The English Parish Church from its Origins to 1300


The English medieval parish church reflects medieval society more powerfully and more completely than any other type of structure. It also survives in quantity and developed a formal repertoire that constitutes an architectural genre in its own right. Until recently, the small scale of most surviving examples, their poor documentation and local detailing, have deterred art and architectural historians from considering the parish church as an object and category of study, though that has started to change. The change is timely, as the future of the parish church as both a historic resource and as a social and religious amenity faces serious economic and conservation challenges.

This lecture series is will examine the parish church from its emergence until roughly 1300. Themes considered include the unusual diversity evident in patterns of patronage, the tendency of urban and rural parish churches to develop in different directions, the relationship between parish church and great church design, and the increasing concern on the part of the laity to make provision for the salvation of their souls through individual donations.

Programme details

Tuesdays, 11am–12.30pm GMT (UTC)

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place at 10.30am before the first lecture (1 November 2022). Tea and coffee is provided in the Common Room before each lecture, from 10.30am.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time. 

Tuesday 1 November
Origins and Uses
Minsters and field churches – early medieval approaches to pastoral care

Tuesday 8 November
The 12th-Century Building Boom
The masonry parish church as a social imperative

Tuesday 15 November
The Parish Church at Kilpeck (Herefordshire)
Patronage at a local level

Tuesday 22 November
Fenland Parish Churches
Aisles and the birth of the late medieval parish church

Tuesday 29 November
Windows and Lighting
The new 13th-century aesthetic

Tuesday 6 December
Image and Devotion
The parish church as a mirror of the divine world


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £130.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £115.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr John McNeill


John lectures in the history of medieval art and architecture and is a part-time tutor for OUDCE. He is Honorary Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, for whom he has recently edited volumes of essays on Romanesque Patrons and Processes, and English medieval chantries.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.