Press & Communications

05 Aug 2005

The Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster Abbey

Born: 1941
Married to Natalie
One daughter

After Dulwich College, London he graduated first at Oxford and later at Cambridge with an Oxford MA Literae Humaniores and a Cambridge MA in Theology.

After university he spent four years as a curate at Luton Parish Church. He was appointed tutor at Ridley Hall Cambridge (1970) and later became Chaplain. In 1972 he became a research fellow of Sheffield University gaining a PhD in 1974. Throughout this time he was also Curate of Ranmoor Parish Church.

His career continued with the Chaplaincy of Chelmsford (1974-1978), deputy director Chelmsford Cathedral Centre for Research and Training (1974-1982), and director of training for the Chelmsford diocese (1976-1984). He was Canon Residentiary of Chelmsford Cathedral from 1978 to 1987.

He became Dean of Bristol (1987-1996) and was appointed Dean of Westminster in 1997. One of the first Abbey occasions following his appointment was the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. More recent events include the funeral of the Queen Mother and services following 9/11, as well as the July 2005 60th anniversary commemoration of World War II.

He has written and lectured extensively in Europe and North America. In 1991 he wrote with E.R. Shapiro, Lost in Familiar Places: Creating new connections between the Individual and Society (Yale University Press). In 1990 he had written Ministry and the Media(SPCK). Another joint work in 1993 was Responsibility, Accountability and Ethics in Organisations.

In 1995 he edited Managing the Finance and Fabric of Cathedralsfor the Headley Trust. Dr Carr has also published a number of books and articles on theological and pastoral issues.

Westminster Abbeywas founded in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor – the 1,000th anniversary of his birth is this year. The current Gothic structure was begun by Henry III in 1245, added to in the sixteenth century by Tudor monarch Henry VII, who built the stunning Lady Chapel with its breath-taking vaulted ceiling, and completed with additions to the West front and towers in the eighteenth century.

The Abbey is, of course, most famous for being this nation's "coronation church", since the first coronation of William The Conqueror in 1066. Over the last 1000 years, 38 sovereigns have been crowned here, the most recent being our current Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

The Abbey never charges people who want to worship. But does rely almost entirely on paying visitors and tourists for its income. The costs of running the Abbey and maintaining the historic buildings are covered largely from these admission fees - Westminster Abbey receives no funding from the Crown or the Church and only occasional project support from the State.