New Dean of Christ Church takes her stall

The Revd Canon Professor Sarah Foot was formally installed as the new Dean of Christ Church on Saturday in a ceremony attended by members of the college, the cathedral congregation, the diocese, and the local community, as well as friends and family.

Dean Foot, whose appointment was approved by the King in March, is the first woman to hold the post in the almost 500 years of the history of Christ Church.

New Dean of Christ Church takes her stall

Her installation as Dean took place during a service of Choral Evensong, which followed the formal swearing of oaths and declarations in the presence of the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft.

The service began with an Introit commissioned by Dean Foot for the occasion and composed by an Oxford-based contemporary composer, Cheryl Frances-Hoad. The words, from Psalm 127, begin ‘Except the Lord build the house their labour is but lost’. 

The choir – a combination of the Cathedral choir and Frideswide Voices – also sang Psalm 27 (‘The Lord is my light’); the Herbert Howells Collegium Regale setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis; and Parry’s I Was Glad, familiar to many for its use in coronations, most recently of King Charles.

During the service, members of Governing Body were asked to affirm the appointment of the new Dean. She was then presented to the Bishop for his commendation and blessing, before she was led to the Dean’s stall and formally ‘installed’ by the Acting Sub Dean, the Ven. Jonathan Chaffey. The Dean was welcomed to her new role by representatives of various communities of the city and county, church, cathedral school and university. At this point the congregation was invited to greet her with applause - which they did at length.

Dean Foot preached a sermon, in which she spoke of the history of Christ Church and its founder, St Frideswide, the last woman to lead of the community. Drawing on the readings (from the Book of Job and the letter to the Hebrews) she spoke of the way she would turn to Jesus – ‘the pioneer and perfecter of faith’ – as she undertook her new role.

The service was followed by drinks in the cathedral garden and dinner in the Great Hall, where a specially composed grace was sung by the Lay Clerks.

 New Dean of Christ Church takes her stall