Omnia bene or ruinosa?: The condition of the parish churches in and around London and Westminster c.1603-1677

Hitchman, V. A. (2008) Omnia bene or ruinosa?: The condition of the parish churches in and around London and Westminster c.1603-1677. Doctoral theses, University of Southampton; University of Chichester.

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The focus of this thesis is the repair and maintenance of parish churches between 1603 and 1677. As such it represents one of the first systematic studies of this topic to contribute to a variety of debates touching on Jacobean rebuilding programmes, the more famous Laudian initiatives of the 1630s, the notorious iconoclasm of the 1640s, and the impact of the Restoration; debates hitherto all too often approached in isolation from one another. It commences with a brief summary of the prevailing situation based on reports provided for Archbishop Whitgift's survey of 1602 and concludes on the death of Archbishop Sheldon. The geographical location is that covered by James I's 1615 proclamation that 'all persons without a lawful occupation were to leave London, Westminster and Southwark, and all places within 30 mile compass and return to their place where they were born ... ' The thesis refutes the general perception of the period as one of gross neglect of churches. It highlights the importance of local parish pride and initiative over mere compliance with ecclesiastical orders in maintaining, restoring and building churches. Unlike earlier studies of London and Westminster, this thesis has compared and contrasted these two cities with the surrounding rural areas. While the prosperous capital may have led the way in overall expenditure and initiatives, this study shows how the hinterland too experienced constant concern for churches throughout this period. A key finding of this thesis is that the parishioners continued to care for their churches during the civil wars and general unrest of the 1640s and 1650s, when no overall authority ordered or monitored the condition of churches. This care continued after the Restoration, although the re-establishment of the Church of England had little impact on churches outside London and Westminster. The importance of parochial pride is well captured through study of the huge sums spent by congregations on bells and church towers. The thesis is based heavily on systematic study of churchwardens' accounts, the problems of which are discussed fully at the outset. This is another valuable contribution of the thesis, for it addresses current concerns about the reliability and usefulness of these sources and is based on a comprehensive body of material for 242 parishes which are fully representative of communities in the region. Moreover, the scope of this study has enabled the creation of a building cost price index - a valuable companion to the famous Phelps Brown Hopkins Price Index of consumables which should allay the fears of many historians concerning the impact of inflation in studies of this kind.

Publication Type: Theses (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > History
Student Research > Doctoral
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Debbie Bogard
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 14:14
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2021 08:22

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