Church and Religion

Church and religion have been a dominant and underlying factor in the history of Britain. This historic theme explores the many functions it has had within society. Use the timeline and maps to explore the theme of church and religion in Britain.

  • English Medieval Pilgrimage
  • Book of Kells Medieval Masterpiece
  • Cult of the Virgin Mary
  • Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1754
  • Crossbones Graveyard
  • Libby Lane 1st Lady Bishop of Church of England
  • Who was Pelagius?
  • Iona heart of Celtic Christianity
  • Thomas Becket and Henry II

 The triangle of ecclesiastical power, monarchical power and political power has been the subject of many struggles. 
Read how the dynamics between King John and the church brought about Magna Carta.

The country has been stretched and squeezed over the question of religion, society changed, attitudes and tolerances altered. Consider the Reformation and the arrival of the Hanoverian kings. Religion has been fundamental in what Britain is today.

The Church of England also has a law-making role in Britain. Twenty-six bishops sit in the House of Lords and are known as the Lords Spiritual. They are there to bring a religious ethos to the secular process of law but in a multi cultural society, many now question their role there.

The role of the Christian church in British history underpins much of how and why society evolved as it did. For hundreds of years it played a pivotal role both in the lives of ordinary people and the highest in the land.

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.

James Madison 1803

Church and Religion
The sign of the Cross, seen in so many guises

Britain is not just home to the Church of England. Many other faiths have impacted our society and communities have grown around these faiths. We consider the role of church and religion in terms of modern history.

Use the timeline below to explore the history of the church in Britain. At the moment in covers the period AD 84 – 1558 and the accession of Queen Elizabeth I and will be added to over time. If you want to contact us about it  Simply go to our contact page by clicking here. If it looks to be all about the Christian church that is because that was the main religion in Britain to that point. As the timeline is added to so the topic will become more rounded.

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English Medieval Pilgrimage

English Medieval Pilgrimage

The English Medieval pilgrimage holds up a mirror to what life was really like in Britain during these fraught and terrifying times. Who undertook these journeys and why?

Book of Kells Medieval Masterpiece

Book of Kells Medieval Masterpiece

The Book of Kells is a Medieval masterpiece that survived the Viking raids over a thousand years ago and can be seen at Trinity College Dublin.

Cult of the Virgin Mary

Cult of the Virgin Mary

The Cult of the Virgin Mary is seen by many as having it’s origins in the Medieval period but the mythologizing of Mary began with Pope Gregory I. It grew as the Crusaders returned to the west and shrines and icons to the Virgin Mary appeared in churches, on the wayside and in people’s homes.

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Law and Democracy

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754 was necessary to stamp out the problem of clandestine marriages which had become rampant in 17th and early 18th century London.

Crossbones Graveyard

Crossbones Graveyard

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Intriguing London

Crossbones graveyard in Southwark is adorned with colourful ribbons, a tribute to those Winchester Geese and others who exist on the margins of society. This burial ground has been in existence since Medieval times.

Libby Lane 1st Lady Bishop of Church of England

Libby Lane 1st Lady Bishop of Church of England

1st Woman Bishop Libby Lane ordained by the Church of England by the Archbishop of York, what a moment in British History to celebrate.

Church and Religion Timeline

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DATETITLE
84Conquest of Britain by ArgicolaAgricola
During the Roman Period in British History.
200Planting of the church in Roman Britain
An approximate date, from works by Tertullian and Origen written between 208 and 240
397Mission of St Ninian in Galloway
463Death of St Patrick
Dates surrounding St Patrick are subjective
563Foundation of the monastery of Iona by St Clumba
597Planting of the church in Kent by St Augustine
603Interview of St Augustine and the Welsh bishops
604Foundation of the English sees of London and Rochester
604Death of St Augustine
616Banishment of Mellitus Bishop of London
634Planting of the church in Wessex by Birinus
664Conference of Whitby
666Consecration of St Chad as Bishop of York
668Consecration of Theodore as Archbishop of Canterbury
669St Chad becomes Bishop of Lichfield
669Wilfrid becomes Bishop of York
673Synod of Hertford
678Division of the Northumbrian diocese.
678Appeal of Wilfrid
681Banishment of Wilfrid
681Wilfrid evangelises Sussex
685Consecration of St Cuthbert as Bishop of Lindisfarne
687Death of St Cuthbert
687Reconcilliation between Theodore and Wilfrid
690Death of Theodore
690Quarrel between Aldfrid and Wilfrid leading to second banishment of Wilfrid
702Assembly at Easterfield, second appeal of Wilfrid
706Restoration of Wilfrid to diocese of Hexham
709Death of Wilfrid
709Establishment of the see at Selsey
755Martyrdom of St Boniface
794Vikings invade Lindisfarne
827Egbert becomes King of the English
836Begining of major Danish invasions in South
870Danes capture east Anglia. Martyrdom of St Edmund
871Alfred accedes to the crown
871Danes attack Wessex
878Alred beats the Danes at Ethandun
878Peace of Chippenham
942Archbishop Odo professed a Benedictine monk at Fleury
959St Dunstan made Archbishop of Canterbury
988Death of St Dunstan
995The see of Lindisfarne finally established at Durham
1012Martyrdom of Archbishop Alfeah
1051Robert of Jumieges made Archbishop of Canterbury
1052Stigand made Archbishop of Canterbury
1065Consecration of Westminster Abbey to St Peter
1066Norman invasion and crowning of William I
1070Deposition of Stigand by the papal legates
1070King William I appoints Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury
1075Council at St Pauls.
The sees are moved to the towns
1076Council at Winchester
Enforcement of clerical celibacy. Refusal of fealty to the Pope by King William
1086Completion of the Domesday Survey
1093St Anselm appointed Archbishop of Canterbury
1095Council at Rockingham
1096First exile of St Anselm
1100Charter of Liberties
Return of St Anselm
1102Council at Westminster
1103Quarrel about investitures
Second exile of Archbishop Anselm
1107Council at London
Settlement of investiture question
1109Foundation of the see at Ely
1139Quarrel between King Stephen and the bishops
1139Civil War and anarchy
1153End of the anarchy
1162Thomas Becket appointed Archbishop of Canterbury
1163Quarrel between Becket and King Henry
1164Constitutions of Clarendon
Flight of Becket
1170Reconcilliation of Henry and Becket
1170Murder of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral
1174Penance of Henry at Canterbury
1184King Richard I crowned
1199King John crowned
1205Disputed election to Canterbury
1207Stephen Langton appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Innocent
1213Assembly at St Pauls. John submits to the Pope
England becomes a fief of the papacy
1215Granting of Magna Carta
1215Council of the Lateran
1215Pope absolves John of his promises and suspends Langton
1216King Henry III crowned
1219Arrival of Dominions in England
1224Arrival of the Franciscans in England
1237Legatine Council under Otho in London
1258Barons assume the government under de Montfort
1272King Edward I crowned
1295Organisation of the nation in parliament
1297Confirmation of the Charters
1301Parliament of Lincoln
1307King Edward II crowned
1308Suppression of the Knights Templar
1327King Edward III crowned
1349The Black Death
1366Final repudiation of fealty to the Pope
1378Begining of the Great Schism
1381The Peasant's Revolt
1382Condemnation of Wicliffe
1386The Lord's Appellant
1399King Henry IV crowned
1410Petition of the Commons for the disendowment of the higher clergy
1413King Henry V crowned
1414Lollard Act Passed
1417End of the Great Schism
1455War of the Roses
1461King Edward IV crowned
1483King Richard III crowned
1485King Henry VII crowned
1501Marriage of Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon
1509King Henry VIII crowned
1509King Henry marries Catherine of Aragon
1521Lutheran books burned at St Pauls
1526Introduction of Tynesdale's New Testament
1530Death of Wolsey
1531The recognition of the supremacy by the Convocations
1532The Submission of the Clergy
1533Cranmer made Archbishop of Canterbury
1533Decisions of the Convocations in favour of the divorce
1533The divorce pronounced by Cranmer
1534Act of the Submission of Clergy
1534Decision of the Pope against the divorce
1534Act of succession in Anne Boleyn and her children
1534Verbal Treasons Act
1534The Supreme Head Act
1535Execution of Fisher and More
1535Appointment of Cromwell to be vicar general
1535Visitation of the religious houses begun
1535Bull of excommunication of Henry VIII prepared
1536Act vesting the smaller religious houses in the King
1536Divorce and execution of Anne Boleyn
1536The Pilgrimage of Grace
1536Authorisation of the use of Coverdale's Bible
1536Act finally repudiating papal authority
1537The Bishop's Book
1538Authorisation of the Great Bible by the King
1538Burning of Lambert for Zwinglian opinions
1538Injunctions of Cromwell against superstitiously used images
1539Act confirming the suppression of all the religious houses
1539Act of the six articles
1540Execution of Cromwell by Act of Attainder
Burning of Barnes, Jerome, Gerard for Lutherian opinions
1543The Kings Book
1544Publication of the Litany in English
1545Act granting colleges, chantries and free chapels to the King
1547King Edward VI crowned
Government in the hands of Somerset and the council. Repeal of the treason acts of King Henry VIII and the Act of six articles
1548Order of the Council to remove images
1548Order of Communion published
1548Imprisonment of Gardiner
1549First prayer book of Edward VI
1549First Act of Uniformity
1549Act permitting clerical marriage
1549Act for the destruction of the Latin service books
1550Publication of the Ordinal
1550Destruction of stone altars
1550Cranmer's Treatise on the Eucharist
1552Deprivation of Gardiner
1552Second prayer book of Edward VI
1552Second Act of Uniformity
1553The 42 articles, the Catechism and Primer
1553Mary crowned Queen
1553Restoration of the deprived bishops
1554Marriage of Philip and Mary
1554Repeal of the anti papal statutes
1554Reconcilliation of England to the Papacy
1555 - 1558Marian persecutions.
Burning of Cranmer, Hooper, Ridley, Latimer and about 300 others, mainly for Zwinglian opinions.