Hundreds gather to bid farewell to Dean Frances Ward at her last service

The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury with husband Peter, centre, with from left, The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury, Canon Precentor Philip Banks, Canon Matthew Vernon, Bishop John Waine and Bishop Tim Stevens
The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury with husband Peter, centre, with from left, The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury, Canon Precentor Philip Banks, Canon Matthew Vernon, Bishop John Waine and Bishop Tim Stevens

The Dean of St Edmundsbury held her last service on Sunday, before moving up north to continue her studies.

The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, 57, was Suffolk’s first female Dean when she moved to Bury St Edmunds seven years ago.

A smiling farewell from The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury seated beside The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

A smiling farewell from The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury seated beside The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

She is moving north with her husband, Peter, a retired paediatrician who is training for the priesthood.

She said: “I am leaving the Cathedral after seven rich and fulfilling years, when we’ve seen a great deal accomplished, strengthened by the Grace of God, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, as we seek to be a beacon of faith, hope and love in Suffolk.

“I shall be heading north to join my husband Peter as he trains for the priesthood and as I do so I shall miss the people of the cathedral, the town of Bury St Edmunds and the county of Suffolk enormously, and wish the cathedral the very best into the future.”

The mother-of-four has plans to write a book about the Church of England and will start a PhD on Edmund Burke at Durham University next year.

Warden Liz Steele presents The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury with a farewell gift

Warden Liz Steele presents The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury with a farewell gift

The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “Frances has led the cathedral with passion and energy over these past seven years. I will miss her thoughtful support and encouragement as well as her ability to challenge us.

“There are many whose lives have been touched by her vision and her perceptive spiritual wisdom and I know she will be greatly missed. I wish her and Peter well as they faithfully embrace this next stage of God’s call to them.”

The Rt Revd Graeme Knowles, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese, will serve as Acting Dean until a permanent successor is appointed next year.