fonds JHAB - Records of Lord John Stapylton Habgood, former Archbishop of York

Identity area

Reference code



Records of Lord John Stapylton Habgood, former Archbishop of York


  • c 1950- c 2016 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.17 cubic metres

29 boxes, 50 box files, 38 notebooks and unpackaged material.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Stapylton Habgood was born on 23 June 1927, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Henry Habgood and his wife, Vera Chetwynd Stapylton. He studied pharmacology at King’s College, Cambridge, before completing his theological training at Cuddesdon College, Oxford. He was ordained deacon in 1954 and priest in 1955.

His first curacy was at St Mary Abbots in Kensington, London, from 1954 to 1956. He then served as Vice-Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, for two years before becoming rector of St John’s Church, Jedburgh from 1962 to 1967. In 1967 he became Principal of Queen’s College, Birmingham, now known as Queen’s Foundation.

In 1973 Habgood was appointed Bishop of Durham and in 1983 he was elevated to Archbishop of York, succeeding Stuart Blanch. Regarded by many at the time as a cautious liberal, Habgood had played a key role in the creation of the Alternative Service Book in 1980, simplifying Anglican worship, and had represented the Church of England in the British Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. He was also a member and President of The Science and Religion Forum. As Archbishop he acted as arbiter between proponents and opponents of the ordination of women, masterminding the ‘flying bishops’ scheme in an effort to appease those who disagreed with their own bishops on the matter.

He was widely expected to succeed Dr Robert Runcie as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1991 but lost out to George Carey, a loss that has been attributed to the personal intervention of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He retired from the Archiepiscopate in 1995 and was granted a life peerage as Baron Habgood of Calverton in the County of Buckinghamshire.

Archbishop Habgood’s publications include ‘Religion and Science’ in 1964, ‘Church and Nation in a Secular Age’ in 1983, ‘Confessions of a Conservative Liberal’ in 1988, ‘Faith and Uncertainty’ in 1997, and ‘The Concept of Nature’ in 2002.

He was married to professional pianist Rosalie Mary Anne Boston until her death in 2016. The couple have four children. Their son, Francis, is Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was transferred to the Borthwick Institute from Lambeth Palace Library in 2005. Further records were gifted to the Institute by Lord Habgood in 2016.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records of Lord John Stapylton Habgood, former archbishop of York, including papers from his time as an undergraduate, early years as a clergyman, and subsequently as Bishop of Durham, 1973-1983, Archbishop of York, 1983-1995, and on Parliamentary and other committees after his retirement in 1995.


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Selected records are closed and may not be accessed without royal permission. The remainder are are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the 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
  • Latin

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 records concerning Habgood's role as Archbishop of York are deposited at the Borthwick Institute as part of the York Diocesan Archive (Reference: YDA).

Records concerning Habgood's involvement with the Alternative Service Book, 1968-1981, are deposited at Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections (Reference: GB-0036-HAB), as are the archives of the Bishops of Durham (Reference: Durham Diocesan Records GB-0033-DDR).

Related descriptions

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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, 19.04.17.




Accession area