The Eighteenth-Century Church in Britain Terry Friedman

Publication date:
31 Mar 2011
Paul Mellon Centre
800 pages: 267 x 216mm
520 b-w + 185 color illus.
Sales territories:


This ambitious and generously illustrated study is an in-depth account of the architectural character of a vast range of ecclesiastical buildings, including the Anglican parish churches, medieval cathedrals repaired and modified during the period, Dissenting and Catholic chapels (as well as town-house, country-house, college and hospital chapels) and mausoleums. The first substantial study of the subject to appear in over half a century, it explores not only the physical aspects of these buildings, but church-going activities from the cradle to the grave, ranging from how congregations were accommodated and how vicars lived, to how the finances were organized and musical events were arranged.

Terry Friedman guides the reader through the church, identifying its various components along the way, and confronts such issues as the use of authentic colour and the worship of images (with special attention to pictorial painted glass). He describes the multifarious causes of rebuilding and new-builds - decay, destruction by storms and fire - the contributions of architects, builders and craft persons, and the construction and maintenance of the fabric of the buildings. Friedman also traces the progress of Gothic and how it was expressed in hundreds of churches up and down the country, and discusses hitherto disregarded aspects such as the revival of Romanesque and the idiosyncratic hybridisation of Gothic and Classical in the same building (the 'Bastard Breed').

The Classical tradition is treated in separate, distinct categories: the Baroque of Antique temple forms; the persistence of Palladian, Jonesian, Wrenian and Gibbsian patterns; the emergence and development of Neoclassicism in the works of Adam, Chambers, Dance, Stuart and others; and, the dazzling example of Greenwich Hospital Chapel. A closing chapter charts the impact beyond Britain, especially in America and the burgeoning United States. In addition, fully documented, chronologically sequenced design and construction histories of 272 key ecclesiastical buildings are presented on an accompanying CD-ROM.

Terry Friedman is one of the leading historians of eighteenth-century British architecture and the author of James Gibbs (1984) and The Georgian Parish Church: Monuments to Posterity (2004).

"It is the most ambitious and deeply researched history of English church architecture in the 18th century so far undertaken….The scope is breathtaking."—John Martin Robinson, Country Life

"This book is of such obvious importance that anyone at all serious about the history of architecture or the history of the Church simply must own it. It is a brilliant insight into the buildings of the period, and profoundly revises our understanding of the religious life in the 18th century."—Revd Dr William Whyte, Church Times

"Assured and insightful, and as a whole his study greatly enriches our understanding of eighteenth-century church architecture… [A] magisterial book."—Thomas Keymer, Times Literary Supplement

"A sumptuous guide to a neglected age of church building, offering authoritative coverage and impeccable scholarship, and depicting the eclectic range of styles used by Georgian architects."—Nigel Aston, The Tablet

"A rich future quarry for anyone at all interested in the 18th – century British place of worship."—Roger White, Historic House

"An impressive and lavishly illustrated study."—Contemporary Review

"It should be recommended reading for all eighteenth-century students and will remain essential for all future enquiries for many years to come."—Kerry Downes, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Newsletter No.105

"A compulsive desire to get under the skin of the Anglican church through contemporary source material pervades Terry Friedman’s fulsomely documented and generously illustrated survey. Richly endowed with contemporary quotations, it brings a vast quantity of new primary material to the subject… Incisively written and meticulously edited, his book will remain a standard work on the subject for decades to come." Gordon Higgott, Burlington Magazine

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