A Thousand Years of the English Parish: Medieval Patterns & Modern Interpretations by Anthea Jones

A Thousand Years of the English Parish: Medieval Patterns & Modern Interpretations by Anthea Jones lands on the shelves of my shop, where it will be found in my Architecture section.

Moreton-in-Marsh: The Windrush Press, 2000, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.

Contains: Black & white photographs; Colour photographs; Maps; Frontispiece;

From the cover: There are 13,000 parishes in England, each with its parish church, covering the country in a network which gives identity to local communities. The traditional pattern was idiosyncratic and displayed striking differences between North and South. Two-thirds of English parishes are ancient, probably a thousand years old; one-third have been founded in the last 150 years to match a growing urban population.

This well-illustrated book is the result of five years of intensive study and travel throughout England by the author. It unravels the workings of the parish and its effect on society. For many centuries parishes were the means of governing the country, but in the nineteenth century a revolution began whose effects are not yet fully worked out. Centralisation has displaced localism.

There are many fascinating insights into how the ancient dioceses were set up, the reasons behind many place-names, the differences between Rectors, Vicars and Curates, the meaning of tithes, and how the clerical cake has been divided over the centuries not always fairly.

One major theme of the book is the changing social status of the clergy after the Reformation; the shrinking parsonages of the twentieth century symbolise their waning influence after the grand Georgian rectories. The author not only draws on the financial facts but also looks at the vivid portrayals of the clergy by some of Englands finest writers, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot.

Finally, the author looks at the future of the parish and its relationship to the complex bureaucracy of the Church of England, and wonders how this long-lasting survival from another age, that has contributed much to shape English villages and towns, can be reformed for the future.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. A little rubbing to the edges of the dust wrapper. Leans slightly. Text complete, clean and tight.

Blue boards with Silver titling to the Spine. 336 pages. Bibliography. 9½” x 6¾”.

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