By Anthony Jennings

It is a finished survey of the social, ancient and architectural value of the English parsonage and its destiny. conventional English rectories and vicarages, bought out of provider by way of the Church, became uniquely fascinating to estate purchasers and are actually adored through their new deepest proprietors. They mix many coveted characteristics: their superb structure, their air of civilization, their appeal and personality, the conventional values and caliber of crucial 'Englishness' which they evoke; their huge gardens and infrequently wonderfully rural destinations. regardless of their old, social and architectural significance, there is not any complete ebook approximately them at the moment in print. This ebook examines where of rectories and vicarages within the historical past of the Church and of this kingdom, and lines their evolution in the course of the centuries. It seems to be at their many and sundry forms of structure, profiling a few person homes and highlighting essentially the most architecturally striking and fascinating ones. it's handsomely illustrated with caliber colour and black-and-white photos. even though rectories and vicarages have had their ups and downs all through background, the interval from the early 20th century to the current day has posed might be the best problem: why, in the event that they are so fascinating, has the Church been promoting off its best homes? "The previous Rectory" examines the contribution to our tradition made via the clerical households who occupied those homes, and appears at many of the recognized humans (and eccentrics) who've been linked to them.

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There are records of ‘chattering, laughing, jangling and jesting aloud’, the priest ‘smiting his hand on the book’ to try to silence them. The friar who wrote ‘Dives and Pauper’ said ‘they have liever go to the tavern than to Holy Church. ’ Berthold of Regensburg said ‘it irks THE PARSONAGE IN THE PARISH – THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 27 some to stand decently for a short hour in church’, to be told ‘we understand not the Mass … we know not what is being sung or read, we cannot comprehend it’. No state or secular public authority existed to relieve distress.

Some wealthy rectors lived in their own private house, often in town for convenience rather than in the country, which they generally found disagreeable, ignoring their parsonage, where there might be a curate who had no means, or just a tenant, or the house might even be empty. The parsonage house at Melmerby was ‘wholly neglected’ by an incumbent, who ‘(being as well Lord as parson), always resided at the Hall’. The sons of the landed gentry also often became the parson, tending to leave the parish in the care of underpaid curates when they inherited the estate.

Most no longer look to the established Church, some no doubt because of the very fact of its establishment and alignment with monarchy and state. Lack of leisure time results in value placed on weekend privacy. Among remaining congregations, there is division between town and country, the latter more conservative. Then, the divisions within the Church of England itself: the progressives, the latitudinarians, the Anglo-Catholics, the evangelicals; schisms over women and homosexual priests; fundamentalists who believe nothing changes, and progressives, for whom the gospel must be reinterpreted for successive generations.

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