The Revd Canon Dr Peter Groves


Fr Peter Groves has been parish priest of St Mary Magdalen’s since 2005. A Londoner by birth and upbringing, he came to Oxford as an undergraduate student, where he completed a BA and then a DPhil in Theology at New College. After training for the ministry at Westcott House in Cambridge, he served his curacy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, before returning to Oxford in 1999. Before being appointed to the parish as Priest-in-charge, he was Chaplain and Fellow of Brasenose College, and he continues to be a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. He is married to Beatrice, who teaches English Literature at Trinity College, and they have two sons, Michael and Edward. Peter remains a passionate advocate for the study of Theology, especially in relation to the arts, and has particular interests in Shakespeare, Wagner and Gerard Manley Hopkins. He indulges a vice called quizzing from time to time, but his greatest obsession remains Queens Park Rangers FC, where he is a season ticket holder.

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Assistant Curate

The Revd Esther Lay


Mthr Esther was brought up in Beijing, Singapore, and Sydney, though she will claim to be from southern Illinois if pressed. She read Philosophy and Theology at The Queen’s College, Oxford before training as a classical singer at the Royal Academy of Music. After a ten-year career as a concert soloist specialising in baroque repertoire (under the name Esther Brazil), she worked for two years as Ministerial Assistant at the University Church in Oxford, and trained for ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon. She is the first female curate of St Mary Magdalen’s, though only the second to speak Mandarin. She is married to Ben, a serving naval officer, and has two small children. She can be found reading and writing poetry in any available spare time.


Assistant Curate

The Revd Lucie Spiers


Mthr Lucie completed her initial formation for the priesthood at Ripon College Cuddesdon. Prior to her training, Lucie worked in the University of Cambridge, managing its intellectual property patents and licenses portfolio. In addition to various parish roles at St. Bene’t’s in Cambridge, she led teams at the Cambridge Churches Homeless Project and volunteered in hospital and hospice chaplaincy. In her spare time, Lucie loves wild water swimming, walking her whippet Flora, and endeavouring to knit and unravel the poetry of John Donne and Geoffrey Hill. She is married to Paul, who teaches Chemistry, and has three children.


Associate Priest

The Revd Dr Melanie Marshall


Mthr Mel is currently Acting Chaplain at Balliol College. She spent her twenties studying and teaching classics in Oxford before before being sent from Mary Mags to Westcott House and Emmanuel College Cambridge. After serving as a curate at St Michael and All Angels Bedford Park in the Diocese of London, Mthr Mel returned to Oxford to spend five extremely happy years as Chaplain of Lincoln College. She loves opera and knitting and writing sermons and helping her friends with their renaissance Latin, but above all things she likes just hanging out with people. It was Fr Peter who introduced her to her husband Mark, a fellow classicist and theologian. They live in Headington with their small son Clement and Bruno the ginger cat.


Associate Priest

The Revd Professor Judith M. Brown


Judith is an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College (and helps in the college chapel). She was from 1990 to 2011 Beit Professor of Commonwealth History at Oxford, having taught previously in Manchester University and Cambridge. She did her own undergraduate and post-graduate work in Cambridge and became a Fellow of Girton, her own college. Her academic speciality is modern India. She was born in India and has spent considerable time there for research. She has travelled widely for leisure and also for academic work, including giving summer courses in the University of Natal, South Africa, and serving on the Scholars' Council for the Library of Congress, Washington DC. She knew she was called to the priesthood as a young woman, well before the Anglican church ordained women. Eventually she was able to respond to that calling and after training at Cuddesdon was ordained in 2009. Before coming to Mary Mags in 2014 she ministered in the Botley benefice, with a particular care for St. Frideswide's church. She acted as interim chaplain at Brasenose college in 2017, and is a spiritual director. She was married to her late husband, Peter, for 31 years: their son, James, works in political consultancy in London and is married to Julia Sitkovetsky, an opera singer. Judith is a passionate gardener, and also enjoys walking and classical music.


Churchwarden and Safeguarding Officer

Nigel Timms


Nigel Timms was born in Rugby, UK in 1953, and grew up on the Wirral. He read music at Durham University, and after a two-year work experience as a bus driver in the North East bowed to the inevitable and became a teacher. Moving to Oxfordshire, he worked first at Gosford Hill School in Kidlington, teaching Music and Drama, and then at Beachborough Preparatory School near Brackley, adding English, Latin, and Religious Studies to his repertoire. During this time he wrote and produced fifteen plays for schoolchildren, many of them based on classic stories such as Treasure Island. He also made cut-down versions of eight Shakespeare plays for school performance. Nigel has (almost!) retired from teaching, and is concentrating on writing. He is married to the composer Helen Roe: they have three grown up sons, and a black cat who is called Rug because he looks like a rug and is always under your feet.


Safeguarding Officer

Susan Weavers


Susan was born in Oxford and trained to be a librarian at Loughborough University, then worked in in south London in public libraries for a few years. On her return to Oxford, Susan worked for Blackwells as a Customer Services Manager and was fortunate to travel to America, Asia and Europe in this role. Susan then chose to transfer to working in mental health and trained to be an Independent Mental Health Advocate; she now has extensive experience of working in statutory and voluntary mental health services.
Susan is married to Ken; they were married at St Mary Magdalen in Father Hugh’s time, and have an affectionate cat called Phoebe!



Deborah Vorhies


Deborah was born in Cape Town and has spent most of her life working in international policy in Geneva and saving the environment in various unlikely locations. Now settled in Oxford, she works with FairWild Foundation and AWEI -the African Wildlife Economy Institute. In her leisure hours she can be found attending concerts, dabbling in her tiny garden and indulging in the sport of philosophy, specifically ethics.


Director of Music

Will Dawes


Will Dawes is Director of Music at the church of St Mary Magdalen's; Director of Chapel Music of Somerville College, Oxford; and Director of Frideswide Voices (Oxford’s first liturgical choir for 7-14 year-old girls). He studied Choral Conducting and Singing at RAM, and has since directed numerous excellent choral societies and chamber choirs across the UK. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2018.

Will is active as a consort singer and is a member of the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Stile Antico. The group performs all over the globe, including concerts in the Wigmore Hall, at the BBC Proms, and in 2018 performed at the Grammy's in Madison Square Garden. He is a former Lay Clerk of Christ Church, Oxford, and has sung with Collegium Vocale Gent, The Cardinall's Musick, Magnificat, and Polyphony.

As a soloist, Will has sung works such as Carmina Burana (Orff), Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Mahler), and The Wound Dresser (Adams) as well as more canonic works by Bach and Handel. His one and only operatic role to date is that of Mr Gedge in Albert Herring.

For further information, including forthcoming performances, please visit http://www.willdawes.co.uk