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Title: Keeping the faith : church and community in Alresford c. 1780-1939
Author: Beecher, Alistair
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 7430
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The Religious Census of 1851 revealed the registration district of Alresford in Hampshire to be a particular bastion of the Church of England. This study considers the basis of this Anglican strength and how the established Church managed to retain its dominance against the challenge from Nonconformity in the context of an apparent waning of religious commitment nationally. Starting from c.1780 to pick up the roots of any early signs of local dissent, the thesis considers the evolving relationship between church and community in this rural part of southern England which comprised a small but prosperous market town surrounded by a variety of agricultural parishes. The study is positioned in the national context of the major political, social and economic upheaval of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, concluding with the period between the two world wars. The research consists primarily, but not exclusively, of qualitative analysis, which draws on a rich variety of primary sources including clerical service registers, vestry minutes, churchwarden and overseer accounts, school, court and parish records, enclosure and tithe agreements, parish magazines, local and national newspapers and private correspondence. The general historiography to which the work contributes is around secularisation and denominational rivalry, and regular reference is made to this and more specific sub-themes throughout the thesis. I will argue that the enduring local dominance of the Church of England was due to its enormous financial strength, its central involvement in the provision of charity and welfare, a re-invigorated commitment to pastoral care and the absence of any senior local sponsorship for Nonconformity. Underpinning everything was the formation of a particularly tight nexus between church and parish elites which served to preserve effective Anglican hegemony well beyond the First World War. It was not until the 1920s and 1930s, when the church started to lose its social relevance in welfare and education nationally, that the cracks in the façade of local dominance became irrefutable.
Supervisor: Smith, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Denominations ; Anglicanism ; Secularisation ; Hampshire ; Church ; Anglican