The Church of England and the Working Classes in Birmingham, 1861-1905

  • R. Peacock

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


    This study is concerned with the Church’s approach to the spiritual destitution of the working classes in Birmingham. It is divided into five main sections. The first consists of an examination of the church extension movement in the city and discusses the consequences of the enlarged provision of church accommodation and clergy that was achieved during this period. Attention is drawn to the contrast between the relative failure of church extension in the years up to 1890 and the much greater degree of success that is apparent later.
    The second section is an attempt to estimate the effectiveness of the Church in working class parishes. By using the 1851 Religious census together with the 1892 Birmingham News census an estimate is reached of working class church attendance. At the same time the work of the clergy is examined in order to assess how far they were committed to the idea of working class mission.
    The factors that hindered the work of the Church are examined in the next two sections. The internal dissension arising out of Evangelical domination of the city is discussed together with the reluctance of the Church’s leaders to reorganise the structure of the Church to cope with the requirements of its mission.
    In the final section the attitude of Churchmen to the social problems of the working classes is examined. The commitment of clergy to the implications of their social gospel is assessed and the study concludes with a discussion of the failure of middle class Churchmen to accept the consequences of the Church’s mission to the working classes.
    Date of Award1973
    Original languageEnglish


    • church of England
    • working class
    • Birmingham

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