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‘)

  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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 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 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.

Parish church of Gries near Bozen/Bolzano (South Tyrol/Italy) in 1980.
Picture by Hubert Walder, Denkmalamt Bozen.

Preacher from the 15thC "Schachbuch" by Cessolis

‘Preacher expounding the game of chess’, miniature from a manuscript of De ludo scacchorum by Jacobus de Cessolis (1458) [taken from the facsimile edition of Vatican Library, MS Cod. Pal. Lat. 961, published by Belser Verlag, Zurich 1988, f. 1r]


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 from various periods (provided by “Cultural Treasures of the Church of Greece”) [online audio samples]



Benefactions for the Poor at Thame (Oxon.)

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.
  • ‘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 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)
  • 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.
  • Cultural Treasures of the Church of Greece: website with digital map of Greek orthodox church treasures and samples of icons, architecture, church furnishings etc (mostly in Greek)
  • 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. A video introduction provides an impression of the range of buildings, furnishings and motives.
  • Discover Wallpaintings: Wallpainting Interpretation Project: dedicated to the study and dissemination of wallpaintings in over 80 churches in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust; project seeks to bring to life: the history and development of wallpaintings, the conservation techniques and challenges and the meaning behind wallpaintings… but crucially to make the information accessible, interesting and visually alluring to everyone
  • English Local History Images: compiled by David Postles (includes many pictures of parish churches and their interiors)
  • ‘Ex voto’ pictures database from Sammarai (Lower Bavaria, Germany), supplied by Mirko Zimmer
  • 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 movies showing Stratford-upon-Avon guild chapel, the construction of a typical medieval church aisle, generic changes from the Norman to Early English (exterior) and Anglo-Saxon to Early English (interior) periods as well as still images of twelfth-, fourteenth- and fifteenth-century parish church interiors.
  • 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, introduced by Knud Ottosen and containing segments on the ‘Introitus’, ‘Graduale-Alleluia’, ‘Offertory’ and ‘Communio’ (as featured on ‘Liturgical Fragments from Denmark’)
  • 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’
  • ‘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 (part 1part 2part 3) 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.


Reconstruction of a small rural church in the Middle Ages. Source: Stockholm, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, Gothic Hall.

lyddington_rails.jpg lyddington_cw.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.


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