This glossary is designed to explain or clarify some of the terms used in the text; these terms refer to the church, clergy, architecture and aspects of the monuments. This glossary is on-going and will be added to or revised at intervals. I would welcome any modifications or clarifications that visitors to the site may think useful. If any point is at all unclear, please let me know. One thing I have discovered in writing this glossary: I would not like to compile a dictionary!
Abbot The head of a major religious house of the Benedictine Order or certain orders of Canons Regular. Normally elected for life by the monks
Collegiate Church A church served by a chapter of canons and/or prebendaries but is not a cathedral
Canon A member of a body of clergy serving a cathedral or collegiate church
Canon Regular Member of a community of canons living under a rule, usually that of St Augustine
Cathedral A church which contains cathedra or throne of the bishop of the diocese. The head church of the diocese.
Cathedrals of the Modern Foundation In the nineteenth century with  the increase of population in the industrial centres, especially in the north, many of the old dioceses had become too large to manage so twenty new cathedrals were created. Some of these were former monastic churches, others were parish churches while three new cathedrals were built. At Coventry a fourth new cathedral replaced, yet integrated with, the bombed out parish church. These new creations are termed Cathedrals of the Modern Foundation.
Cathedral of the New Foundation At the time of the Reformation eight Cathedrals were served by monks under a prior or - in the case of Carlisle by canons regular. These were known as cathedral priories. These were reorganised on secular grounds to be served by secular canons under a dean. At the same time five former monastic churches were elevated to cathedral status. Actually the latter number was six as Westminister Abbey served as a cathedral for ten years. These were all termed Cathedrals of the New Foundation.
Cathedral of the Old Foundation At the time of the Reformation nine Cathedral were served by secular canons under a dean; their administration was left virtaully unchanged. They are referred to as Cathedrals of the Old Foundation
Cathedral Priory In the case of a cathedral of the old foundation, the bishop of the diocese was also the titual abbot of the monastry, although the day to day running devolved on the prior, the abbot's deputy. Hence the term 'cathedral priory'.
Cenotaph From two Greek words meaning empty tomb. It refers to a monument to a person or a group of persons who are buried elsewhere or whose remains have never been discovered, as well as an initial tomb for a person reburied elsewhere. War memorials are often referred to as cenotaphs and The Cenotaph refers to the monument in Whitehall to the victims of both world wars. This is a rather wide definition and could refer to wall monuments or tablets although these are never referred to as cenotaphs.
I will use the more restricted meaning of the term in these pages. For example, General Redvers Buller VC is actually buried in the churchyard of the parish church of Credition, Devon and also has an interesting wall monument in the church itself. He is also commemorated by a wall monument of the more usual design in Exeter Cathedral as well as an equestrian statue in the city outside Exeter college. There is an actual cenotaph in the strictist sense in Winchester Cathedral; this is a tomb with tomb chest and recumbent effigy.
Please note that this section is not in alphabetical order but in, hopefully, logical order.

I will use the term cleric for the official term clerk in holy orders in this discussion, so avoiding the cumberson terms clergyman or clergywoman.


There are three  orders - clerical 'ranks' in the present Church of England: deacon, priest and bishop; there were more in the medieval church (q.v. minor orders). These will be dealt with first of all. Words such as vicar, rector, dean, archdeacon etc, are best describes as clerical post or jobs and will be dealt with subsequently.

Deacon - A cleric is first ordained deacon by the bishop. A deacon is licensed  to preach, undertake pastoral duties, baptise and officiate a funerals but cannot celebrate Holy Communion or solemise a marriage, among other items. A cleric normally remains a deacon for a year and is then ordained priest. From Greek - diakonos - servant.

Priest - A priest can carry out all the duties of a deacon but in addition may

Rector -
Vicar -
Parson -
Curate -
Perpetual Curate -
Rural Dean -
Archpriest -
Archdeacon -
Dean -
Canon -

Minor Orders  
Monk Member of a closed community of men who lived according to a rule and were bound by the three vows of poverity, chastity and obedience. Some monks were also ordained priests but not necessarily so
Peculiar A church, parish or parishes which is exempt from the rule of the bishop in the diocese in which it is situated. The Temple Church and Westminster Abbey are examples of peculiars, being exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London. There were formerly a number of peculars such as Wimbourne Minster in Dorset and Masham in Yorkshire. The latter was designated a peculiar because it was said to be too far away for the Archbishop of York to visit. Hence Theakson's Brewery in Masham produce an excellent beer called Old Peculiar. Also spelt peculier. From Latin: peculiaris -  relating to private property.
Prior Either the second in command to an abbot,  or the head of a religious house which was dependent on a larger, more important abbey
Province A major ecclesiatical administrive unit, comprising a number of dioceses. In England there are two provinces, namely Canterbury and York, and the archbishops of Canterbury and York excercise jurisdiction over their respective provinces. The church in Wales was disestablished and separated from the jurisdiction of Canterbury in 1920, becoming the Welsh province of the Anglican communion. The Archbishop of Wales is appointed by the Welsh bishops and holds his post in addition to being bishop of his diocese; there is thus no actual seat of the Archbishop of Wales like Canterbury. The Church of Scotland is organised on Presbyterian lines  but there is also an Episcopal Church of Scotland which makes up the province of the Anglican Communion of Scotland. The bishops are elected by the clergy and the bishops elect a primus - first among equals - who presides over meetings.The primus does not have jurisdiction of the province, that is there is no Archbishop of Scotland. There is also the Church of England in Scotland but let's not get too complicated!