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Bishop Tucker Memorial Event

Durham Cathedral

Thursday 25th September 2014

The Archbishop of York will read in his native tongue of Luganda at a special memorial service for his namesake at Durham Cathedral next month (Sunday 5th October)


The service marks the centenary of the death of Bishop Alfred Tucker, former Bishop of Uganda and Canon of Durham Cathedral, after whom Archbishop John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu is named.

Having been ordained Bishop in 1890, Tucker served first as Bishop of East Equatorial Africa until 1897 when he became Bishop of Uganda. He was renowned for trying to work with the local culture and customs in Uganda rather than trying to replace them with European attitudes. He is credited with helping to increase the number of Christians in the country from 200 on his arrival to 83,000 by the time he left and would possibly have preached to the ancestors of the current, Ugandan-born, Archbishop of York.

The Archbishop of York said: “The Centenary of Bishop Alfred Tucker’s death is of great significance. I say this not only because my parents chose to name me after him, but because I believe his missionary spirit is exactly what the Church in England must rediscover today. It was when he was curate at St Nicholas’ here in Durham that Tucker first said he heard ‘the watchword Africa for Christ ringing in my ears’. As Bishop in Uganda he strove to work with all the tribes of Uganda and not to replace their cultures. Sending out catechists and evangelists, ordaining local priests, and founding East Africa’s first Theological College, Tucker laid strong foundations for future growth. As we recall his remarkable life and ministry in Eastern Equatorial Africa we should pledge ourselves afresh to the task of mission and evangelism, and find ways to ensure the Gospel is heard and received with joy here and in our day”.

Bishop Tucker served 20 years in Uganda before returning in 1911 to Durham, where he had previously served as curate at St Nicholas’ Church. He loved the City and was offered a canonry by Durham Cathedral, where he served until his death in 1914 and where he is now buried.

The memorial service on 5th of October takes the form of Evensong and Procession beginning at 3.30pm, during which the Cathedral Choir will sing African music and Archbishop Sentamu will read in Luganda and preach to the congregation. Bishop Tucker’s ceremonial spear and shield will also be on display during the service. 

For more information on this and other services at the Cathedral please visit



Notes to Editors

Durham Cathedral is a Christian Church of the Anglican Communion, the shrine of St Cuthbert, the seat of the Bishop of Durham and a focus of pilgrimage and spirituality in North East England.  It inhabits a treasured sacred space set in the natural and human landscape of the World Heritage Site.

Its purpose is to worship God, share the gospel of Jesus Christ, welcome all who come, celebrate and pass on its rich Christian heritage and discover its place in God’s creation. 

The building of Durham Cathedral commenced in 1093 and took around 40 years to complete.  It replaced a Saxon cathedral built by the Community of St Cuthbert after it arrived in Durham in 995 following its flight from the ‘Holy Island’ of Lindisfarne 80 miles north of Durham.   The body of St Cuthbert is enshrined in the Feretory at Durham Cathedral and the Tomb of the Venerable Bede is in The Galilee Chapel.    The Cathedral existed as a Benedictine Monastery until 1539 when it became one of the Church of England’s major Cathedrals.  

It continues to be a focus for pilgrimage and attracts over 600,000 visitors each year from all over the world.  The Cathedral has internationally important collections of artefacts, manuscripts and books that include St Cuthbert’s coffin and his pectoral cross; superb examples of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship. Durham Cathedral is often referred to as the best example of Romanesque architecture in Europe, or as American writer Bill Bryson put it, ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth.’ 

Since its construction Durham Cathedral has been alive with people and a centre for community activity.  The Cathedral is home to a vibrant worshipping community and continues to celebrate the English Choral Tradition with sung services by its highly acclaimed Choir.   As a new century unfolds Durham Cathedral aspires to enrich the many different ways in which it engages with people and organisations.  It is cherished equally by those who live, work and study in the region and by those who come to visit. 

Open Treasure:   Durham Cathedral is undertaking a project called Open Treasure – a major development which will transform the way the Cathedral buildings are experienced, understood and used to the glory of God, both as working buildings and to the benefit of those who visit.  

The first phase of Open Treasure was completed in autumn 2012.  New Choir Vestries are now in use and a new Cathedral Shop with a fully accessible Foyer was opened by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson in November of that year.  The Treasures of St Cuthbert exhibition is not on display at present but as part of the next phase of Open Treasure, a new exhibition that includes these wonderful Anglo-Saxon artefacts will be created in the Monastic Great Kitchen.   This will be the culmination of a journey through some of the Cathedral’s claustral buildings and a sequence of exhibition spaces, showcasing the Cathedral’s collections of paintings, carved stones, textiles, metalwork and manuscripts in a way that tells the story of Christianity in the North of England, monastic life in Durham and the life of the Cathedral today.    

Durham Cathedral’s Open Treasure project has been awarded £3.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The public appeal will help the Cathedral to complete the funding needed for the project.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 35,000 projects with more than £5.5bn across the UK.



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