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Dean of Rochester Cathedral the Very Rev Dr Mark Beach steps aside after ‘issues’ over marriage break-up

By Nicola Jordan

The Dean of Rochester, the Very Rev Dr Mark Beach, has withdrawn from his high profile role within the cathedral after separating from his wife.

A statement from the Church of England said Dr Beach’s estrangement from his wife Annabel had raised some issues for some within the cathedral community.

It is understood that other senior clerics have stepped into carry out his duties since August, including conducting services on Remembrance Sunday and over Christmas.

The Dean of Rochester Cathedral The Very Rev Dr Mark Beach has stepped aside. Picture: Steve Crispe
The Dean of Rochester Cathedral The Very Rev Dr Mark Beach has stepped aside. Picture: Steve Crispe

Dr Beach, 52, was appointed to the post nearly three years ago under what is believed to be a seven-year contract.

When he answered the door to Messenger reporters at The Deanery, in Minor Canon Row, Dr Beach said: “I don’t have time to talk right now as I am just going out.”.

"His decision to separate from his wife has raised issues for some within the cathedral community and these matters are under active discussion. In the meantime, the Dean has withdrawn from public ministry” - The Rt Rev James Langstaff

A statement issued this week on behalf of the Bishop, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, said the Dean remained in post.

It continued: “However, his decision to separate from his wife has raised issues for some within the cathedral community and these matters are under active discussion. In the meantime, the Dean has withdrawn from public ministry.”

Dr Beach, a former University of Kent theology student, said at the time of his appointment: “I am delighted to be coming back to Kent.

“ I often passed over the railway bridge and looked admiringly at the cathedral and castle, but never dreamt I would one day live next door.”

He took over from the previous Dean, the Very Rev Adrian Newman, in May 2012. One of his first tasks was heading up a £5 million lottery bid, including a project to create an exhibition space in the crypt.

The announcement of his withdrawal from his public role comes at a crucial time for the cathedral as it manages the massive crypt project Hidden Treasures: Fresh Expressions and prepares for a major exhibition involving the the ancient manuscript, Textus Roffensis, and the Magna Carta which is marking its 800th anniversary in 2015.

The Bishop of Rochester the Rt Rev James Langstaff
The Bishop of Rochester the Rt Rev James Langstaff

An insider said: “He has not been seen in the cathedral. It’s been a long time and we would really like to know what’s going on.”

His PA, Marilyn Tyler, said: “He’s fine but not around at the moment.”

One of his last public appearances was at the official opening of King’s Rochester Sports Centre at the end of June when the sports minister Helen Grant unveiled a plaque.

According to his Twitter account, Dr Beach accompanied the cathedral choir to Dalfsenin Holland last month returning on December 16.

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