During the medieval and early modern periods the Welsh diocese of St Davids was one of the largest in the country and the most remote. As this collection makes clear, this combination of factors resulted in a religious life which was less regulated and controlled by the institutional forces of both Church and State. Addressing key ideas in the development of popular religious culture and the stubborn continuity of long-lasting religious practices into the modern era, the volume shows how the diocese was also a locus for continuing major religious controversies, especially in the nineteenth century. Presenting a fresh view of the Diocese of St Davids since the Reformation, this is the first new account of religion and society in over a century. It is, moreover, not one which is written primarily from an institutional perspective but from that of wider society. As well as a chronological treatment, giving an overview of the history of religion in the diocese, chapters address key themes, including a study of religious revivals which originated within the borders of the diocese; consideration of popular and elite education, including the contribution of Bishop Burgess's pioneering institution at Lampeter (the first degree awarding institution in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge); the relationship of the Church to the revival of Welsh cultural identity; and new reflections on the agitation and realisation of disestablishment of the Church as it affected Wales. As such, this pioneering study has much to offer all those with an interest, not only in Welsh history, but ecclesiastical history more broadly.
Table of Contents
Contents: Foreword; Introduction: approaches to the history of religion in St Davids Diocese 1485-2011, William Gibson; The Diocese of St Davids in the Reformation era I: from rebellion to reaction, 1485-1553, John Morgan-Guy; The Diocese of St Davids in the Reformation era II: from reaction to Restoration: 1553-1660, John Morgan-Guy; Defending the faith: theology in the Diocese of St Davids, c. 1534-2000, Robert Pope; ’The most glorious enterprises have been achiev’d’: the Restoration Diocese of St Davids 1660-1730, William Gibson; Religious revivals in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, Eryn Mant White; Celebrating a saint on his home ground: St David’s Day in St Davids Diocese during the 19th century, Mike Benbough-Jackson; St Davids and disestablishment: reassessing the role of Bishop John Owen, Harri Williams; The modern Diocese of St Davids, William Price; Index.
’This is history at its best - it’s local yet set against the broad backdrop of national and international developments. It offers an impressive accumulation of detail without losing sight of the bigger picture. And its imposing range of contributors, under the watchful eye of its editors, avoid the usual jumpiness of such volumes and manage to produce a silky smooth text that is at once instructive and compelling.’ Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, Superintendent Minister of Wesley's Chapel, London, UK ’William Williams, the hymn writer, once compared the outbreak of the Methodist revival in the mid 1730s to the dawning of the sun after a long dark winter’s night. One hopes that Christians today will be inspired by this record of the success of the gospel in our diocese in previous generations, and pray that the same sun will shine once more upon us.’ Pobl Dewi
"This volume is a long overdue contribution to discussions of British religious culture, and a vital step in improving our understanding of the contributions of regional religious cultures to the overall national picture." Hannah Thomas, Journal of Ecclesiastical History