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Digital Parish Sources

This page features:

  • Archival and written resources in digital format
  • Audio resources
  • Visual and material resources
Archival and written resources

(in digital format; for printed materials see ‘Printed Primary Sources‘)

  • 'Akten zur Kirchenvisitation im Markgraftum Brandenburg-Ansbach' [Documents relating to the visitation of parishes in Brandenburg-Ansbach] (1528/29; Staatsarchiv Nürnberg, Fsm. Ansbach, Religionsakten 8)
  • Archbishops’ Registers of the Diocese of York 1225-1646: pilot project providing digitized versions of a sample of eight registers, together with technical reports (full data capture planned)
  • Ardchattan Parish Archive: an online guide to the parish sources of Ardchattan in west Scotland.
  • 'Berichte der herzoglich-bayerischen Pfleger über die Pfarreien im Rentamt Landshut' [Reports on the parishes of the district of Landshut by officials of the Bavarian duchy] (1524; Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, GR Fasz. 622 Nr. 285)
  • Borromeo, Charles, Instructions fabricae et suppellectilis ecclesiasticae (2 books, 1577), transcribed and translated by Evelyn Voelker: the Archbishop of Milan’s guide to the arrangement and liturgical furnishings of churches for visitations of his diocese
  • Braşov [Kronstadt] in Transylvania / Central Romania: digitization of the archival records kept in the Honterus parish building of the Lutheran Church [Archiv und Bibliothek der Honterusgemeinde], including images of documents like charters, parish registers, books, mandates etc from the 14-17thC; made available online as part of the British Library's 'Endangered Archives Programme'
  • Cause Papers Database: a searchable catalogue of more than 14,000 cause papers relating to cases heard between 1300 and 1858 in the Church Courts of the diocese of York. The original records – the most extensive records of their type in the United Kingdom – are held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York. The catalogue contains basic information (people, places, type, keywords) about each case, allowing searches for e.g. “parish”, “churchwarden” in specific places and periods etc.
  • Church Court Records Online: 'In partnership with several local authority and university archives in Scotland, National Records of Scotland (NRS) look after the records of Scotland's presbyterian church courts.The records consist of the minutes and accounts of kirk sessions, presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. They also contain a wide variety of other documents, providing a picture of everyday life in Scotland from the sixteeenth century onwards and amount to more than 25,000 volumes, about 5 million pages of information. We plan to begin making church court records available online in 2017, following the re-launch of the ScotlandsPeople website in 2016. We anticipate that it will take a significant time to upload the full range of kirk session, presbytery, synod and General Assembly records for the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which amount to more than 20,000 volumes. Researchers will have the choice of accessing the records free of charge in various Scottish archives, or using the subscription service.'
  • Church Records: compilation of medieval ecclesiastical sources from ‘Medieval English Genealogy’
  • Churchwardens’ Accounts: a guide leaflet compiled by the Borthwick Institute for Archives, York.
  • Churchwardens' Accounts of Butleigh (Somerset) 1675-1766: with information on names mentioned in the sources
  • Churchwardens’ Accounts of Loughborough 1585-1658: compiled by David Postles, Northampton University
  • Churchwardens’ Accounts of St Mary’s, Gries, a rural parish near Bozen/Bolzano (South Tyrol, Northern Italy):Start of Parish Income 1422
    Start of Parish Expenses 1436
    Transcript of the two passagesExcerpts kindly submitted and transcribed by Hannes Obermair of the Stadtarchiv Bozen / Archivio Storico Cittá di Bolzano. The original documents – previously in the possession of the Drechsel-Mayr family – are now held in theSüdtiroler Landesarchiv / Archivio Provinciale di Bolzano.

 Bibliothek Greifswald

Manuscripts of the Bibliothek des Geistlichen Ministeriums, an early modern parish library, in the Dom of St Nikolai at Greifswald / Germany. Photo: BK.

Audio resources:
  • Danish church music from the fragmentary 15thC Missale Danicum 1, as featured on ‘Liturgical Fragments from Denmark’ [online audio samples]
  • English pre-Reformation parish music: John Taverner (English composer c. 1490-1545; active e.g. as lay clerk at the collegiate parish church of Tattershall , Lincs., in the 1520s and as a singer at St Botolph, Boston, in the late 1530s), Missa ‘Western Wynde’, performed by Choir of New College, Oxford; Edward Higginbottom [online audio sample of ‘Gloria’]
  • English post-Reformation parish music: examples of psalm-singing and organ accompaniments recreated by the Dufay Collective for Christopher Marsh’s Music and Society in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2010), audio CD, tracks nos 43-46, and of bell-ringing performed by the ringers of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, nos 47-48.
  • German church music:
    • Martin Luther (1483-1546): 16thC Lutheran music [audio samples]
    • Johann Sebastian Bach (German composer 1685-1750; cantor at the parish church of St Thomas, Leipzig, in the 1730s and 40s) [audio samples of organ works]
  • Greek church music performed by the Byzantine choir at Athens [online audio samples]
  • Musicians and choirs specializing in late medieval and Renaissance church music:
  • 'Village Music Project': a website dedicated to the traditional social dance music of England – where it came from, where it went to, who it travelled with and where it is now (with details on pre-1850 publishers and transcriptions).

Benefactions table Thame

Table of benefactions for the poor of Thame (Oxon.) [Photo: BK]

Visual and material resources:
  • Buckinghamshire Stained Glass: covering some 1600 windows and compiled by Cliff and Monica Robinson.
  • 'Chaproniere Collection': contains mainly black and white photographs of English parish churches compiled since the early 1950s by Dr Donna Chaproniere & donated to the University of Leicester in 2008. Some of the photographs were used to publish English Parish Churches volume 1: East Anglia South by Phillip Lindley, Alex Moseley & Donna Chaproniere, published on CD-ROM by Brepols (2001).
  • ‘Church Gallery’: images of English parish churches and cathedrals compiled by BBC History.
  • ‘Church Heritage Record’: publicly accessible database due to be launched in spring 2015. Compiled by ChurchCare with the assistance of English Heritage, it will feature over 16,000 entries on church buildings in England (integrated with a Geographic Information System GIS), covering a wide variety of topics from architectural history and archaeology, to worship and the surrounding natural environment.
  • 'Church Monuments Society': website featuring a monument of the month, events and resources associated with tombs, effigies, carvings and other commemorative features
  • Church Plans Online‘: this searchable database provides digital copies of over 12,000 church plans (and further details) submitted to the ‘Incorporated Church Building Society’ over the last 200 years (and kept at Lambeth Palace Library)
  • 'Churches Conservation Trust': access to wallpaintings, art & architecture of buildings in their care, in partnership with Google Arts & Culture
  • Cornish Parish Churches: offers photographs of all parish churches (as well as many fonts and stained glass windows) in Cornwall. An interactive DVD is also available.
  • Cornish Stained Glass: information on Cornish windows compiled by Joanna Mattingly and Michael Swift.
  • Denmark’s Medieval Altarpieces‘: documents all surviving and known altarpieces within the present-day boundaries of the country; compiled by Sissel F. Plathe and Jens Bruun
  • The Digital Atlas of England: co-ordinated by C. B. Newham, this project aims to obtain photographs of all rural churches (and some associated buildings) in England. By late 2011, the archive included 330,000 pictures, representing 70 per cent of the envisaged total. This presentation provides an impression of the range of buildings, furnishings and motives.
  • English Local History Images: compiled by David Postles (includes many pictures of parish churches and their interiors; old site)
  • ‘Ex voto’ pictures database from Sammarei nr Passau (Lower Bavaria, Germany), supplied by the historical demographer A.E. Imhof (Berlin).
  • 'Farbdiaarchiv zur Wand- und Deckenmalerei [Archive of colour slides of wall-/ceiling-paintings]': database containing 39.000 digitized images of frescos and other painted ornamentation from churches, monasteries, castles and other buildings in Germany, Austria, Poland and Russia (dating from the 10th to 19thC, searchable by places/artists and hosted by the 'Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte' in Munich)
  • Heritage Technology: website of Heritage technology specialists developing virtual reconstructions for the interactive “Parish Church” DVD published by the Christianity and Culture initiative. Sample materials include York's Micklegate Priory Revealed and Stratford-upon-Avon guild chapel.
  • Hesselager Kirke (Denmark): Video presentation by Axel Bolvig - the same page contains films on various aspects of Danish wall paintings and a paper on the relationship between words/images delivered at the Courthauld in 2009
  • Hidden Florence: website / phone app allowing the rediscovery of Renaissance Florence through the eyes of a contemporary; among other attractions, users can take a a virtual walk through the lost church of San Pier Maggiore (into which the National Gallery's altarpiece of Jacobo di Cione has been inserted)
  • Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata
  • Imaging the Bible in Wales Database: online collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Biblical artwork (from churches as well as other sources) compiled at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
  • The Medieval Mass: A Video Reconstruction, entitled 'Ecclesia Endre dominica XVIII post trinitatis' (4 October 1450), directed by Christer Bjõrkvall and introduced by Anders Piltz (1990)
  • 'Medieval Portable Altars': documented between c. 600 and 1400 CE in the current geographic boundaries of Europe; website and database maintained by Sarah Luginbill at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Mobilier‘: searchable database of French material culture (incl. objects, furnishings, religious images and other heritage items associated with parish churches) provided by the Ministry of Culture and Communicatrion (click on link “mobilier” and then “recherche experte” in the left-hand menu to start searches)
  • Monumental Brasses: online images compiled by ‘Medieval English Genealogy’
  • Mundon St Mary's: go on a 3D virtual tour of a church in Essex - featuring a timber-framed tower, 16thC north porch, 18thC box pews, wall painting fragments, Creed / Lord's Prayer inscriptions, graffiti etc - declared redundant in 1970, since restored by the Friends of Friendless Churches and digitized in conjunction with Lincoln Conservation.
  • ‘Parish Church and the Landscape Wiki’: online collection of church images from the dioceses of Cambrai, Le Mans and Schleswig produced in the course of a research project based at Oxford Brookes (searchable by parish and subject).
  • Photo collection started at the Medieval Research Centre at Leicester University, featuring parish churches (e.g. Beverley, Fotheringay, Lavenham, Warwick etc), cathedrals, vernacular architecture etc dating from medieval and early modern times (compiled by David Postles and freely downloadable for academic purposes)
  • ‘Pilgrims and Pilgrimage’: illustrations and commentary, e.g. on the late Middle Ages and Reformation period, provided by the 'Christianity and Culture' project at the University of York. CD-version of the project includes a 3D-reconstruction of the parish church of St Mary, Thirsk, on the eve of the Reformation.
  • Pitts Theology Library: Digital Image Archive
  • Poor relief and charitable benefactions in Münster (Germany): materials from an exhibition
  • Post-Reformation Wall Painting Project: launched in 2014 by C.B Newham and Dr Ellie Pridgeon to tackle the lack of comprehensive catalogues or academic literature on the painting corpus, which is extremely extensive. Focusing on murals in English churches between 1559 and 1836, the project aims to document, research and publish on these visual sources.
  • Rare Reformation Relics: virtual exhibition (under the auspices of ArtRefo) presenting images and objects from the collections of museums across Europe that testify to the richness and variety of post-Reformation visual and material culture. Here portraits and visual satires from both Lutheran and Reformed contexts are juxtaposed with objects as diverse as enamel plates, liturgical textiles and communion vessels.
  • Religion in late medieval Scotland: 450 images illustrating religion and society in late medieval Scotland, taken from manuscripts, incunabula and early printed books in Edinburgh University Library
  • The Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Corporal Works of Mercy‘: searchable church wall paintings database compiled by Miriam Gill
  • Stained Glass in Wales: searchable online catalogue/database of work from the fourteenth century to the present day, compiled under the auspices of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies by Martin Crampin.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon, Guild Chapel: information and teaching resources relating to the reconstruction of late medieval wall paintings (Doom, Dance of Death, Holy Cross legend) in a collaborative project of historians, archaeologists and Heritage Technology Limited.
  • Swedish Medieval Art (Medeltidens bildvärld): provides access to some 19,000 pictures of artworks (sculptures, paintings, fonts etc) from Swedish churches, searchable by region/place, material, topic and museum (in Swedish).
  • Teregua (Valtellina, Italy): 16th century wall paintings (by Vincenzo de Barberis) and wood sculptures of the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità [Holy Trinity Chapel] in the parish of S. Nicolò, Valfurva.
  • Wallpaintings in Danish churches are featured in these two extensive online resources: (where reproductions can be obtained for commercial and other purposes) and Kalkmalerier i danske kirker (under the auspices of the Danish National Museum), both with search functions
  • Wall paintings in medieval English parish churches

lyddington_rails_1635.jpg lyddington_cw_fowler__jordan_1635.jpg

Somewhat against the spirit of the Laudian reforms (aiming to re-enhance the ‘beauty of holiness’ through moving altars to the east wall of chancels and demarcating them by means of a rail), the parishioners of St Andrew, Lyddington (Rutland), railed their communion table on all four sides (left). The work was carried out in 1635 under the supervision of the vicar, Richard Rudd, and the churchwardens, Kenolm Fowler and Nicholas Jordan (initials on the right). Photos: BK.