New Dean of Wells Announced

New Dean of Wells Announced

Monday 15 January 2024

On the morning of Monday 15 January 2024 at 9.00 a.m., Downing Street announced that the King has approved the appointment of the Reverend Canon Toby Wright, Team Rector of Witney and Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, to be appointed as Dean of Wells, in succession to the Very Reverend Dr John Davies.

He will be coming to the Diocese of Bath and Wells from the Diocese of Oxford, where he is currently Team Rector for the Benefice of Witney. From 2020-23 he was seconded to the Dorchester Episcopal Area team and during part of this secondment served as Acting Associate Archdeacon.

Staff, volunteers, and members of the community gathered informally this morning in the Nave to join the Bishop and Chapter in welcoming Revd Toby to the Cathedral. There was a sense of real warmth, joy, and gratitude as the Bishop, Revd Toby, and the Acting Dean addressed those gathered. The new Dean was greeted with applause, which was reprised when the Bishop offered thanks to the Revd Anne Gell for her unwavering committment in the role of Acting Dean this past year.


The Revd Toby Wright said,

“I am thrilled, and humbled, to have been invited to come and serve among such a wonderful group of people at Wells Cathedral in this amazing place of prayer which was built to the glory of God. The Cathedral has an important role in supporting the mission and ministry of the bishop and of the whole diocese as we live and tell the story of Jesus. I am looking forward to listening with you, as we discern God’s call for the future, build a culture of hope and discover afresh God’s joy in our lives. As we offer hospitality to all in the name of Jesus Christ, I hope to continue to foster a sense for everyone who comes into contact with the Cathedral that they belong and they matter.

“I am profoundly grateful for the colleagues and friends in Oxford Diocese with whom I have journeyed, and I look forward to getting to know the people of the Cathedral and the Diocese of Bath and Wells.  My family has strong roots in the area and we are looking forward to enjoying Somerset in the years to come.”

The Rt Revd Michael Beasley, Bishop of Bath and Wells, welcomed today’s announcement, he says:

“The last year has seen the whole Cathedral community – chapter, staff, volunteers and congregation – working together brilliantly to enable Wells Cathedral to step out onto the next stage of its journey of faith. Toby’s appointment will enable us all to take that work forward. The many gifts Toby brings will add wonderfully to all that is already happening through the contributions of so many different people. His arrival will mark a new page in our life together. I’m looking forward with anticipation and excitement towards all that the future will bring.”

Toby will spend the day in Wells. He will be shown around the Cathedral and meet with volunteers and staff and also visit Wells Cathedral School. His last engagement of the day will be to attend Evensong at the Cathedral.

The Rt Revd Gavin Collins, Bishop of Dorchester says,

“Toby is an exceptionally gifted, committed and experienced priest.  Throughout his years as Team Rector of Witney, Toby has demonstrated liturgically excellent worship, hospitality, welcome, creative community engagement and fun as the clear hallmarks of his ministry and of the life he has enabled and led across his benefice. I am thrilled and excited for Toby as he moves to this important new post, and thrilled also for the leadership and vitality he will bring to the Cathedral and the Diocese of Bath and Wells in his ministry as Dean.”

The Acting Dean of Wells, the Venerable Anne Gell, said:

“On behalf of the Cathedral Chapter we are delighted that Toby has accepted the invitation to serve here as Dean. This is a wonderful Cathedral to be part of with an historic past and an exciting future. I’m sure I speak for the whole community, here in Wells and across the county and diocese, in welcoming this announcement and looking forward to Toby’s arrival.”

Toby was educated at New College, Oxford, and trained for ministry at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He served his title at St Peter with St Mary, Petersfield, in the Diocese of Portsmouth and in 2002 he was ordained priest.

From 2004, Toby served as Priest in Charge at St John Chrysostom with St Andrew, Peckham, in the Diocese of Southwark, and in 2006 he was appointed Vicar, also serving as Area Dean of Camberwell.

In 2009, Toby took up his current role as Team Rector for the Benefice of Witney and served as Area Dean of Witney from 2013 to 2019. In addition, Toby is Warden of the Sisters of the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin, Wantage.

Toby is married to Sally, who is also ordained. They have 2 children, Caspar (15) and Felicity (12). They also have a small Welsh Cockapoo, Libby. Toby has spent a number of years studying Bowen’s Family Systems Theory through the Bowen Centre in Washington DC; he loves music and enjoys cooking, reading, walking, supporting the England rugby team (from the sofa).

For more information and photos, please see the Diocese of Bath and Wells website.

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