The care of country churches in Herefordshire, c1662-1762, with special reference to the Archdeaconry of Hereford and the capitular peculiars

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Historians discussing Anglican churches of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have often claimed that churches were neglected. That claim is still made, although it has been questioned for over fifty years. There is, therefore, a need to investigate the care of churches as a distinct issue within ecclesiastical administration.;This thesis focuses on a selection of 77 rural churches and three chapels in Herefordshire. It is based on detailed use of archives, supplemented by antiquarian notes, illustrations and the buildings themselves. Two assumptions are made. Firstly attention to detail is inescapable if the investigation is to reflect the continuing nature of care, year in and year out. Secondly, full attention needs to be given to the people involved as well as the buildings.;Nine chapters are concerned with the system of oversight and with the churches. Oversights were fairly close, sometimes rigorous. Maintenance and restoration were an ordinary part of parish life and a considerable amount of rebuilding has been overlooked. Liturgical requirements, social hierarchies and practical problems all influenced the ordering and furnishing of churches. The common ideal was 'decency'.;Six chapters examine the contribution made by clergy and laity within a complex pattern of commitments. Clergy played a substantial and generally effective part through oversight, ownership of tithes and help given to congregations. Neglect by the laity was unusual. Lay impropriators and tithe farmers were, with few exceptions, conscientious. Rural communities spent almost annually on maintenance. Such communities, like prominent individuals, improved, restored and rebuilt churches and they provided many of the craftsmen. Their churchwardens undertook and fulfilled substantial responsibilities.;In country places the parish church or an Anglican chapel was the most important public building. It was cared for the best of everyone's ability, often at heavy cost to people with very limited resources.

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Citation

Paul, Elizabeth Derryan, “The care of country churches in Herefordshire, c1662-1762, with special reference to the Archdeaconry of Hereford and the capitular peculiars,” Centre for Regional and Local History Theses and Papers, accessed February 2, 2023, https://elhleics.omeka.net/items/show/47.