The Woodforde Family

A History of the Woodforde Family from 1300



Bishop James Russell Woodford



James Russell Woodford was born in Henley-on-Thames on 30 April 1820. He died at Ely in Cambridgeshire on 24 October 1885. 

Woodford was educated at Merchant Taylors School and at Pembroke College, Cambridge, of which he was a scholar. He was ordained in 1843 and became second Master in Bishop's College, Bristol, and Curate of Saint John the Baptist, Broad Street, in Bristol. 

Later he was appointed Incumbent of Saint Saviour's, Coalpit Heath in 1845, of Saint Mark's, Easton, Bristol in 1848, and Vicar of Kempsford, Gloucestershire in 1855. 

In 1868 the Crown preferred him to the vicarage of Leeds upon Dr Atlay's appointment as Bishop of Hereford. 

Woodford was several times Select Preacher at Cambridge and was also Honorary Chaplain to the Queen (1867). In 1873 he was consecrated in Westminster Abbey as the 58th Bishop of Ely. 

An accomplished musician, Bishop Woodford's works include Hymns Arranged for the Sundays and Holy Days of the Church of England (1852, 1855).

His published works as a hymnist include:

  • Hymns Arranged for the Sundays and Holy Days of the Church of England, 1852, 1855

  • Sermons, 1853

  • Lectures for Holy Week, 1853

  • Lectures on the Creed, 1853

  • Sermons, 1854

  • Sermons, Charges etc. at later dates

  • The Parish Hymn Book, 1863


Bishop James Woodford was probably the Bishop who had more impact than any other on the modern shape of the Diocese of Ely.

This distinguished Victorian bishop established a theological college in Ely in 1876 which was responsible for training priests for several generations. However, in 1964 it was decided by the Church of England that the college should be temporarily closed due to the decline in the number of graduates and the difficulty of providing the opportunity for theological study in a small cathedral city in the middle of an East Anglian fen. The college was never re-opened and the buildings were consequently sold to the King's School.

Bishop Woodford never married. His London residence was 37 Dover Street in Middlesex.

In 1973 Bishop Woodford House was opened as the Diocesan Retreat and Conference Centre, located in the garden of the former theological college. The portrait of Bishop Woodford (shown opposite) hangs in the entrance hall to the House along with a lock of his hair.


Bishop James Woodford drawing

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Stephen Butt 2004-2006  Rev 14/05/06

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