History of The Plymouth Cathedral

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                                   Bishop and Cathedral Chapter

Restoration of English Hierarchy

By the middle of the 19th Century, Rome realised that the English Church had become sufficiently recovered and decided to restore the full Hierarchy of Bishops to the country.  Since 1688, there had been four, then eight Districts covered by Vicars Apostolate who, though bishops, did not rule the normal kind of territorial dioceses.  Cardinal Wiseman was appointed to lead this new hierarchy.

Plymouth Diocese formed

As a part of the new structure in 1850, Plymouth Diocese was formed.  It compromised of the counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.  Plymouth was nominated the Cathedral Centre because, although Exeter had itís own historical precedent, there were more Catholics in the town.  Furthermore, a new law prevented the restored Catholic Diocese from using the same titles as had been established Church of England diocese

Plymouthís first Bishop 

Plymouthís first Roman Catholic bishop was George Errington, a Yorkshire man, who had been Vice-rector to the English College in Rome.  As priest at St. Johnís Church in Salford, Manchester he was consecrated there Bishop by Cardinal Wiseman on the 25th July 1851.  In Plymouth, Bishop Errington soon overcame the bigotry of the town towards Catholics and concentrated on building up a Chapter of Canons and the Deaneries of the Diocese.  He provided support for his few priests and supported his missions.  Particularly active in the Stonehouse Mission, he celebrated the Sacraments and visited the sick and dying.  He became especially fond of his weekly visit to Dartmoor Prison.

Canon William Vaughan became the second bishop of Plymouth.  His family provided many bishops for England.  At the Restoration of the Hierarchy he was responsible for the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Apostles in Clifton, Bristol.  There Cardinal Wiseman consecrated him on 19th July 1855.  At that time there were only twenty-three missions and twenty-three priests in Plymouth Diocese.  After his forty-seven years as a bishop, there were one hundred priests, thirteen male religious houses, twenty-eight nunsí houses, four orphanages, twenty-seven elementary schools and five schools for older children.  Truly, Bishop Vaughan was a Founding Father of the Plymouth Diocese.

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