Speaker’s Chaplain

The Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons is Reverend Canon Patricia Hillas, who took up the post in February 2020.

Mr Speaker and Reverend Tricia Hillas. Photo (c) Westminster Abbey

The Chaplain says prayers in the House of Commons Chamber on every sitting day, after which formal business begins. He or she also presides at the weekly services of Holy Communion that are celebrated in Parliament’s chapel, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft.

The Chaplain provides pastoral care to the Speaker, Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff, and performs baptisms and marriages in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, for Members, staff and officials of both Houses. The Chaplain is one of the officials of the House of Commons who takes part in the daily Speaker’s procession, before each sitting day begins.


About Tricia Hillas

Born in Kuala Lumpur to an Indian mother and a British father, Tricia Hillas moved to the UK with her family in 1971. She was ordained in 2002 following a career as a youth and social worker specialising in supporting those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Most recently, she was Canon Pastor at St Paul’s Cathedral. She is the 80th person to formally hold the role of Speaker’s Chaplain, and the second woman, succeeding the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who was consecrated as Bishop of Dover in November 2019 (from the Westminster Abbey website).


History

The post of Speaker’s Chaplain has long been regarded as part of the Speaker’s staff, though is also referred to as Chaplain to the House. In 1660 the first person to be recorded as appointed Speaker’s Chaplain was Edward Voyce, although the presence of a clergyman to conduct prayers in the House is recorded in the Cromwellian Parliament of 1659.

The Chaplain is appointed by the Speaker and as well as providing a personal chaplaincy to him/her, the Chaplain also provides pastoral and spiritual support for Members and staff of both Houses. The post was without salary until 1835, when the occupant receive £200 per year.

From 1972-2010, the Speaker’s Chaplain also acted as the Rector of St Margaret’s Church, which is situated in Parliament Square next to Westminster Abbey.

The current incumbent combines the role with being Priest in Charge of St Mary at Hill in the City of London, and one of Westminster Abbey’s 25 Priest Vicars, which involves assisting at services in the Abbey, St Margaret’s Church and the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft.


About Rose Hudson-Wilkin

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin served as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, from 2010 until her appointment as Bishop of Dover in 2019.

The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin was born and grew up in Montego Bay. She was ordained deacon in 1991 and ordained to the priesthood in 1994. In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the first woman to be appointed to the position of Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. In November 2014, she became the Priest in Charge of the city Church, St Mary-at-Hill near Monument. Since leaving her role as Chaplain in November 2019 she has served as Bishop of Dover in the Canterbury Diocese.

Rose previously served as a Member of the General Synod of the Church of England and also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod. She twice represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches (in Zimbabwe & Brazil) and was one of its representatives on the Anglican Consultative Council. As a Selection Secretary for the Church of England, she helped to select men and women seeking to test their vocation to the ministry.