The new Bishop of Winchester has been announced as Rt Reverend Philip Mounstephen.

The announcement came as he visited St Mark’s CE School in Shirley, Southampton, and spoke to students there about his new role.

Bishop Philip will serve as the 98th Bishop of Winchester Diocese, which covers 255 parishes across most of Hampshire and parts of Dorset.

He will be welcomed at a service of installation in Winchester Cathedral later this year.

The reverend was born in Hampshire and studied English Literature at the University of Southampton where he became a Christian.

Following a short career in teaching, he was ordained in the Diocese of Oxford in 1988, where he served his curacy.

He also held posts as deputy general director at the Church Pastoral Aid Society, being the chaplain of St Michael's Church in Paris, and the Chief Executive of the Church Mission Society, before becoming the Bishop of Truro in 2018.

Hampshire Chronicle: Rt Reverend Philip MounstephenRt Reverend Philip Mounstephen (Image: Diocese of Winchester)

Bishop Philip said: “Being a Bishop is all about serving other people and it’s a great honour to be called to be Bishop of Winchester.

"It’s a very ancient role within the church and the life of this country and I feel hugely privileged to be asked to do it.

“The biggest challenge we face is also our biggest opportunity, and it’s how can we best love and serve the people of Hampshire, Bournemouth and Christchurch and all the places that form the Diocese of Winchester.”

The new bishop replaced Tim Dakin who retired in February 2022. His tenure has been controversial with unhappiness across the diocese over his management style. A letter from a group of priests led to the bishop stepping down in 2021.

Bishop Philip was welcomed by Winchester and Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine, who said: “The Diocese has had a very long interregnum so I pleased we now have this announcement. Many congratulations to Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen on his appointment as the new Bishop of Winchester; I look forward to working with him and making him welcome.”
The new bishop spoke to children at the school whose first impressions were positive.

Hampshire Chronicle: The new bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, with the children at St Mark's CE School

Jessica Cookson, a Year 6 pupil, said: “He seems really nice, and quite relaxed. He didn’t seem too stressed about becoming the new bishop.

“I think he will be really good because he seems very kind and I like people who are kind because it makes them easier to talk.”

The 11-year-old had some recommendations for the new leader.

She said: “I think sometimes making the services more interesting for children would be good because occasionally they can be a bit boring when there are not many activities for children.”

Fellow Year 6 Harnett Kaur, 11, added: “I feel like the bishop is a very genuine person he is very calm, very relaxed but also very truthful in saying he’s nervous to start the job which I really think is a good quality to have as a bishop.”