The English Parish Church through the Centuries is an extraordinarily rich DVD-ROM resource that has been produced by The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York. This effectively is an encyclopaedia of information on how we end up with the church buildings we do, covering everything from the early church up to the present day. The resource contains everything from easily accessible introductions to the latest academic research on parish churches and the influence of Christianity on literature, music, art and society.
- 600 articles by over 225 experts in their respective fields
- Video sections
- Audio – eg church music of different ages
- Interactive 3D models of how churches have developed from Saxon times to the present day
- Galleries of images from national and international collections.
- Glossary of terms, good for the complete beginner upwards
- Christianity and writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dickens, Brontes, Wordsworth, TS Eliot, Tolkien, DH Lawrence.
- Case studies detailing individual churches from around the country.
- Practical sections on care, conservation, creative use, re-ordering and interpretation of church buildings and their contents.
The resource structures each time period along the following themes
- Daily Life and Worship
- Church Art and Architecture
- Interaction with Society
- Interaction with Culture
So Why Should I Be Interested?
In short, because we live in an age of forgetting. Ironic isn’t it, when we are awash with more and more knowledge, that we seem to know less and less about where we have come from? This was the impetus behind the setting up of Christianity and Culture, that first year undergraduates were coming up to university with little or no frame of reference for the Christian cultural foundation of much of what they were studying.
But the forgetting goes the other way too – in the church we forget how much Christian content there still is within the culture at large, and are also woefully ignorant of where we have come from. I for one have learned a good deal from the small part of the resource that I have accessed to date.
And who would benefit from this resource? Well, almost anyone. Any church needing to prepare a Statement of Significance (and that’s most of us) would be well advised to have a copy. All Rural and Area Deans should have at least one copy. It would work well in schools, for architects and other building professionals – anyone really. Even my 7 year-old enjoyed it, particularly the external and internal 3D virtual model of the church.
So How Do I Get A Copy?
The resource costs £17.50 plus postage, which in itself is an absolute bargain and available by following the link from the C&C website. Alternatively if you contact firstname.lastname@example.org and quote “churchbuild” you can get a copy for £15 plus £1 postage (within the UK). Even better!
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana, from “Life of Reason”)