Bearded Ebor:

In a previous post on the beards of the clergy we commented that the bishops of the Church of England today are not giving the clergy a definitive lead on the style and use of beards.

We therefore thought it might be helpful to look to the past, and look for guidance from Archbishops – this time from our own Northern Province (York) of the Church of England. Does looking at the beards of previous Archbishops of York provide insight on suitable styles for beards for the clergy today?

First of all Edmund Grindal, a farmer’s son from St Bee’s in Cumberland. Grindal was Archbishop of York from 1570 to 1576, having been moved there, it seems to avoid him making trouble in London. In York diocese he found the clergy to be woefully ignorant, they found him to be over strict and punative. He compelled the Chapter of York minster to be more active in the diocese, the Chapter carefully ignored him. Eventually he was made Archbishop of Canterbury. Here he is with a somber and full reformation beard, perhaps an inspiration to the protestant minister of today?

Next we turn to the rosy cheeked Matthew Hutton (Archbishop from 1595-1606), a Lancashire man who had a distinguished academic career at Cambridge. He appears at first to have been a determined Calvinist, who supported protestant ministers from abroad who had not been episcopally ordained being inducted without further ordination into Church of England parishes. (A trend not often acknowledged to be within the history of the Church of England.). Nevertheless  Archbishop Hutton mellowed and became tolerant of Roman Catholics as well as extreme puritans. Perhaps his more gentle and discrete beard reflects this more accepting position.

Next up – Toby Matthew, (Archbishop from 1606-1628), who was notably ambitious as a young man, by the age of 31 he was Vice Chancellor of Oxford University. He was a determined preacher – between 1583 and 1622 he preached over 1,990 sermons, and in 1625, at the age of 81 it was noted that he still preached every week. He was a handsome and witty man, and his beard suggests he was rather content with his lot in life.

Finally we suggest for consideration, John Williams (Archbishop 1641 – 1646 – when episcopacy was abolished).

Williams was a Welshman of charm, eloquence and learning, who had a stormy life as a bishop, being a fugitive for a while and at the end deprived of his post as Archbishop. Nevertheless he was renowned for his ostentatious manner and lavish hospitality. He praised good in religion in whatever form he found it. Williams beard (and wonderful hat) suggests his extravagant and hospitable manner.


So which style of beard is your preference? – The Grindal, the Hutton, the Matthew or the Williams?

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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2 Responses to Bearded Ebor:

  1. James Little says:

    Grindal typified the new Protestant university men who didn’t have a clue about the remaining semi-Pagan Celtic practices in the more rural parishes of the north. They rejected the Catholic continuity with the Pagan past that Pope Gregory had advised Augustine to adopt in the south. Born a Northerner, he should have known better.
    As Cantuar, he antagonised Queen Elizabeth by telling her that, as a mere woman, she should keep out of church affairs. She placed him under house arrest, after being advised that, as Supreme Governor, she did not have the power to depose him.
    The rogues’ gallery at Bishopthorpe is wonderful, isn’t it?
    Then the periwig took over and beards were out of fashion.

  2. Adrian Johnson says:

    I favour the “Hutton” as a good all-rounder; —but cast a jaundiced eye on his unfortunate Chinese-coolie headgear, with its inadequate ear-flaps.

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