New rector joins Norfolk's Royal group of churches

Rev Canon Dr Paul Williams

Rev Canon Dr Paul Williams, who is taking over as rector of the Sandringham group of churches in Norfolk - Credit: Submitted by Diocese of Norwich

A new rector has been appointed to a group of churches where the Queen and members of the Royal Family worship.

Rev Canon Dr Paul Williams is currently the vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey in the Diocese of Gloucester. He will take up his new post in the Sandringham group of churches in September.

He will take over from Rev Jonathan Riviere, who has held the post for 18 years. 

HM the Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Rev Jonathan Riviere walking to Wolferton Church for mor

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and The Rev Jonathan Riviere walking to Wolferton Church for morning service in January 2014 - Credit: Ian Burt

Dr Williams said: "Although I take with me many happy memories of my time in Tewkesbury and the Diocese of Gloucester, I am greatly looking forward to joining the Sandringham group of parishes as together we worship and witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, said: “Canon Paul Williams brings much from his experience at Tewkesbury Abbey and in Gloucestershire, and I am sure that his pastoral care and preaching will be appreciated by parishioners.”

Most prominent among the flock is the Queen, who attends one of the churches on the estate each Sunday when she is staying in Norfolk.

The Royal Family leaves Sandringham Church after the Christmas Day service

The Royal Family leaves Sandringham Church after the Christmas Day service in 2014 - Credit: Antony Kelly

On Christmas Day, thousands traditionally pack into the grounds around the church of St Mary Magdalene, where the service is broadcast via a PA system.

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Canon Paul was born in Chatham, Kent and has attended the universities of St Andrews and Cambridge. He trained for the ordained ministry at Westcott House. After being appointed Assistant Chaplain at Selwyn College, Paul served a curacy at St Stephen, Chatham and an incumbency at St Augustine, Gillingham, before becoming Personal Chaplain to the Bishop of Rochester.

He moved to Tewkesbury in 2003, where he has been Area Dean and is Honorary Canon of Gloucester Cathedral. As Vice Dean of the Priory of England and the Islands, Paul is closely associated with St John Ambulance.

He is a Commander of the Order of St John, a published author, and recently appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire. He is married to Catherine, who is also a priest, and they have two adult children, Alice and Harry.

The Sandringham Group of churches comprises the parishes of Wolferton, Hillington, Castle Rising, Sandringham and Flitcham.