Ely Diocesan Board of Patronage

Ely Diocesan Board of Patronage is a statutory body which has the right of presentation to clerical appointments for a number of benefices in the diocese.

Members of the Board are assigned particular responsibility for one or two of these benefices, and become involved in the process of shortlisting, interviews and appointments, encouraging appointments which are compatible with the traditions of each benefice.

Upon the institution and inducting of the new incumbent, the representative of the Board will formally ‘present’ the priest to the benefice. Board members also visit clergy to offer their support during the year.

The exercise of Patronage – i.e. the right to present a priest to the ‘living’ of a particular benefice as its incumbent – is an historic right dating back to the pre-Reformation church. Patrons range from private individuals and corporations (including local landowners whose predecessors would have donated the land on which the church was built) to Diocesan Bishops, Cathedral Chapters, Colleges, Societies, Patronage Boards, the Lord Chancellor and the Crown.

In technical legal terms, the right of presentation is a property right which may be transferred but not sold. Today it forms a system of checks and balances which ensure the continuance of a broad spectrum of belief and practice within the Church.

The historic complexity of the legal position was simplified by the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986, which required the Diocesan Registry to create and maintain a register of Patrons, established a clear process for the appointment and notice procedures in a vacancy including exercising a right of presentation, and transfer of patronage. It also provided that each diocese should have a Diocesan Board of Patronage.

The constitution of Ely Diocesan Board of Patronage follows the prescribed form as required by the 1986 Measure. A copy of it can be viewed here.

Board members are appointed by Diocesan Synod for a six-year term, and the Board elects its own chair. The current chair is the Revd Mary Hancock, who was appointed on 28 March 2017. The members of the Board comprise the Bishop, three clergy members and five lay. The Archdeacon, Rural Dean and Lay Deanery Chair are also invited to attend meetings where business is being considered affecting a benefice in their deanery or archdeaconry.

Ely Diocesan Board of Patronage acts as Patron to the following nine benefices:

  • Cambridge St Mark
  • Walsoken
  • Burwell with Reach
  • Clenchwarton and West Lynn
  • Barton Bendish with Beachamwell and Shingham (alternately with the Bishop of Ely)
  • Cheveley
  • The Orwell Group (jointly with the Bishop of Ely and Trinity College Cambridge)
  • Walpole St Peter with St Andrew (in turns with the Crown)
  • Papworth (having the 7th successive turn as a member of a Special Patronage Board)

Where a benefice is held in plurality, the right of presentation is usually exercised jointly by the Patrons of each affected benefice.

For further information, please contact the Pastoral Secretary, Frances Godden