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The Ecclesiological Society

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A joint conference of The Ecclesiological Society and The Chapels Society

Saturday 28th September 2024


Competing Churches and Chapels, 1829–1939


St Alban’s Centre, Leigh Place, Baldwin’s Gardens, London EC1N 7AB

The 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act marked a major stage in the liberalisation of religious policy in the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland. For the first time, Christian dissenters, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, were able openly to worship according to their beliefs and consciences, without incurring social or political disabilities. The following century witnessed the proliferation of places of worship as different denominations came out of the shadows, sought to accommodate existing congregations and attempted to cater for a rapidly increasing population. Denominations, and even some branches of single Churches, were in competition for members and used their buildings both to make their presence felt and to differentiate themselves from their rivals. This conference will explore some of the manifestations of this phenomenon in England, Wales and Ireland, and, in so doing, will open a window into a religious culture radically different from that of present-day inter-denominational co-operation and sharing of premises.

09.30            Coffee

10.00            Welcome

10.10            Building for the Emerging Market in Religion Paul Barnwell (University of Oxford)

11.00            Free Trade, Competition, or Professional Amour Propre? A Chapel Perspective Clyde Binfield (University of                                 Sheffield)

11.50            Coffee

12.10            Keeping up with the Joneses: Inter- and Extra-Denominational Rivalry in Chapel Building in Wales Susan                               Fielding (RCAHMW)

13.00            Lunch

14.00            Citius, Altius, Fortius: Post-Emancipation Catholic Church-building in the North of England Stephen                                           Withnell (University of Oxford)

14.50            Cultivating the Beautiful Quite as Much as the Churchmen Themselves – Design and Identity in                                                  Nineteenth-Century Irish Ecclesiastical Architecture Niamh NicGhabhann (University of Limerick)

15.40            Tea

16.00            Mission to the ‘Godless suburbs’: The Church of England and Inter-Denominational Rivalry in Interwar                                   Church Building Clare Price (Church of England)

16.50            Close


£55 for members of the Chapels Society and of the Ecclesiological Society and their guests; £65 for non-members. Prices include refreshments and lunch.

Please book here

Tickets are non-refundable.

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