Our latest project will be starting in January but there is still time to sign up:

Our Project Director is Dr. Kate Tiller of Kellogg College Oxford

Our aim is to develop a cross-disciplinary research network based on collaboration between academic investigators and non-academic partners. The project will encompass historical, sociological and architectural approaches to the changing role of religious dissent in local communities in England and Wales between 1850 and 1939. It will centre on shared sources and questions, enabling informed local researchers to record and analyse Nonconformist buildings, history and culture in their localities.

Our project theme reflects the fact that by 1850 'Chapel' was a widespread and significant feature of local and national life. In the following period it became increasingly important, touching not only the religious but also the social, educational, political and cultural aspects of people's public and private lives. The presence of Nonconformity gave a distinctive character to many communities. To be 'chapel' was an important source of choice and identity for individuals, families and groups.

Our research agenda draws on themes and debates amongst historians and sociologists of religion and in local studies. Project material for researchers will include an introduction to this literature, a research guide and case studies.

Examples of the questions to be considered include the relationship between religious dissent and political behaviour, the social structure of Nonconformist congregations and how and why this varied between localities and denominations, the role of women in Nonconformity and its impact on them, the significance of developments in Nonconformist architecture, and the changing character and importance of Nonconformity in what was arguably a period of secularisation.

Phase One of the project will run from January - September 2017.

It will focus on recording, or recovering a record, of the local Nonconformist buildings including chapels, schools, Sunday schools, meeting rooms, institutes and ministers' houses and making an initial assessment of the Nonconformist culture of which they were part. This profiling will also reveal the extent of the surviving local building and documentary record.

Phase Two will run from October 2017 - December 2018.

The material gathered in Phase One will reveal options for further research involving the in-depth use of chapel records, record linkage methods and analysis to address the research agenda described above. Hopefully some more members will feel enthused to join in with this exciting project which has strong committed leadership and will offer supportive research guidance and training materials, advice and occasional seminars. Work is progressing on setting up a dedicated website which will publicise the project, disseminate findings and provide a networking vehicle for participants.

If you would like to join the project please email Janet Cumner, our Project Co-ordinator on no later than 31st December. Janet will also be happy to answer any of your queries about the project

Go to the project website