First published in 1883 and republished here in fully-searchable digital format is the first edition of the Diocesan History of Worcester. Containing some 383 printed pages the History of the Diocese of Worcester was written by the Rev. I. Gregory Smith, then Vicar of Great Malvern and the Rev. Phipps Onslow and published in London by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge is the oldest Anglican mission organisation and was established by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray and others in 1698 and apart from the Oxford and Cambridge University is the oldest publishing house or organisation in England and apart from its extensive publication and distribution of bibles and religious tracts, from the 1830s onward it embarked on the publication and distribution of general religious histories of the Anglican Church and the History of the Diocese of Worcester is one such example.
Existing as it it did as a See on the frontier of east and west, sandwiched between the powerful and unruly Kingdoms of Northumbria and Wessex, the See of Worcester, situated co-extensively within the territory of the Wiccii in Mercia was from its foundation subjected to the 'vicissitudes of a debatable land in the midst of contending forces' and more than once in its early history was the Bishop of Worcester found in his civil capacity defending his See against invaders.
The History of the Diocese of Worcester is presented in a roughly chronological fashion beginning with the conversion of the indigenous Princess of Wiccii to Christianity. Here its was seen that the Wiccians favoured the development of monasticism, which was in marked contrast to the remainder of the Kingdom of Mercia and it was argued by Smith and Onslow that assisted the Princess in civilising their Kingdom as well as providing shelter in turbulent times for members of their families and the Cathedral of Worcester was originated as one of these earliest monastic cathedrals and refuges.
From the Wiccian conversion, the History of the Diocese of Worcester traces the development of the Diocese and its history in a further fifteen chapters starting with the supremacy of the Kingdom of Mercia, the upheavals wrought by the arrival of the Danes and later the Normans and the bloodshed and battles fought on the lands of the See of Worcester during the reigns of the Plantagenet Kings. Much of the History of the Diocese of Worcester is not unnaturally given over to the period immediately before the Reformation and the subsequent impact on the Diocese during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary and Elizabeth before concluding with chapters centred around the periods of the Civil War and the Restoration, concluding with the state of the Diocese in the eighteenth century.
Written from a number of primary sources, the History of the Diocese of Worcester is fully-indexed and contains a number of valuable appendices, which include a complete list of the Bishops of the Diocese as well as the Priors and Deans, a short history on the Wiccii and a description of the arms of the See of Worcester. The History of the Diocese of Worcester is a valuable addition on the rich and varied history of this diverse and important diocese.
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