Rowan Williams to be new Canon Precentor at Peterborough Cathedral and Bishop’s Adviser for Liturgy and Worship


Tuesday 12 June 2018



It was announced on 10 June that the Rt Revd Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, has appointed the Revd Dr Rowan Williams as Canon Precentor and Bishop’s Adviser for Liturgy and Worship. She will take up her post in September 2018.

Rowan has been Anglican Chaplain to the University of York since April 2010. During that time she has also been an honorary Minor Canon of York Minster, and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.

Canon Precentor is one of three full time clergy posts at the Cathedral, the others being the Dean and the Canon Missioner. The Canon Precentor is responsible for the worshipping life of the Cathedral, including the choir, and will have pastoral oversight of the congregation. In addition, she will have a role in the wider diocese to advise on liturgy and worship.

Bishop Donald said: “I am delighted that Rowan Williams has accepted our invitation to serve as Canon Precentor at Peterborough Cathedral and Bishop's Adviser for Liturgy and Worship. She brings very strong gifts in worship and liturgy, as well as her own personality and rich experience of priestly ministry. I look forward to welcoming her, and to seeing her gifts used in the Cathedral and more widely in the diocese.”

The Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Chris Dalliston, welcomed the news of Rowan’s appointment: “Worship is the heartbeat of cathedral life, and Peterborough Cathedral is a stunning space with huge potential for imaginative liturgy and creative worship. Rowan has many gifts, and we look forward to welcoming her to the Cathedral community and to working with her.”

Rowan is delighted to be joining the Cathedral: “I'm really looking forward to starting at Peterborough Cathedral, and especially to working with Tansy Castledine as Director of Music. I think we may be the first ever female Precentor/Director of Music combination in a British cathedral. My father's family is also from rural Northamptonshire, and we lived in Weston Favell on the edge of Northampton until I was 13, so I genuinely do feel as though I have a local connection.”

The Revd Dr Rowan Williams will be installed at Evensong on Sunday 16 September 2018 at 3.30pm in the Cathedral.

The Revd Dr Rowan Williams
Rowan first became interested in liturgy and music as a student at King's College, Cambridge, where she studied for a BA in modern languages and sang in as many choirs as possible. During her year abroad, she taught English in a German secondary school, and translated the lyrics of Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo into German for the school choir!

Her professional background is in residential care – working with adults with multiple disabilities and dementia. She then spent seven years as a member of the Community of St Francis, an Anglican religious order, before training for ordination.

Rowan was ordained in the Diocese of Leicester in 2005, where she worked in a deprived urban parish and then as a hospital chaplain, with a particular interest in palliative care. During her curacy she began studying for a PhD in early Franciscan theology, which took seven years to complete (and may become a book one day). She is just finishing a Masters in English Church Music from the University of York, which was a lot quicker and a lot more entertaining to write. She has also written two books – one on Franciscan spirituality and another on the theology of chaplaincy.

Rowan is an enthusiastic, if occasionally despairing, supporter of Welsh rugby; she also used to have a season ticket to Leicester Tigers, after whose ground her cat Welford is named. She also enjoys horses, languages, books and coffee.