Researching and discovering information about all the churches within a county takes a lot of time and effort, and it is not always easy to find the information if you don't have local knowledge of an individual town or place. So this is where we can all help as even just small individual items of information help build up the whole picture which helps other researchers. You are all encouraged to help with areas that you know, but first please take a look at the database statistics page which details which county sections of the church database are being actively maintained. Unfortunately if your county section is not currently being developed, we do not have anybody who can add any church information for that county.
What are the individual church database entries?
All the basic details are held in a database, but first you need to become clear about the individual 'church' units that it uses. Firstly in the documentation the word 'church' is used for a place of worship purely for convenience. We apologise for it not being appropriate for non-Christian denominations, but more appropriate terms are used when information is displayed about those places of worship. The other concept you need to be clear about is that the term 'church' is used to refer to the body of people rather than the buildings, although they are closely related. The records that we use are created by the body of people who over time may move to other locations/buildings and the original building may then be used by another body of people. So if more than one denomination use a particular building over time, each have unique entries in the database. Also if the body of people move to another building on another site then we hold different records in the database for each site. However they are of course linked together in the full church details. Note that movement to a new building next door is treated as being at the same location.
Now there is one further complication in that besides having entries for churches, we also hold them for cemeteries that aren't attached to a church. A churchyard is just treated as part of the church, but municipal cemeteries, or those owned by a church but out of town have thier own distinct entry in the database. The cemeteries invariably have a chapel, but this isn't used for regular worship, and doesn't have a body of people creating records of events other than burials.
How to discover new churches
Look at record office register holdings, maps and directories.
The details that we hold can be broadly clasified into three types, basic details, pictures, and further details. They are divided up this way, so the individual county section maintainer can concentrate on particular areas at a time and thus minimise the effort required and provide a better service to users. Processing basic pieces of information can be done quickly with little effort beyond cutting and pasting whilst the others take considerably more effort to deal with.
The results of simple database searches are a list of churches ordered by distance from the starting point, and for county sections that are being developed, these contain an icon for each piece of basic information that is being requested. You can click onto these icons to supply that information.
Hints about taking pictures.
- Monumental incriptions.
Although we have details of the old parishes for most counties, most of the individual counties aren't currently being developed as we haven't found anybody volunteering to do that yet. However for those that are being developed a flag is set in the database which tells you what information is currently required for each individual church. For an example look in Liverpool, Lancashire where you will see against each entry an icon indicating which piece if information is required. When all the basic information has been collected the lists become even more useful and look a lot tidier e.g. Lytham, Lancashire.
The collection of information about churches is being undertaken in two stages. Firstly the basic details including information such as its exact location and when that has all been collected moving on to record other more detailed information such as the church history and where to find the records. As an example of this take a look at Denton, St. Lawrence.