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Synopsis

This book explores popular support for the Church of England during a critical period, from the Stuart Restoration to the mid eighteenth century, when Churchmen perceived themselves to be under attack from all sides. In many provincial parishes, the clergy also found themselves in dispute with their congregations. These incidents of dispute are the focus of a series of detailed case studies, drawn from the diocese of Salisbury, which help to bring the religion of the ordinary people to life, while placing local tensions in their broader national context. The period 1660-1740 provides important clues to the long-term decline in the popularity of the Church. Paradoxically, conflicts revealed not anticlericalism but a widely-shared social consensus supporting the Anglican liturgy and clergy: the early eighteenth century witnessed a revival. Nevertheless, a defensive clergy turned inwards and proved too inflexible to respond to lay wishes for fuller participation in worship.

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