1st Edition

Urban Growth and the Medieval Church Gloucester and Worcester

By Nigel Baker, Richard Holt Copyright 2004

    It has long been recognised that the Church played a major role in the development of towns and cities from the earliest times, a fact attested to by the prominence and number of ecclesiastical buildings that still dominate many urban areas. Yet despite this physical evidence, and the work of archaeologists and historians, many important aspects of the early stages of urbanization in England are still poorly understood. Not least, there are many unanswered questions concerning the processes by which the larger towns emerged as planned settlements during the pre-Conquest centuries. Whilst the commitment of the Wessex kings is recognized, questions remain concerning the participation of the Church in this process. Likewise, our understanding of the Church's influence in the later development of towns is not yet fully developed. Many intriguing questions remain concerning such issues as the founding of parish churches and their boundaries, and the extent to which the Church, as a major landowner, helped shape the evolving identity of towns and their suburbs. It is questions such as these that this volume sets out to answer. Employing a wealth of historical and archaeological evidence, two key towns - Gloucester and Worcester - are closely examined in order to build up a picture of their respective developments throughout the medieval period. Through this multi-disciplinary and comparative approach, a picture begins to emerge the Church's role in helping to shape not only the spiritual, but also the social, economic and cultural development of the urban environment.

    Contents: Preface; Introduction; Gloucester and the Church before 1100; The landscape of medieval Gloucester; Gloucester: churches, chapels and parishes; Worcester and the Church before 1100; The landscape of medieval Worcester; Worcester: churches, chapels and parishes; The lesser churches and chapels of Gloucester and Worcester: conclusions; The development of the parishes; The major religious institutions: their lands and their role in urban growth; The major religious institutions: their relationship to urban secular authority; Ecclesiastical precincts in the urban landscapes; The suburbs and the Church; The Church, town-planning and public works; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.


    Nigel Baker, Richard Holt

    'One of the most significant urban studies for some time...well written, it really is important and a fine collaborative effort. Special mention for the 60-odd new plans which are exemplary.' British Archaeology 'Enough has been said to show that this handsomely produced book, with its 70 maps and plans, 19 plates and seven tables, is one to which all who have any interest in our medieval city must turn.' Worcestershire Recorder '...this is a fine work of scholarship, original and important.'Northern History '... a magnificient addition to medieval English urban history and greatly to be recommended.' Nottingham Medieval Studies 'Baker and Holt have compiled extensive archaeological and historical data in this meticulous, multidisciplinary study of the church's role in the urban development of medieval Gloucester and Worcester.' Choice '... this is a study of great and lasting value, with much to offer scholars working on other towns.' Landscape History '... a major interdisciplinary study in early urban history: one in which general conclusions about the Church's role in urban development are grounded in two splendidly detailed case studies, but which have important implications for many other towns... The richness of interpretation shown here is a model for other uban studies.' Urban History '... a magnificent addition to the study of urban history and thus greatly to be recommended.' Early Medieval Europe 'Never has the continuity of the English county town been demonstrated in more persuasive detail than in this learned and admirable study.' The Ricardian ’Les auteurs nous offrent donc un ouvrage d'une grande richesse, tant sur le plan factuel que méthodologique, qui fait désormais référence dans l'histoire urbaine de l'Angleterre et plus largement à l'échelle de l'Europe du Nord-Ouest pour qui veut étudier les imbrications entre l'Église, sous toutes ses formes, et l'espace urbain au Moyen Âge.’ Cahiers de civilisation médiévale