Chester, diocese of

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Chester, diocese of. Chester was one of the seats of the Mercian bishops, though the bishopric was variously styled as Chester, Coventry, or (later) Coventry and Lichfield. In 1075 it was removed from Lichfield to Chester by Bishop Peter, but his successor, Robert de Limesey, moved it to Coventry (1102). After the dissolution of the monasteries, the see was refounded by Henry VIII (1541), and comprised the archdeaconries of Chester and Richmond (taken from York), covering a huge area of the north-west of England. Initially in the province of Canterbury, it was transferred to York the following year. The church of the former Benedictine abbey of St Werburgh, transformed in 1092 from a church of secular canons, became the new cathedral, rededicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The see was much reduced in the 19th cent. The Yorkshire portion went to the new see of Ripon (1836), Lancashire north of the Ribble to the new Manchester diocese (1847), and Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lakeland Lancashire transferred to Carlisle (1856). The few Welsh parishes went to St Asaph, and Liverpool, a new archdeaconry, gained diocesan independence in 1880.

A. S. Hargreaves