon’s roles since ordination have been characterised by contrast: as a curate in Chapeltown and Far Headingley, Leeds; as a vicar in Roundhay, Leeds; as Precentor and Residentiary Canon at Sheffield Cathedral; and most recently as Rector of Bolton Abbey.

These roles have given Simon significant experience of inner city, suburban, and rural communities and a deep understanding of the rich variety of cultures and contexts which are served through the ministry of the Church of England.

Nationally, Simon has served the Church of England as a member of the Executive of the Association of English Cathedrals, and he is currently a vocations adviser for Bishops’ Advisory Panels and Chair of the Greater Churches Network.

In the Diocese of Leeds he is Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches, and an elected member of the Diocesan Board.

Simon and Anne have three adult children: Felicity, Faith, and Chad.