fonds CHOW - Papers of Dame Christian Howard

Identity area

Reference code



Papers of Dame Christian Howard


  • [1950s-1990s] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.5 cubic metres

25 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Rosemary Christian Howard, known as Christian, was born on 5 September 1916, the eldest daughter of Geoffrey Howard of Castle Howard, a Liberal politician, and his wife Ethel Christian Methuen. Both of her parents died in the 1930s.

Educated privately, she studied for the London University certificate of religious knowledge in the late 1930s, obtaining her certificate in 1939. In 1943 she gained a honorary Lambeth Diploma in Theology and spent the next two years teaching Divinity at Chichester High School. She returned to Yorkshire in 1945 to work as a licensed lay worker in the Diocese of York, having lost two of her three brothers in the Second World War.

Between 1947 and 1979 she was secretary of the York Diocesan Board of Women’s Work, re-formed as the Board of Lay Ministry in 1972. She was also made a lay canon provincial of York Minister in 1969. Nationally, she represented the Diocese in the Church Assembly from 1960-1970 and in the General Synod from 1970-1985. She was also a delegate to the assembles of the World Council of Churches in 1961 and 1968 and served on the council’s Faith and Order Committee between 1961 and 1975, becoming its first woman vice-moderator. In 1979 she was awarded a Lambeth MA.

Dame Christian also played a key role in the campaign for the ordination of women. In 1972 she wrote a report for the General Synod entitled ‘The Ordination of Women to Priesthood’, the first of three she would write on the subject, based on years of scholarship. In 1979 she became a founder member of The Movement for the Ordination of Women which campaigned nationally for fifteen years, only disbanding in 1994 when the first women priests were ordained in the Church of England.

She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1986 in acknowledgement of her ecumenical work. She was also District Commissioner of the Girl Guides.

She died at York on 22 April 1999.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1995. A further addition was made to the archive in 1997.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of Dame Christian Howard, 1950s-1990s, including personal correspondence and papers concerning her work with the York Diocesan Board of Women’s Work; Board of Lay Ministry; Ministry for the Ordination of Women; Council for Accredited Lay Ministry; York Diocesan Ecumenical Council; Monday Group; York Evangelistic Council; Board for Mission and Unity; Ordination Candidates Council; Social Responsibility Council; Social Action Committee; Local Ministry Council; Malton, Norton and District Fraternal; Bulmer and Malton Deanery; Bulmer and Malton Synod; and Wydale Hall (the York Diocesan Retreat House).


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued. Please contact the Borthwick Institute for further information.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further papers of Dame Christian Howard are deposited at Lambeth Palace Archives in London. These include correspondence with Archbishop Donald Coggan, Archbishop Michael Ramsay, papers relating to her work with the Board for Mission and Unity, and papers concerning the ordination of women.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 17.02.17.




Accession area