Vicar’s vision of creating ‘lots of mini Cromers’ in his new job as bishop

Cromer vicar the Rev Canon Dr David Court tries his bishop's mitre for size. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Cromer vicar the Rev Canon Dr David Court tries his bishop's mitre for size. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The new Bishop of Grimsby is humble about his rise from a Norwich council house schoolboy to a mitre-wearing leader of 30,000 churchgoers.

Rev Canon Dr David Court and his wife Ann in Cromer. Picture: SUBMITTED

Rev Canon Dr David Court and his wife Ann in Cromer. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

'Boys from the Heartsease don't become bishops,' says 55-year-old David Court, current vicar of Norfolk's biggest parish flock at Cromer.

David's old school on Norwich's Heartsease estate Photo: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

David's old school on Norwich's Heartsease estate Photo: ARCHANT ARCHIVE - Credit: Archant © 2007

I know, because we grew up two doors apart in Finch Close in the 1960s and 70s when the area had a tough reputation, and youngsters' career paths did not steer towards being senior clergymen - or newspaper editors come to that.

His parents Eric and Eileen were a bricklayer and a cleaner at the nearby Christmas cracker factory.

Young David wanted to be a teacher - inspired by the support he received from his local comprehensive school to go on university, where he did a degree and Phd in chemistry and electro chemistry.


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'Basically I spent three years on a project putting electric current through sugar solution to see what happened.' What happened was a 'brown gooey mess'.

But it was churchgoing college friends at Southampton that got him thinking and 'as a scientist I wanted to discover the truth.'

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Teaching qualifications took him to Oundle - the comprehensive

rather than famous public school.

'I was so grateful for the encouragement I had at Heartsease comprehensive - and wanted to do the same for other people,' he explained.

While teaching he realised that 'God was calling me to teach in a different way.'

After training for the priesthood, a curacy near Kettering and leading a new church at Bournemouth, he first became vicar at St Catherine's at Mile Cross in Norwich which 'seemed right for a boy from a Norwich council estate.'

During his five-year spell there the church grew - something he repeated after moving to Cromer in 2003 - a town previously visited on days off.

'I wanted the church to reflect its community and for people to want to go there.'

On Sunday four differently-styled services were attended by 500 people - doubling its size in his tenure and making it the biggest flock in the county. Job done.

His elevation to bishop was confirmed on Friday - something he 'never expected or sought.'

Canon Court said his family had really enjoyed their time getting fully involved with Cromer - including taking part in carnival, and hosting 2,000 people in carols at Christmas switch-ons.

There were tough times too - such as handling people's emotions, and media interviews, following the double shooting deaths of former mayor Keith Johnson and his wife Andrea, whose wedding he took a few years earlier.

Becoming a bishop in July would also be a challenge he confessed - but it was a 'people job', which suited him.

And he hoped to draw on his work in Cromer to lead 500 churches and 30,000 churchgoers, stretching from industrial Immingham to stately Stamford and the seaside of Skegness.

His aim is to make sure the churches were 'vibrant, honest, authentic Christian communities that serve their communities.'

Canon Court said 'I hope to create lots of mini Cromers.'

The reality of the new role has begun to sink in with the arrival of a mitre - and a realisation that a self-confessed 'ordinary man' who normally combines casual clothing with a dog collar, would have to wear more ceremonial clothing from an everyday purple shirt to full robes.

There is no brand bishop's palace that goes with the new job, but house-hunting is under way for a large family home that can also double as an office and somewhere to entertain.

And Canon Court was keen to ensure that in his new role he 'retains being me, and my ordinariness.'

This week he headed to Westminster Abbey to watch a new bishop being consecrated, so he knows what to expect when his own ceremony comes around at St Paul's on July 25.

His last Sunday at Cromer will be July 6.

He and his wife Ann have two grown-up sons: Jonathan, 27, and Matt 24, and a daughter Naomi, 14.

Canon Court added: 'None of us wants to leave, but we know it is the right thing.'

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