News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Christ Church Oxford.jpg
Christ Church Oxford.jpg
World News

Christ Church College installs first female Dean following 'difficult' few years

by Sophie Drew

A new dean has been installed at Christ Church, Oxford, following years of uncertainty.

Rev Canon Professor Sarah Foot was installed on 8th July, and is the first woman to be chosen for the role.

However, when her appointment was announced in March, the newly-installed dean confirmed that her time at Christ Church would be limited.

Rev Canon Foot has agreed to undertake the role until a government review into the Oxford college is complete. The post will then be assumed by someone new, as they implement new procedures. 

Prof Martyn Percy left in 2022, in a controversy over safeguarding concerns - which have since been overturned. 

Prof Percy accused the Church of England of failing to protect church leaders.

Christ Church was issued with a warning by the charity commission, over concerns of excessive spending related to the ensuing legal case.

A government review into the matter, undertaken by Dominic Grieve KC, is still being conducted.

Earlier this year a review of the governance was published.  Several recommendations were made in it, but a consultation into how to implement the changes – and further aspects of the review – is still underway.

The new Dean, Professor Foot, is the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford University and a priest serving as a Residentiary Canon at Christ Church.

Her teaching and research have focused on women in religion, medieval monasticism and the early history of the English Church. She is currently working on a study of the life and work of the Venerable Bede - a monk and scholar who wrote during the Early Middle Ages, and became known as "The Father of English History".

Delivering a sermon at her instalment, Foot reflected on the recent “difficult" years.

She said: “There have been periods in the past when the institution has gone through extremely difficult times. But it has always recovered and restored itself.

“Everyone here is aware that Christ Church is just emerging from a notably painful period. Many who care deeply about this place have found the events of recent years profoundly distressing.

“Yet we too shall recover and restore ourselves. The governance review presents us with exciting opportunities to fashion price structure fresh, preserving our unique status as both a college and Eagle under a different sort of leadership, and with some new internal structures.

“I'm proud and honoured to play a part in this process."

Despite the difficulties the institution has faced, Rev Canon Prof Foot highlighted why her instalment is such a pivotal moment in the history of Christ Church. She said: "When I first preached, as now, I had history on my mind, and the weight of responsibility of being the first woman in an historic role.

“Then I reflected on a figure from the distant past... known in modern English as Frideswide... [who] established a religious community on or near this site.

“She led her congregation in worship, and the search for wisdom and understanding while running their affairs and their landed estates. As a new member of the prayerful community at the heart of Christ Church in 2007, I found it profoundly humbling to reflect that prayer had first been offered here by women and by lay women... like me."

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email