This coming Sunday, on the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, will hand off the mitre and crozier to a 12 year old member of the choir, following a tradition that dates back to the middle ages. For the first time in cathedral’s long history, that Chorister Bishop will be a girl.
Maddie Lyles is the first girl to be made Chorister Bishop – or Boy Bishop as it was known until last year – in the Cathedral’s lifetime. As the most senior Girl Chorister or Dean’s Chorister she leads the 40 strong team of singers ranging in age from eight years old to thirteen, along with Jake Lacey, the most Senior Boy Chorister or Bishop’s Chorister. Between them they must demonstrate superlative singing skills and demonstrate mature leadership. The choristers are the public face of the Cathedral, a responsibility Maddie doesn’t take lightly.
Commenting on her new role Maddie Lyles said: “Mum told me at the choir meeting at the beginning of the Christmas term 2014, that in 2015 the Head Girl Chorister would be the next Child Bishop. I didn’t know that I would be the Head Chorister for the girls choir then. When I was made Head Chorister, I was thrilled. It meant that not only would I be leading the choir but also I would become the first Girl Bishop and make history. I’m excited although a little nervous.”
Amanda Lyles, Maddie’s mother said: “We were so delighted that Maddie was to be made Head Girl Chorister for 2015/16. We also knew that it meant that Maddie would be taking on the role of Bishop for a Day in December. This is the first time it has ever been a girl at Salisbury Cathedral, and we feel very honoured that she is to take on that role and has this opportunity. She has just had her robe fitting for the occasion. Unfortunately as she is still quite little, there is a bit of hemming to be done. I must say I can’t wait to see her in all her Bishop’s Robes.”