Church Buildings and Church Services
The 18th-century Church of England has had a bad press. It has been condemned as corrupt and lethargic, its churches as dilapidated and unsightly, its liturgy as slovenly and tedious. The orthodox modern church-building generation can form but little notion of the carelessness, the irreverence and ignorance which prevailed in regard to matters ecclesiastical half a century ago. The evidence from episcopal records and archidiaconal visitation records, in particular, suggests that the Church of England in the 18th century was a generally efficient organisation, that abuses were a cause of concern, and that when it was found impossible to rectify them this was nearly always either the result of some situation of long standing. Problems over the maintenance of church buildings were not new in the period after 1660: churches were out of repair and carelessly kept at all periods, especially during the immediate pre-Reformation period, in both town and countryside.
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