Each diocese in the Church of England has two legal officers, a Chancellor and a Registrar. The Registrar for the Diocese of Bath and Wells is Roland Callaby, a solicitor who practices at the legal firm of Harris & Harris, based in the Market Place in Wells. He has been the Registrar for the diocese since 2015 and he is also Registrar for Bristol Diocese.
The main areas of work undertaken by the Registry are:
- Advice to Bishops, Clergy, Diocesan boards and Committees, PCCs, Churchwardens and members of the public concerning marriage, baptisms, burials etc.
- Appointments of clergy – preparation of notices, licences and all documents relating to appointment of ordained clergy and lay officers
- Consecrations – preparation of documents for consecration of churches, churchyards and cemeteries.
- Diocesan Records – maintenance of records of churches and clergy, and advising on parish records and churchyard boundaries
- Faculties – preparation of documents for changes or works to buildings and churchyards, and processing contested petitions
- Marriage Licences – issuing Common Licences on behalf of Bishop of Bath & Wells to authorise marriages in parish churches
- Patronage – maintaining registers of patrons, ensuring that the legal provisions are complied with for filling vacant benefices.
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Bath & Wells is Timothy Briden, who is a senior barrister. He is also Vicar General of the Province of Canterbury and Chancellor of the Diocese of Truro. He is a member of the Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod and Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Judges Association.
The General Register Office, along with HM Passport Office, publishes a useful Guidebook for the Clergy which gives comprehensive details about procedures and documentation for marriages, such as how to describe a ‘housewife’ on a marriage certificate or what to do when a mistake is discovered on a marriage certificate.
Guidance on church marriage during the Covid pandemic (January 2021) is available to download below. You can also download the latest guidance from the Home Office on Church marriages of non UK citizens post-Brexit.