Books on Hertfordshire

Religion in Hertfordshire 1847-1851

Edited by Judith Burg

Hertfordshire Record Society

Published 1995 (ISBN 0 9523779 0 X)

This book reprints two major surveys, together with information on their background, and a comparison between them. Both surveys look at each parish in Hertfordshire, an provide information on the religious activities there.

Statistics of the Religious Condition of the County of Hertfordshire was collected for the use of the Herts Union by William Upton, St Albans, one of the Secretaries of that Society, in the Years 1847 and 1848: with many subsequent corrections and additions. For each parish it identifies the churches and chapels (with information on the minister, services and character. The is also information on schools, local societies for moral improvement, and general observations. The later can be quire revealing. For Sandridge it says:

Much good has been done here by the Herts Union. There is a pleasing group of pious people here, but the inhabitants generally are ignorant and depraved. A small chapel is much needed here. With it the congregation might probably be doubled.

For Tring it lists 8 places of worship (including 4 Baptist), 2 schools and 5 Sunday schools. It includes the following observations:

Local Societies etc for Moral Improvement

Lending Libraries at all the Sunday Schools, but not much used. Great numbers of the adults , as well as of the children cannot read. There is a Bible Society and a Temperance Society - but all is feeble.

General Observations

This place painfully illustrates the paralyzing influence of Ultra Sentiment. The different bodies of Christian professors are controversial, captious and disunited. Sunday School teaching seems lamentably deficient in character. The public religious taste is perverted. Illiteracy and Ignorance prevail. The was a British School but it has been allowed to expire. An Infant School followed it which seems likely to share a similar fate.

Long Marston is irreligious and immoral as might be expected from the general apathy of the neighbourhood.

The Ecclesiastical Census of 1851 was a government organised census, carried out at the same time as the general census, of places of worship and contains detailed information on each. Together with the Upton survey they provide a valuable snapshot of religious life in Hertfordshire in the mid-19th century.

There is a web page for Religion in Hertfordshire

Locating Books
This is one of the more popular, and hence hard to find, books in the Hertfordshire Record Society series.


Page updated May 2005