The Church of England and the Durham Coalfield, 1810-1926

The Church of England and the Durham Coalfield, 1810-1926

Clergymen, Capitalists and Colliers

Robert Lee


Boydell Press



A detailed survey of the Anglican mission to the coalfields in an era where rapid industrialisation crucially affected the old ecclesiastical structures.
In 1860 the Diocese of Durham launched a new mission to bring Christianity - and specifically Anglicanism - to the teeming population of the Durham coalfield. Over the preceding fifty years the Church of England had become increasingly marginalised as the coalfield population soared. Parish churches that had been built to serve a scattered, rural medieval population were no longer sufficiently close - or relevant - to the new industrial townships that were being constructed around the coalmines. The post-1860 mission was a belated attempt to reach out to the new coalfield population, and to rescue them from the forces of Methodism, labour militancy and irreligion. It was posited on the need to build new churches, to delineate new parishes and to recruit a new type of clergyman: working-class and down-to-earth in origin and outlook, and somebody who could make an empathetic connection with his new parishioners.

This book is a detailed exploration of the way in which the Church of England in Durham handled its mission. It follows the Church's relationship with the coalfield, which ranged from an early-nineteenth-century aloofness to an early-twentieth-century identification which many church leaders considered had gone too far, and in so doing reveals how the Durham experience relates to national attempts to maintain Anglicanism's relevance and presence in an increasingly secular and sceptical society.

Dr ROBERT LEE lectures in History at the University of Teesside, Middlesbrough.


October 2007
354 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Regions and Regionalism in History
ISBN: 9781843833475
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

General Introduction
`Barchester', `Birtley' and the Mysteries of Patronage
Missionaries: Social, Educational and Geographical Backgrounds
Dealing with the `Interested'
Dealing with the `Oppressed'
Militants, Migrants and Religious Identitly
Bridging the Gap? Perceptions and Connections in a Missionary Society
General Conclusion


Shows just how complex the relationship between church and people was in one diocese of the Church of England. HISTORY
A work of permanent value. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES
(This) excellent new book provides a broad overview of Church policy and politics in the Durham coalfield and a detailed analysis of its practical effects during the long nineteenth century. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
Will be extremely useful book for anyone researching nineteenth-century Durham. An impressive amount of source material has been used and is listed in the extensive bibliography. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN

A valuable book. NORTHERN HISTORY

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