Legal Office

The Diocesan Registry is the legal office for the Diocese of Durham. The main areas of work which are undertaken in the Diocesan Registry are:


The giving of advice to Bishops, Archdeacons, Diocesan Boards, Committees and Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils and dealing with general enquiries from members of the public in relation to marriage, baptism, burial and other matters of Ecclesiastical Law.


Preparation of Licences, Permissions, Institutions, Collation documents for all Clergy and some lay appointments within the Diocese.

Diocesan Records

The maintenance of records relating to Churches, Clergy etc.
NB.  We do not hold any records relating to baptisms, burials or parochial records, so cannot help with family research enquiries. These are held at Durham County Archivists Department at County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL. 


The granting of Faculties to authorise changes or alterations to Churches and Burial Grounds.

Marriage Licences

The issue of Common Marriage Licences under the provisions of the 1949 Marriage Act.


Maintenance of a Register of Patrons of the Diocese.

Consecrations of Churches and Churchyards

All advice relating to the above matters is given free of charge to Parishes and Diocesan officers and in any case of difficulty relating to Ecclesiastical Law you are encourage to contact the Office at the address below.

The members of staff are based at Smith Roddam Solicitors, who have wide experience of Ecclesiastical Law, the Law relating to Property, Trusts and Charities and all other legal areas.

Contact the Diocesan Registry

Diocesan Registrar:  Mr Philip Wills LL.M.

Telephone: 01388 603073      
Fax: 01388 450483

Mrs Elaine Arands:

Email: (Secretary to the above)
Telephone: 01388 603073
Fax: 01388 450483

Postal address for all of the above: 

56 North Bondgate, 
Bishop Auckland, 
Co. Durham  DL14 7PG
DX 60150 Bishop Auckland  

The Diocesan Chancellor

The Diocesan Chancellor is the Principal Legal Officer for the Diocese of Durham.

The Offices of Vicar General and Official Principal of the Diocese are combined with the Office of Chancellor. The Chancellor is primarily responsible with judicial matters and for this reason is entirely independent of the Bishop and the Diocesan Committee structures although in certain cases, he is an ex-officio Member of them such as the Diocesan Synod.

The Chancellor’s principle functions are as Judge of the Consistory Court in dealing with all Faculty Matters relating to consecrated and licensed places of worship and to burial grounds.

The Chancellor is responsible for the granting of Common Marriage Licences under the Marriage Act 1949 and for the appointment of surrogates for that purpose.

The current Chancellor is Mr Adrian Iles, and the Registry Office acts as the Chancellor’s Office for Communications on legal matters, so all communications are to be sent to him via the address above.

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