Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
HY32520, HY32620, HY32720, HY32820, HY32920, HA33320, HY33420, HY33720, HY34320, HY34520, HY34620, HY34720, HY34820

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars plus individual tutorials for essay and project planning.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 PROJECT (5000 WORDS)  60%
Semester Assessment 1 ESSAY (1500 WORDS)  20%
Semester Assessment 1 SOURCE ANALYSIS (1500 WORDS)  20%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate familiarity with the main types of and elements within a medieval parish church

Demonstrate an awareness of the different approaches to and sources for the study of medieval parish churches

Analyze and critically reflect on the parish church as a reflection of social or religious change

Construct and sustain historical arguments orally (unassessed) and in writing (assessed)

work both independently and collaboratively and to participate in group discussions (not assessed)

Brief description

This module will develop in students an awareness of the physical remains of the medieval church at a local level, and in particular introduce them to the ways in which historians explore the parish. The introductory session will contextualize the parish within the religious, socio-economic and cultural framework of medieval England and Wales. Seminars will then focus on the physical aspects of parish churches; when, where and why were parish churches built? How did they change over time, and for what reasons? The interior of most surviving medieval parish churches is very different from how they would have looked before the Reformation, and students will explore how and why this is the case. Attention will also be paid to regional patterns in the style, size and decoration of parish churches. The final session will consider the impact of the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries on the appearance of parish churches, and how this effected and still informs historical investigations. This module will require students to use a range of documentary and non-documentary sources, and to consider the different approaches and agendas behind scholarly interpretations of this range of evidence. Particular attention will be paid to how to interpret physical remains, and how to use documentary evidence to reconstruct lost material. There will be a group visit to the church of St Padarn, Llanbadarn Fawr, and students will be encouraged to visit other medieval parish churches


The parish and parish churches have been used by historians and archaeologists for many years as a way into the mindset, devotional practices and daily lives of medieval men and women. In the last couple of decades there has been renewed interest in and a reassessment of parochial evidence, with a more integrated, cross-disciplinary approach. The aim of this module is to introduce students to the parish as an ecclesiastical unit and a community, and then to focus on the material aspects of the church; its location, structure, component elements and furnishings and fittings. Students will be expected to consider where, when and how parish churches were built, rebuilt or extended in the context of socio-economic, cultural and devotional changes. The furnishings and fittings, particularly side-altars and chapels, glass and wall-paintings will be explored, with questions of why, when and by whom additions or changes were made central to the study. Students will be expected to use some edited parish records, and to explore the physical remains of parish churches and their interiors.


1. Introduction: the medieval parish
2. From small beginnings: Early medieval parish churches
3. The main elements of a medieval parish church; form and structure
4. The main elements of a medieval parish church; the interior
5. Decoration: glass and wall-paintings
6. Decoration; statues, seating and music
7. Sacred and profane: the uses of the parish church and their impact on its appearance
8. Regional differences: northern East Anglia
9. Regional differences: west Wales and Cornwall
10. The impact of the Reformation on the form and appearance of the parish church
Individual tutorials of 10 to 15 minutes.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. Literary skills will be assessed through written assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given on improving students¿ research techniques and essay writing skills.
Information Technology Students will be required to locate primary and secondary source materials through library and on-line sources. Students will be encouraged to word-process their assessed work.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will help develop oral and written skills. Other activities, including research, assessment of information and writing in a clear manner, will further develop useful skills of analysis and presentation.
Problem solving Students will be required to locate and assess primary source materials. Assessed through written assignments.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work. The latter will be assessed though written assignments.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Students will work together in seminar preparation and discussion.

Reading List

Essential Reading
(2006.) The parish in late medieval England :proceedings of the 2002 Harlaxton Symposium /edited by Clive Burgess and Eamon Duffy. Shaun Tyas Primo search Anderson, Mary D esir ee (1971.) History and imagery in British churches /M.D. Anderson. J. Murray Primo search Brooke, Christopher (1971.) Medieval Church and society :collected essays /Christopher Brooke. Sidgwick and Jackson Primo search Duffy, Eamon. (1992.) The stripping of the altars :traditional religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 /Eamon Duffy. Yale University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6