Rector who boosted attendance at Dales church is unveiled as Dean of Wakefield

The Rector of Bolton Abbey, Canon Simon Cowling, has been unveiled as the new Dean of Wakefield.

The Rev Canon Simon Cowling at Wakefield Cathedral
The Rev Canon Simon Cowling at Wakefield Cathedral

He replaces Jonathan Greener, who was named Dean of Exeter last year.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, made the announcement today, saying Canon Cowling had acquired “a reputation for innovative, creative, and fresh thinking”.

At Bolton Abbey, north of Ilkley, he is credited with increasing the number of worshippers and visitors by half.

Born in Essex, his family moved to Huddersfield when he was two. After completing a degree in Classics at Cambridge, he spent six years teaching in the south-east, moving in 1988 with his wife and family to Lincoln for theological training.

He was ordained in Ripon Cathedral as deacon in 1991 and priest in 1992, and served as a curate in Chapeltown and Far Headingley, Leeds, a vicar in nearby Roundhay and at Sheffield Cathedral.

He said: “It is a huge privilege to have been invited to become the next Dean of Wakefield and to join colleagues in the next phase of the cathedral’s journey.”

Bishop Baines said: “Simon has wide parochial and cathedral experience, and, working with good colleagues, he will bring significant gifts, knowledge and wisdom to the task of leading Wakefield Cathedral”.

Wakefield is one of three cathedrals, alongside Bradford and Ripon, which serve the Diocese of Leeds.