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Our Story

In every part of the diocese, our priorities are to grow disciples WIDER in every community, connecting with YOUNGER generations, growing DEEPER roots of faith.  


The story of the diocese is part of the story of the world-wide church commissioned by Jesus and empowered through the gift of Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.

The Good News of Jesus Christ was first brought to this region many centuries ago, notably in circa 627 through a mission led by Paulinus, sent by Pope Gregory in Rome.  He baptised new Christians in the River Trent and went on to become the first bishop of York. Some of the earliest churches were then planted in Anglo-Saxon times, including a church on the site of what would later become Southwell Minister. 

In the medieval period a number of prominent monasteries were also established, becoming communities of prayer and learning, as well as centres of mission, notably in Lenton, Worksop, Welbeck and Thurgarton.

The story of the church has not been without times of painful division and spiritual decline, yet there have also been people of courage and vision who inspired renewal which, by God’s grace, brought about the revitalisation of the church and a fresh wave of mission. Some also became leading figures in social reform, education and health care. 

For twelve hundred years Nottinghamshire was part of the Diocese of York with its own archdeacon in Nottingham. For a short while in the 19th century it became part of Diocese of Lincoln before the Diocese of Southwell was established in 1884, with Southwell Minster becoming the cathedral church. Initially the diocese included Derbyshire, until the further expanding populations meant that a new Diocese of Derby was formed in 1927. In 2005 the diocese was renamed Southwell and Nottingham, recognising that a large proportion of the population lived in what is now one of the core cities of the UK. 

Centuries of Faith in Action

The story of the diocese is told above all through the lives of the people who lived out their faith in good and difficult times, not only through the ministry of the church but in every sphere of life. It includes the vital partnership with other parts of the church and the significant role they have played in deepening faith and bringing renewal. There are some who became well-known in their time such as Walter Hilton of Thurgaton Priory (c1340-1396), Thomas Cranmer of Aslockton (1489-1546) and William Booth born in Sneinton (1829-1912 ) but most were ordinary people of faith who have made a difference though sharing their faith and passing it on to a new generation.

The story continues to unfold as the Holy Spirit equips the church for new opportunities for mission in Jesus’ name. 


The rich traditions and stories represented through these strands of faith are very much part of the diverse worship seen today. Now, the diocese is made up of two Archdeaconries, overseen by the Archdeacon of Nottingham and Archdeacon of Newark. Together, they are made up of over 300 parish churches and missional communities serving rural and urban areas across Nottinghamshire and some parts of South Yorkshire.
In the north, there are the farms of the Dukeries, Sherwood Forest, and the former industrial towns undergoing regeneration and expansion. In the south is the vibrant, multicultural city of Nottingham with its industry, universities, and teaching hospitals of international acclaim. Such diversity and community characterise our nation. It is no wonder that the legend of Robin Hood has come to rest in the heart of England, between rich and poor, town and country, north and south, rebels and reformers.


Our faith calls us to find new ways to introduce people to Jesus in diverse settings that are accessible to all. One of our newest worshipping communities is ‘The Potting Shed’. Located in the middle of the county, this new community of faith gathers for worship in a barn and also supports the mission and ministry of rural churches in the surrounding villages.

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