The beards of the clergy

Beards are being talked about! The Times review recently described Ólafur Ólafsson,  the Icelandic star of Trapped, as ‘big, hairy ..the new heart-throb.’ Christopher Oldstone- Moore has just published a scholarly history of facial hair Of Beards and Men.

A former Bishop of London, himself bearded, has written on the Church’s changing views on beards in a recent article in the Church TimesRW bHe writes “Such is the whirligig of time that the Swedish episcopate is now clean-shaven, while the Church of the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has recovered the hirsute tradition of earlier ages.”

In 2002 the RC journal The Tablet commented upon the first bearded Archbishop for centuries under the not very complimentary title ‘His Hairiness.’

+DIs there a lead from bishops on beards? How are they engaging with this aspect of contemporary culture?

A few diocesan bishops have beards. In the far north, the Episcopal Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness has one, as does his colleague the Bishop of Edinburgh. The Bishop of Liverpool may have one (see here). A while ago Bishop Nigel McCulloch, then Bishop of Manchester, tried a beard, but now is clean shaven. His successor, Bishop David Walker, (pictured here) has stayed with it longer.

In style none of the bishops currently favour the distinctive Van Dyck style chosen by episcopal predecessors such as  Archbishop Laud in the seventeenth century, although Bishop Adrian Newman may be heading in that direction. The full and luxuriant form grown by Archbishop Cranmer and Archbishop Grindal, is certainly out of favour.


So, as at present it seems that the bishops are finding their way.

Meanwhile the RC church is taking an initiative with its own ‘ Catholic beard balm.’

As we wait to see what fashions develop we offer for consideration a photograph of beards in different styles worn by two members of St Chrysostom’s Church – one lay, one clerical.

And let’s not forget that, when we worship at St Chrysostom’s, saints are surrounding us and are ever ready to inspire us. Here are some of them:

Beards 2

Now there are some beards for thought! Do you recognise them?

Which style beard do you prefer?

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
This entry was posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Catholic and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The beards of the clergy

  1. The story is told of a sharp exchange between Lord Quickswood and his cousin Algernon Cecil. In spite of the fact that his father was Lord Salisbury, Britain’s last bearded prime minister, Lord Quickswood could not abide his cousin’s beard, inquiring “Algernon, why have you grown that beard?” Algernon replied, “Well, why not? Our Lord is supposed to have been bearded.” Quickswood retorted, “That’s no answer. Our Lord was not a gentleman.”

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