The Very Reverend William Richard Wood Stephens DD, FSA was Dean of Winchester in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[3]
He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and graduated in 1862. Ordained in 1865, he began his career with a curacy in Staines. In 1866 he became the curate of Purley, Berkshire. On 31 August 1869 he married Charlotte Jane Hook, the youngest daughter of Walter Farquhar Hook, the dean of Chichester.[3] On the recommendation of the dean of Chichester in 1870, he became Vicar of Mid Lavant, a Lecturer at Chichester Theological College and Rector of Woolbeding[4] Then in 1895 he was elevated to the Deanery at Winchester, a post he held until his death.[3]

Stephens was known for his philanthropy, spending his own money to have the church at Mid Lavant restored. He provided funds for the rebuilding of the chancel at Woolbeding and contributed to the repairs of the roof at Winchester Cathedral. He also spent a lot of time showing visitors around the cathedral and explaining its history. In 1895 he was recognised for his interest in history when he was elected FSA.[3]

In 1902 Stephens attended a mayoral banquet, in Winchester, where he consumed some oysters. Unfortunately the beds, in Emsworth where the oysters were sourced, had been contaminated with raw sewage. Consequently, many of the guests, including Stephens, contracted food poisoning.[3][5][6] His death in Winchester deanery, on 22 December 1902, about six weeks after the banquet, was attributed to eating Emsworth oysters. He was buried in the graveyard of Winchester Cathedral on 27 December 1902.[3]


  • Life and Times of St John Chrysostom, 1872
  • Memorials of the South Saxon See, 1876
  • Christianity and Islam, 1877
  • Life and Letters of W. F. Hook, DD, 1878, 4th edn 1881
  • Memoir of William Page Baron Hatherley, 1883
  • Hildebrand and His Times, 1888
  • Helps to the Study of the Prayer-Book, 1891
  • Life and Letters of E. A. Freeman, DCL, 1895
  • Memoir of Richard Durnford, DD, sometime Bishop of Chichester, 1899
  • Joint Editor with Rev. W. Hunt, A History of the English Church, (Journal), 1899-1910


  1. ^ "Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of St Swithun, Winchester". A History of the County of Hampshire. 2: 108–115. 1973. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  2. ^ The Times, Tuesday, 23 Dec 1902; pg. 4; Issue 36958; col D Obituary. The Dean Of Winchester
  3. ^ a b c d e f “Who was Who”1897–1990 London, A & C Black, 1991 ISBN 0-7136-3457-X
  4. ^ "The Clergy List" William Clowes and Son,1879
  5. ^ "Emsworth Oysters". Emsworth Business Association. 3 February 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Bulstrode, H. Timbrell (1903). "Dr. H. Timbrell Bulstrode's report to the Local Government Board upon alleged oyster-home enteric fever and other illness following the mayoral banquets at Winchester and Southampton, and upon enteric fever occurring simultaneously elsewhere and also ascribed to oysters". London: HMSO: 1. OCLC 969508257. 
Church of England titles
Preceded by
George William Kitchin
Dean of Winchester
Succeeded by
William Mordaunt Furneaux