Pump Court barrister named as first female chancellor of Norwich Cathedral

Pump Court Chambers barrister Ruth Arlow has been appointed as the first female chancellor of the diocese of Norwich.

Ruth Arlow
Ruth Arlow

Arlow, a specialist in family and civil law with a focus on ecclesiastical law, is thought to be the youngest diocesan chancellor in the UK.

She was installed on Sunday (27 January) at Norwich Cathedral by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James. She succeeds Judge Paul Downes, who retired in November 2012.

She has been a barrister since 1997 and has been involved in the establishment of the ecclesiatical law collection at Middle Temple Library.

The chancellor is the judge of the ecclesiastical court, or consistory court, which each Church of England diocese has. The chancellor is appointed by the bishop by letters patent, following consultation with the Dean of the Arches and the Lord Chancellor.

Much of the chancellor’s work deals with developments carried out on land such as consecrated churches and churchyards. Arlow’s predecessor Downes oversaw a much-publicised inquiry into the use of the church tower in the Norfolk village of Postwick to transmit wi-fi signals.

James said in a statement: “Ruth Arlow is one of the ablest of the younger generation of ecclesiastical lawyers. Her knowledge of the law and her understanding and commitment to the Church in preserving its great heritage of buildings and using them wisely in contemporary mission and ministry means that she has much to offer us.

“It’s an added pleasure that Norwich has, we understand, the youngest diocesan chancellor in the country, but Ruth has a wise head on her young shoulders.”

Arlow commented: “My experience as deputy chancellor in two dioceses has taught me a great deal about the privilege and responsibility borne by the Church of England both in its mission to the nation as a whole and as caretaker for a substantial part of the nation’s historic and architectural heritage. My roles as parishioner, Sunday school leader and chair of governors of a Church of England school have taught me about the pressures and joys of daily parish life and the experience of the faculty jurisdiction from both ends of the telescope.”