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Stephen Sykes
Bishop of Ely
In office1990 – 1 September 1999
PredecessorPeter Walker
SuccessorAnthony Russell
Other postsPrincipal of St John's College, Durham (1999–2006)
Regius Professor of Divinity (Cambridge; 1985–1990)
Van Mildert Professor of Divinity (Durham; 1974–1985)
Ordination1964 (deacon)
1965 (priest)
Consecration2 May 1990
by Robert Runcie
Personal details
Born(1939-08-01)1 August 1939
Died24 September 2014(2014-09-24) (aged 75)
Marianne Hinton
(m. 1962)
Children1 son; 2 daughters
ProfessionAcademic (Professor of theology/divinity)
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge

Stephen Whitefield Sykes (1 August 1939 – 24 September 2014) was a Church of England bishop and academic specialising in divinity. He was Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham University from 1974 to 1985, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University from 1985 to 1990. Between from 1990 and 1999, he served as the Bishop of Ely, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Ely. He was the Principal of St John's College, Durham from 1999 to 2006. He served as an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Durham during his time as head of St John's College and in retirement.

Early life

Sykes was born on 1 August 1939 in Bristol, England; his father was principal of one of the city's theological colleges.[1] He was educated at Monkton Combe School, then an all-boys independent school in Bath, Somerset.[2] He matriculated into St John's College, Cambridge in 1958 to study theology. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree 1961.[3][4] He then trained for ordination at Ripon Hall, Oxford.[3]


Ordained ministry

Sykes was ordained deacon in 1964 and priest in 1965.[5] In 1964, he returned to St John's College, Cambridge, his alma mater, as dean of the college chapel.[6] When he moved to Durham in 1974, he became a residentiary canon of Durham Cathedral. Having returned to Cambridge in 1985, he was given a corresponding honorary canonry at Ely Cathedral.[4] He served as a curate of St John the Evangelist's Church, Cambridge, from 1985 to 1990.

On 2 May 1990,[7] he was consecrated as the Bishop of Ely.[8] He became a Lord Spiritual through seniority and served in the House of Lords from 31 August 1996 to 31 July 1999.[9] He stepped down from this position on 1 September 1999[7] and returned to education.[10] From 1999 to 2014, when he was head of St John's College and during retirement, he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Durham.[11]

From 1991 he was a member of the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England. He served as its chairman from 1996 to 2002.

Academic career

In addition to serving as dean of St John's College, Sykes was a member of the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge.[4] He was an assistant lecturer in divinity from 1964 to 1968, then a lecturer in divinity from 1968 to 1974.[11] In 1974, he was appointed as the Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham University. In 1985, he returned to Cambridge University to take up the chair of Regius Professor of Divinity. During a break from academia he served as a bishop: he was Bishop of Ely from 1990 to 1999. In 1999, he was appointed the principal of St John's College, Durham. St John's is both a college of Durham University and an Anglican theological college. He retired in 2006.[11]

Later life

Following his retirement, Sykes remained living in Durham.[4] In his later years, he developed a neurological condition that confined him to a wheelchair.[1]

Sykes died on 24 September 2014, aged 75.[4][12] He was survived by his wife and children, though his wife died eight weeks later.[1] His funeral was held in Durham Cathedral, Durham on 10 October 2014.[13] He was later buried in Cambridge at a woodland burial site.[1][14]

Personal life

In 1962, Sykes married Marianne Hinton, known as Joy. Together they had three children; one son and two daughters. Their son, Richard, is a barrister and both daughters, Joanna and Juliet, trained as teachers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Right Rev Stephen Sykes". The Times. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Stephen Whitefield SYKES". People of Today. Debrett's. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Stephen Sykes, 1939–2014". Discover St John's. St John's College, Cambridge. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Right Reverend Stephen Sykes – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  5. ^ "The Right Reverend Stephen Sykes". News & Events. Diocese of Ely. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Bishop of Ely pays tribute to Bishop Stephen Sykes". News & Events. Diocese of Ely. 26 September 2014. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b Diocese of Ely – Stephen Sykes Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "No. 52063". The London Gazette. 1 March 1990. p. 2765.
  9. ^ "Mr Stephen Sykes". Hansard. UK Parliament. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  10. ^ "No. 55844". The London Gazette. 10 May 2000. p. 5127.
  11. ^ a b c "Stephen Whitefield Sykes". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Archbishop Mourns Bp. Sykes". The Living Church. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  13. ^ "In Memorium Stephen Sykes". Durham Cathedral. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  14. ^ Day, Jordan (26 September 2014). "Former Bishop of Ely, Rt Rev Stephen Sykes, dies, aged 75". Ely News. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Hugh Turner
Van Mildert Professor of Divinity (Durham)
Succeeded by
Daniel W. Hardy
Preceded by
Henry Chadwick
Regius Professor of Divinity (Cambridge)
Succeeded by
David F. Ford
Preceded by
David V. Day
Principal of St John's College, Durham
Succeeded by
David Wilkinson
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Peter Walker
Bishop of Ely
Succeeded by
Anthony Russell
This page was last edited on 3 March 2021, at 08:44
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