Piggott, Robert (2019) A Place for Worship? Heritage and Religiosity in England. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis concerns the relationship between the heritage protection regime and listed places of worship. It looks specifically at the ways in which the Church of England manages its historic churches, as well as the arrangements which have been found for the management of places of worship the Church no longer has a use for. In so doing, it presents a national overview of the history of the organisations which have a role in the maintenance of these buildings. It also presents three area-based case studies which explore the local factors that have contributed to the present management of historic places of worship in these places. The thesis as a whole concentrates on the role of voluntary action in the management of heritage assets and the final chapter explores the experiences of those managing grant-aided repairs to historic churches in rural areas, as well as negotiating with heritage agencies to introduce new facilities into them. The central argument presented here is that voluntary action has been key to the development of the ways in which historic places of worship are managed. This has wider import for the history of the Anglicanism, and it is argued here that over the past two hundred years, the Church of England has been forced to accommodate itself to a more voluntaristic model of church membership. The legacy of paternalism evident in nineteenth century Anglicanism is seen to present problems for the popularisation of the history of the Church in the present. However, the role of voluntary action in the production of historical knowledge about these building is also seen to be key to the present arrangements for their management. In tandem, the development of civic pride and rural preservation are shown to have had a significant influence on the ways in which heritage protection is achieved today. In addition, the public policy aim of promoting community cohesion through heritage forms a part of this study. Within this history the decline of public worship continues to gain increased significance. This decline necessitated the closure of a large number of places of worship from the mid-twentieth century onwards. It is argued here that the secularisation of these buildings, and their subsequent patrimonialisation are interlinked phenomena. As the generational decline in attendance at Church of England services continues, heritage agencies will be increasingly required to find new arrangements for the management of historic places of worship.

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