The Diocese of Salisbury is a Church of England diocese in the south of England, within the ecclesiastical Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers most of Dorset (excepting the deaneries of Bournemouth and Christchurch, which fall within the Diocese of Winchester), and most of Wiltshire (excepting a part in the north and Swindon). The diocese is led by the Bishop of Salisbury (Nick Holtam) and the diocesan synod. The bishop's seat is at Salisbury Cathedral.
The Diocese of Sherborne (founded c. AD 705) was the origin of the present diocese; St Aldhelm was its first Bishop of Sherborne. The Diocese of Ramsbury was created from the northwestern territory of the Bishop of Winchester in 909.
Herman of Wilton, bishop of both Ramsbury and then Sherborne, obtained approval from Edward the Confessor to transfer his seat to Malmesbury, but this plan was blocked by the monks of Malmesbury Abbey and Earl Godwin. Instead, following the Norman conquest, the 1075 Council of London named him Bishop of Sarisberie (Latin: Seriberiensis episcopus), which had been made a royal stronghold by William I. This was at Old Sarum. Disputes between the bishops Herbert and Richard Poore and the sheriffs of Wiltshire led to the removal of the see in the 1220s to a new site on Salisbury Plain. This was chartered as the city of New Sarum by King Henry III in 1227, but it was not until the 14th century that the office was described (by Robert Wyvil) as the Bishop of Sarum (episcopus Sarum). The diocese, like the city it administers, is now known as Salisbury. The archdeaconry around Salisbury, however, retains the name of Sarum.
In 1925 and 1974, new suffragan bishops were appointed to assist the Bishop of Salisbury; the new offices were titled the bishops of Sherborne and Ramsbury, respectively. Until 2009 the bishops operated under an episcopal area scheme established in 1981, with each suffragan bishop having a formal geographical area of responsibility, and being known as "area bishops". The Bishop of Ramsbury had oversight of the diocese's parishes in Wiltshire, while the Bishop of Sherborne had oversight of the diocese's parishes in Dorset. This scheme was replaced to reflect the increased working across the whole diocese by all three bishops. The two suffragans may now legally function anywhere in the diocese, and the Bishop of Salisbury may delegate any of his functions to them.