IT means a lot of Sunday working but it's not a bad job - a salary of nearly £53,000-a-year, plus a chauffeur and a medieval palace to call home.

There's also a lot of public speaking and some flamboyant formal dressing.

But then the successful candidate will be the second highest official of the Church of England.

For the first time in more than 1,300 years a "sit vac" notice has appeared for one of the most respected posts in the land, the Archbishop of York.

Worshippers are being asked to nominate who they think should have the job of having pastoral oversight of half the bishops in the land.

The ad has been placed in the Church Times and Church of England Newspaper as part of the Church's efforts to be more open and democratic in the way it chooses senior clergymen.

"We're trying to get away from the feeling it is all done by an old boys' network," said a spokesman.

The new system was introduced earlier this year for bishops and above and the first to be selected was the Bishop of Hereford.

However, the next Archbishop will be the first Primate to have been selected in such a way.

The Crown Nominations Commission will whittle the suggestions down to two names, which will then be forwarded to the Prime Minister. He will choose one name to send to the Queen.

A successor is being sought to replace Dr David Hope, who has held the post since 1995, and is stepping down at the age of 64.

However, he will not be retiring and will instead be taking up the position of parish priest in Ilkley, near Bradford.

Names already being bandied around for the post include the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, has also been named as a possibility, although his relatively recent appointment to his current role could prove a problem.