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.