Improving the Churches Directory Content


Orange    Help and Guidance 2021: Modified Page: Version 1.1



The Churches Directory is now very extensive and includes almost all the primary Anglican churches at the heart of the traditional ecclesiastical parishes as well as many others. 

Sources for additional information

There are many sources of information which can be used to identify churches that exist now or have existed in the past. The major difficulty is that each source uses different ways of describing the location of the individual churches and there are a significant number that provide insufficient information. This can lead to duplicate entries that need an expert with local knowledge to identify and resolve. Many of the older sources were targetted at an audience that knew the information already and so an implied reference was enough. Nowadays that isn't common knowledge and research is required to resolve the conflicts. Some of the sources of conficts are:

  • Local district names have changed.
  • Street names have changed.
  • If a church is on the corner of two streets then different sources may use different street names.
  • Modern directories and listings frequently provide the address of the minister, and not the church itself.
  • Churches with a dedication are much easer to identify, but dedications can change.
  • Many churches have closed and merged. The current name of a church may be St. xxxx and St. yyyyy. This might be the original name, but frequently it is a combination of the names of two merged churches, and you have to work out which is which.
  • Over the years the denomination may have changed, e.g., if it was originally Independent then at the end of the 19th century it is likely to be described as Congregational.
  • In listings of register holdings, the description might provide a distinct reference to identify the church. However it may contain just xxxxx Methodist church. This may be enough to uniquely identify it within that set, but what if there was some other Methodist church in that place for which no records survive?

A good starting point is found in the lists published by record offices detailing their holdings of parish registers. That will give you the basic infrastructure of the older churches. The areas that will be most deficient will be those churches that haven't deposited registers and many of the non-conformists will be in this group. Note: don't fall into the trap of using the earliest date in the deposited registers as the founding date of the church. You need to use other sources to check that so, when searching online, use the form <yyyy.

Look at directories, and start with one dated around 1900 which should give most of the churches that are normally used. Later than 1900 you will get a few more but also lose some as non-conformist churches started to combine. You will probably find that the Anglican and larger or older churches of other faiths are covered reasonably well and more detail is given in the large towns. But for smaller places you may get something like. "There are also Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels".

Websites exist that will help and are particularly useful for finding churches founded fairly recently. Use a search engine, and look for "xxxx diocese" and that should locate details of Anglican and Catholic churches. The Church Near You website will locate CofE churches near a given postcode. The amount of information present on a church website will vary enormously. The address might be that of the minister, the founding date might be of the current church building, and watch out for joint benefices where some churches have closed. The information on the web about the history of non-conformist churches is usually less useful because of recent merging of congregations. You will find the present structure and names but it will be difficult to match that with the older, individual, churches.


New/moved churches

Most churches have been located on the same site for many years even if they may have occupied more than one building. But some have changed locations, usually because the congregation has grown too large for the current church building. In these cases, create a separate entry in the database for each location with appropriate closing and opening dates for each site. Then, when you decide to produce an individual web page for the church, make each related entry  point to that same individual web page and describe the change in location in the Church History section. Note: don't create multiple entries for the case in which a church has been demolished and rebuilt on the same site.