This pioneering book is based upon very extensive analysis of the famous 1851 Census of Religious Worship and earlier sources such as the 1676 Compton Census. Its scope and modern analytical methods eclipse all previous British work on the subject, and it is a major step forward in the study of religious history. The authors stress contextual and regional understanding of religion. Among the subjects covered for all of England and Wales are the geography of the Church of England, Roman Catholicism, the old and new dissenting denominations, the spatial complementarity of denominations, and their importance for political history. A range of further questions are then analysed, such as regional continuities in religion, the growth of religious pluralism, Sunday schools and child labour during industrialisation, free and appropriated church sittings, landownership and religion, and urbanisation and regional 'secularisation'.
'K. D. M. Snell and Paul S. Ell have shown the way to achieve what many despaired of, chronicling important years and signs of the growth in religious pluralism with all its social consequences.' Owen Chadwick, Times Literary Supplement 'A great deal of thought and scholarship has gone into this book. The figures illustrating the text are magnificent and the bibliography leaves one stunned that so much could be condensed into one volume. Open History '... lucid and well organized book, which is distinguished by its excellent maps, that the sophisticated statistical techniques that are employed in it take full account of, and explore the vagaries of a set of material that emanated from a variety of local circumstances. These techniques are fully explained in text, footnotes, and appendices, but the regional emphasis, which is a strength of the book, means that its authors remain fully alert to the varieties of experience as well as behavior that lie behind the figures, and which are as important an influence on religious life as the social and economic conditions that they also discuss.' Catholic Historical Review 'Rival Jerusalems stands out from this existing literature as by far the most important, systematic and interdisciplinary secondary analysis of the 1851 religious census to have been published ... a mine of quantitative and cartographic information on ... Victorian religion ...'. English Historical Review '... an apparently endless supply of fascinating and significant detail about Victorian religious practice ... Anyone interested in the social history of religion will wish that they had written an even longer book ... an invaluable source of information for future discussions of the decline of British Christianity because of its wealth of suggestive detail.' The Historical Journal '... a wonderful resource ...'. Journal of Rural History '... it is likely to become what it deserves to be - the authoritative work of reference on the 1851 religious census ... it provides something long sought-for and needed, a thorough analysis and interpretation. Rival Jerusalems has been worth waiting for.' The Local Historian '... an indispensable context within which local historians of Victorian religion can work.' History '... an admirable piece of work ... the authors are to be congratulated ... for providing such an excellent set of tools with which to begin this task ...'. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'I found this one of the most stimulating books I have read for many years ... it offers a genuinely fresh perspective on English social and economic history, especially at the regional and local level ... it should be essential reading from now on for anyone interested in the social, economic or population geography of Victorian England and Wales.' Local Population Studies 'This is a major achievement. Anyone interested in nineteenth century religion in England and Wales must read it. But better than that, anyone who disagrees with Snell and Ell can access the data and repeat the analyses.' Albion 'This well-written book is a mine of information on the Victorian religious landscape and will be an absolute must for the Victorianist and church historian.' The Heythrop Journal 'a specialists' book, there is much to attract in this primary research. There are results in all sorts of geographic, graphic and tabular presentation, and a greater nuanced understanding emerges of many features of the religious and denominational characteristics of England and Wales in 1851.' Journal of Urban History