Web Sites of Interest
The UK Church Directory
[and other related sites]
This site provides a reference source for the churches in the UK. It is organised in geographical squares and for each square lists all the churches, of various denominations, contained therein. The aim is to have a web page, with information and a picture of each - but at present few of the churches I looked at had this information.
In using this for genealogical purposes - for instance to make contact with the current establishment - it is important to realise some of the limitations. With this in mind I had a good look at the churches in Hertfordshire around Tring to see how well it works.
The first thing to note is that the map does not mark the location of the churches and the use of fixed squares, and the selection of place name used, causes some funnies. For instance St Cross, Wilstone is listed on the same page as Tring but the village name Wilstone occurs on the adjacent map which contains Aylesbury. St Mary the Virgin, Drayton Beauchamp, (just over the border in Bucks) must be very close to the boundary of the map - and the name Drayton Beauchamp does not occur on either. New Mill Baptist Church is listed under Tring - and not under New Mill. (As New Mill is just part of Tring it surely does not need separate listing). Bulbourne (which consists of a couple of dozen houses, a canal workshop and a garden centre) is listed (with no church) despite the fact that it does not occur on the map. Tringford, which is not much more than a farm, a ordinary sized house, and a reservoir, is also listed and not marked on the map.
The various churches which are run by the Tring Team are listed under the relevant villages - except that I suspect that the "St Mary, Tring," is actually a duplication of St Mary, Puttenham, on the Aylesbury page. St Martha is listed as "C of E" but is actually used jointly with the Methodists.
Clearly there are problems with the way the data interacts with the maps, but the site does provide a quick check list of existing churches and as such is worth including here. It will become far more useful when information is added about other churches - especially where they include links to the church web sites where these include church histories. For instance I found a link to the web site of the Independent Chapel, Spicer Street, St Albans which includes a valuable illustrated history for anyone whose ancestors were associated with the chapel.
The Church of England has a site which links to a search facility which will give the name and some additional information about current parish churches. In some cases all it gives is the name of the church - for instance for Wheathamstead you merely get the diocese and additional information that dedication of the parish church is St Helens. If you look for Tring you get a list which includes place names which include the string "tring" and the following:
Internet Test Church [??? apparently a test site with a lot of information and a link to an invalid page on the web site of a company which is no longer based in Tring]
St Martha - in parish of St Peter & St Paul - Status Local Ecumenical Partnership - Type Mission Church
St Peter & St Paul - Parish Church
St Leonards Parish Church [Reasonably full entry, but in a different county and diocese - but has a Tring post code]
Other churches in the modern Tring Parish, such as St Cross, Wilstone, and St John the Baptist, Aldbury, are listed individually
The Church of England Net Directory "gives contact information, such as names, addresses, phones numbers, e-mail addresses and web site addresses for UK-based religious organisations. It is not an official publication of The Church of England." It has links to many other web sites.
The problem seems to be that most sites have very basic information - plus information submitted by the church itself - which in most cases is missing.
Many Hertfordshire Churches are on the Hertfordshire Church Photographs web site. In addition one can often find extensive information about a parish church simply by typing the name of the parish and the word "church" into a good general purpose search engine. such as www.google.co.uk or the new one at www.bbc.co.uk