Due to financial difficulties and scandals which have shaken the Church of England's cathedrals for the past 20 years, seven of its ancient churhces are lacking deans. The 13th century Salisbury Cathedral has been vacant for nearly 15 months since the retirement of the Very Rev Derek Watson. Wells Cathedrals continue without a dean for eight months, Norwich for six, Rochestor for five and York Minster for three. St Albans and Carlisle are also lacking a senior cleric.
Frustration is growing among senior clergy as the task of appointing new deans add to the the financial problems of the cathedrals, which are currently under immeasurable pressure. "I have never known this many vacancies," said the very Robert Willis, chairman of the Deans' Conference.
Downing Stree is responsible for the appointment of most deans. Before making the appointmens, the candidates are extensively discussed with a panel of consultants.
"Ten years ago the job was very attractive. But it has become exceedingly busy and responsible now and it could involve a great deal of administration. Many clergy just don't want to become involved in that," said the Very Rev Trevor Beeson, the former Dean of Winchester.