Rev Libby Lane will become the Church of England's first female bishop, in a historic appointment announced today. 

The announcement comes after the General Synod formally adopted legislation in favour of women bishops in November, "shattering the stained-glass window".

The move marks the end of centuries of all-male leadership in the Church and follows years of campaigning amid intense disputes over the divisive issue of allowing female bishops.

The Church of England's national assembly, the General Synod, voted for the measure in July.

Ms Lane, 48, has been appointed the new Bishop of Stockport, an assistant or suffragan bishop, in the diocese of Chester.

She will be consecrated as the 8th bishop of the town at a ceremony at York Minster on 26 January.

The Church of England also announced her appointment on its Twitter account.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was "absolutely delighted" by her appointment as Bishop of Stockport, praising it as a "wonderful choice".

Ms Lane was ordained a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the north of England in the dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester.

She has served as vicar of St Peter's, Hale, Greater Manchester, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley, Cheshire for the past eight years.

Her husband George is also a priest and they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together, according her church's website.

Ms Lane described her position as "an extraordinarily privileged place to be".

She said: "This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment.

"We have been welcomed into the College (of Bishops) and voices from the margins have begun to be heard.

"I'm delighted to be part of that line of continuing change as the Church works to serve its community."

Ms Lane was something of a surprise choice for the bookies, who had The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, 58, dean of Norwich, as the favourite to become the first woman bishop.

Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Ms Lane in a statement: "This is an historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions.

"And the government is playing its part too by bringing forward legislation this week that will allow women bishops to sit in the House of Lords."

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also extended his "warmest congratulations" to Ms Lane in a tweet on "a very important day of equality". 

The Episcopal Church in the US was the first member to have a woman serve as bishop and is now led by a woman.

Additional reporting by PA