Bishop of Whitby the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson and Archdeacon of Cleveland the Ven Dr Amanda Bloor will lead a pilgrimage walk from Whitby to Lastingham in October 2023 (see foot of page) to mark the centenary of the Suffragan See of Whitby.

The Bishop of Whitby’s area in the Diocese of York is the same as the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, established in the 1100s, but it was only in 1923 that a bishop with particular responsibility for the archdeaconry was appointed.

The Archdeaconry of Cleveland is remarkable for its variety — areas of seaside and industry, moor, vale, market towns and villages — and Bishop Paul says that is one of the great pleasures of ministering in it.

“Like most suffragan bishoprics, Whitby was given the name of a town with a long Christian history, but it does not mean that I have any more duties in Whitby than anywhere else in the northern third of the diocese. It can be confusing — people still think that I live in Whitby or that I am the parish priest there, and I do get asked to recommend the best fish and chip shops.

“As far as I’m aware, Bishops of Whitby have never actually lived in Whitby, as being based there would make many journeys around the area, as well as to York, long and especially difficult in winter. It makes sense to be based further inland.”

First Bishop of Whitby Henry Woollcombe had been Archbishop’s chaplain and a parish priest in Leeds, and served as bishop for 16 years before moving to be the first Bishop of Selby. His successors included Walter Baddeley DSO MC*, who had been Bishop of Melanesia and went on to be Bishop of Blackburn; George Snow; and John Yates, subsequently Bishop of Gloucester.

Bishop Paul remarks, “There are still many in the area who remember being confirmed by Snow and Yates.

“Clifford Barker was another Bishop of Whitby who moved to Selby: I visited him shortly before he died and I will always remember how fondly he held once more the pectoral cross that is passed from one Bishop of Whitby to the next, as if he were greeting an old friend.

“I value very much the return of Bishop Gordon Bates (in post 1983-99) to live in the area, and it was good to be Archdeacon during the term of my immediate predecessors, Robert Ladds and Martin Warner.”

Bishop Paul had long thought that the centenary of the creation of the bishopric of Whitby should be marked in some way, and Archdeacon Amanda suggested a pilgrimage walk.

There have been walks to Whitby, but fewer from there: so they will walk in four self-contained daily sections from St Mary’s Whitby to St Mary’s Lastingham.

People are very welcome to join for as much or as little as they like. Each day will start with prayers (if you prefer, you can come just to the prayers!) and there will be a concluding service on the last afternoon. Please make your own arrangements for refreshments, and for picking up and dropping off at the start and end of each day’s walk.

“Our walk will mark the link between two of our ancient Christian sites. We shall give thanks for the great figures of the past — including Hilda, Chad, Cedd and C├Ždmon from the 600s, and those who suffered through the persecutions of the 1500s — and pray for the life, work and witness of God’s church for today and the future.

“If you are able, please do join us on one or more of the days from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 October.”