The King is currently patron of 42 Church livings in Right of His Duchy of Lancaster, with the right to appoint clerics to these positions, in place of the Diocesan Bishop.
The right of individuals to put forward their own preferred choices to an ecclesiastical benefice (a post in the Church) dates back to the Middle Ages, and is known as an advowson. As this prerogative represented power and influence, advowsons were often bought, sold and exchanged like other assets during the Middle Ages, and often formed part of property transactions. They could also be transferred independently.
Such advowsons formed part of the manors or land bought and sold by the Duchy of Lancaster over the centuries. Many manors were sold by monarchs, such as Charles I during the Civil War, to raise money but sometimes advowsons were retained.
The advowsons which remain with His Majesty as Duke of Lancaster today are located in the Northern, middle and Eastern parts of the country. Most of the advowsons are no longer attached to land within the Duchy of Lancaster estates. Only the living at Tutbury in Staffordshire adjoins a Duchy estate owned today. Curiously, there are no Duchy church livings in the County Palatine.
For information on England’s churches provided by the Churches Conservation www.visitchurches.org.uk
For the Church of England links to Parish websites www.cofe.anglican.org