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Was the Church of England an ailing or a healthy institution in the eighteenth century? Responding to the slings and arrows of its Victorian critics, ever since the publication in the 1930s of Norman Sykes' Church and State in England in the Eighteenth Century, modern scholarship has tended to stress the competence of the Church's leadership at a national and diocesan level and its importance and popularity for the nation at large. Moreover, in recent years, several studies have emerged which argue a strong case for the multi-faceted appeal of the Church of England at the local level. However, although this revisionist scholarship helps to underline the importance of religion for eighteenth-century English society, it fails to account for the haemorrhaging of support which the Church of England experienced in the first half of the nineteenth century. With reference to the situation in England's largest parish, this new study of the Church of England's fortunes in the eighteenth century demonstrates its long-term failure to retain the loyalty and affections of many men and women in the country's industrialising areas. In drawing attention to hitherto neglected issues such as the situation of the Church of England's non-graduate clergy and the failure of its ecclesiastical courts, it presents a post-revisionist case which challenges the existing academic consensus on the situation and success of this faltering institution.

Dr M.F. SNAPE teaches in the Department of Theology at the University of Birmingham


This is a fine study. It bears the hallmarks of thorough and painstaking scholarship. This outstanding book is almost a model of how a local study of the eighteenth-century Church can enhance our knowledge of the past and our understanding of history. ALBION
A significant and well-researched book makes a timely intervention in the debate about the success or failure of the Church of England in the eighteenth century. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
This book is a splendid tapestry of local facts and stories drawn from extensive scrutiny of a range of records.... A very readable work. REVIEWS IN RELIGION & THEOLOGY
Makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the eighteenth-century church in all its variety. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
A oughly researched analysis. H-ALBION
[This] study has a wider significance that [just] one parish and should rapidly establish itself as an indispensable contribution towards the evolving historiography of the eighteenth-century Church of England. NORTHERN HISTORY
Compact and thoroughly researched.. Provide[s] valuable insight into the inner workings of an eighteenth-century parish. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY


First Published: 09 Oct 2003
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843830146
Pages: 240
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press

Details updated on 22 Oct 2015