The English Parish Church through the Centuries

A new digital resource created by the University of York has been released which will provide teaching and learning resources about the history of parish churches since Anglo-Saxon times.

An interactive DVD “The English Parish Church through the Centuries: daily life and spirituality, art and architecture, literature and music”, produced by Christianity and Culture at the University of York, traces the development of the country’s most iconic ecclesiastical buildings across the centuries.


The DVD was launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the General Synod of the Church of England in York earlier this month. It combines easily accessible introductions to the latest academic research on parish churches and the influence of Christianity on literature, music, art and society from nearly 230 leading scholars, with images from national and international collections. The launch of the DVD comes as English Heritage reveals research into the number of listed places of worship at risk and rolls out a major campaign to help congregations care for their historic buildings. It offers answers to the questions: ‘Why should we care about churches?’ and ‘How can we care?’

The English Parish Church through the Centuries includes vivid 3D interactive models of the development of church interiors and exteriors, hundreds of extraordinarily beautiful images of churches past and present, specially recorded music from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards, maps, conservation information, and individual case studies of over 30 churches.


Dr Dee Dyas, Director of Christianity and Culture, said: “The story of the Church in England is interwoven with the history of England at every turn and its influence has shaped our social, cultural, imaginative, and physical landscapes. Parish Churches are not only treasure houses of astonishingly beautiful art and architecture; they are also story books with the experiences and memories of individuals and communities inscribed on their walls.

“They still stand at the physical and spiritual heart of many communities and and welcome a host of visitors each year, offering people from all backgrounds a doorway into countless areas of heritage and culture.”

This interactive resource offers teachers and students of all ages, as well as all those who use, care for and visit churches, an easy to use but authoritative resource which explores the interaction of history, art, architecture, literature, music and spirituality through the centuries.

Easy navigation and a full supporting glossary enable the casual user to explore at their own pace and learn from leaders in the field, while the high quality scholarship make it equally suitable for the specialist seeking to expand their knowledge in key areas. The DVD has been produced with the co-operation and support of the Church of England, English Heritage, the British Museum, Lambeth Palace Library, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Churches Conservation Trust, as well as many other institutions, charitable trusts and the goodwill of over 250 scholars worldwide.


Christianity and Culture is a grant-funded project based at the Humanities Research Centre in the University of York and St John’s Theological College, Nottingham. Started in 1999 in response to a need for resources for students which could explain the Christian heritage that underpins Western culture, the project has produced two earlier CD-Roms, Images of Salvation: The Story of the Bible through Medieval Art in 2004 and Pilgrims and Pilgrimage: Journey, Spirituality and Daily Life through the Centuries in 2007, as well as a student guide to the Bible in Western Culture and an ongoing academic book series with Boydell and Brewer.

Click here to go to the Christianity and Culture website

Source: University of York