The Church of England in the Twentieth Century

The Church of England in the Twentieth Century

The Church Commissioners and the Politics of Reform, 1948-1998

Andrew Chandler


Boydell Press



Unique account of the affairs of the Church of England during a period of colossal change and controversy.
This is the first comprehensive historical picture to be published of the life and work of the Church of England in the second half of the twentieth century. It traces the evolution of the Church in a period of immense upheaval, giving not only a detailed portrait of the work of its archbishops and bishops, but also exploring the Church's relationship with the State, the changes within its central institutions, and the response of the wider community to those changes. Placing the Church of England in its social context, Andrew Chandler examines the parochial reforms which arose in response to the realities of domestic and international migration, multi-culturalism and secularization. Other themes explored are the administration of property (particularly bishops' houses and the work of the cathedrals), 'ethical investment', and the recent crises which are still the subject of argument. Included among these are the financial speculations of the late 1980s and early 1990s, from which flowed controversies about the reform of the Church of England itself and the nature of its relationship with the state.

ANDREW CHANDLER is Director of the George Bell Institute, Birmingham, and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham.


558 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Paperback, 9781843835011, September 2009
Hardback, 9781843831655, November 2006
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

The Foundations of an Institution
The Age of Speculation
The Cure of Souls and the Politics of Expenditure
The Ancient Church and Modern Society
The Costs of the Episcopacy and the Cathedrals
The Embarrassment of Riches
The Politics of Maintenance
Reforming the Parish
The Struggle for the Stipend and the New Austerity
The Perils of the Markets
Making and Amending: The Church under the Pastoral Measure
Four Campaigns
The Inflationary Spiral
Managing Crisis
An Orderly Retreat
The Commissioners and the Commission
Appendix 1: Church Estates Commissioners and Secretaries to the Church Commissioners
Appendix 2: The Basic Structures of the Church Commissioners
Appendix 3: The Church Commissioners Measure, 1947
Appendix 4: National Institutions Measure, 1998


A fascinating study rooted in extensive archival research. CHURCH HISTORY
Quite the most important book to have appeared on the recent history of the Church of England in many years. [...] A definitive piece of work which will not need to be done again, and will be a goldmine to any student pursuing the comparative history of establishments. CONTEMPORARY CHURCH HISTORY
A very complete and comprehensive history. [...] A must-have for history and religion collections. LIBRARY BOOKWATCH
The story is complex, at times dramatic, and full of intriguing surprises. Chandler's style is incisive. His judgments are eminently fair. And he manages to keep his balance and not be overwhelmed by the amount of detail. This is not a book for beginners. A knowledge of the Church of England's structures is required. Chandler's masterly account of the fifty years of the Church Commissioners pays tribute to their successes as well as acknowledging their shortcomings. His assessments are eminently fair, all the more because he recognizes that the historian's duty is not to become overwhelmed by the weight of archival records. This study will certainly stand the test of time. It will not need to be done again. The clarity of Chandler's descriptions, and the generosity of his sentiments are significant contributions to the book's merits. Above all, he makes the intricacies of the Church of England's internal affairs available to the wider audience. This is no small feat, and it is one for which we can be most grateful. ASSOCIATION OF CHURCH HISTORIANS
A beautifully written, elegantly constructed narrative sensitively describing the dedicated attempts of generations of bureaucrats to tackle a bewilderingly complex task in a liberal and humane manner. ARCHIVES

The best kind of narrative history. BAPTIST QUARTERLY

This well-written book offers a fresh approach to the often troubled history of the Church of England in the later half of the twentieth century. [...] In its lucid organization and patient engagement with detail, the book deserves comparison with the best institutional histories of the last fifty years. [...]This work adds enormously to understanding an important British institution undergoing an historic transition. H-NET BOOK REVIEW
This beautifully crafted academic tome. SUNDAY TIMES

Author Bio

Andrew Chandler is Director of the George Bell Institute and Reader in Modern History at the University of Chichester.

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