Vicars may axe robes as 'dress down' proposals backed

Vicars will be able to swap their traditional robes and "dress down" for services under new proposals backed by the Church of England.

Lord Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury in traditional robes. Credit: PA

The Rev Christopher Hobbs, from the London Diocese, who proposed the changes, said rules for Holy Communion currently allow no flexibility over what can be worn even when services were held outside traditional church buildings.

He said: "It makes no difference if it is cafe style in a pub, outside in a field, in a hotel lounge or lobby. Surplice and Alb is required, with scarf or stole."

Robes or vestments are traditionally worn at Morning and Evening Prayer and Holy Communion and Hobbs said there are some contexts where they should still be worn.

However, other members of the General Synod held at York University were critical of the move to "dress down."

Philip McDonough, a lay reader from St Albans, said: "When I was a child my mother used to say to me 'If I have taken the time to prepare a meal, surely you can take the time to prepare to eat it by washing your hands and eating with a clean face.'"