Bishop’s head dress – a contribution to a debate

What Bishops wear on their heads has been causing some discussion, some seem to be very bothered about it, most probably are not. Well, it is the silly season so we offer some thoughts. A low church minister has written about the issue here. He is particularly concerned about Bishops’ mitres. So we thought we’d think about alternative headgear. Perhaps the examples of past Archbishops can offer historical insights.

Where better to turn than the Guard Room of Lambeth Palace, the official home of the Archbishop of Canterbury? This notable room contains many portraits of Archbishops in a variety of headgear. Here are some.








What a wide choice for the modern bishop to consider (although the red hat of Archbishop (Cardinal) Pole may be frowned upon). Perhaps the colourful mitres of today could be replaced by the sedate and sober wig of the type favoured here by the fresh faced Archbishop Moore. The slightly jaunty hat of Archbishop Laud adds a gentle and different  option to the selection.

And more could be proposed. Here is  Archbishop Cosmo Gordon Lang, seen here as Bishop of Stepney, or Bishop Winnington Ingram of London, photographed in the street with a colleague. Both bishops are resplendent in top hats, and what about Bishop Winnington Ingram’s companion?

The Canterbury Cap, once quite common among Anglican clergy, has not gone entirely out of fashion although Watts and Co. no longer seem to offer them in their catalogues.

Archbishop Ramsey preferred the episcopal version of the Canterbury cap, seen here, and it is also the choice of the current Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali. Perhaps it will reappear in England on the heads of bishops.

But what about the current Archbishops of Canterbury and York? In the midst of this discussion and debate about episcopal head dress have they a distinctive contribution to make? Can we turn to them for a lead?

Well here are two rather different types of headgear worn by the current archbishops, Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Sentamu.

We simply offer these two photographs of current Archbishops’ head dress to the current debate for consideration.

Perhaps someone would care to comment below.

(And on the topic of bishops what about their names? Thoughts at a previous post here)


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
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6 Responses to Bishop’s head dress – a contribution to a debate

  1. Derek Palmer says:

    The Canterbury Cap is still available from Wippells, and I have one hanging in my cloakroom! 😎

  2. Linda Fox says:

    All those years of training and I still thought it was the message that mattered. How wrong can one girl be?!

  3. fluff35 says:

    There was a make-your-own-mitre workshop at Greenbelt this year. It was only open to children, unfortunately. Maybe you should get the template and have a go…

  4. Fr Simon Thorn says:

    The soft academic cap from Shepherd and Woodward at £10 has to be better than the black flat cap worn by so many clergy. Not quite a Canterbury cap but close enough.

  5. Tony Bellows says:

    Here’s a collection of the solemn and silly with ratings!

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