Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Religion General

A History of the Church through its Buildings

by (author) Allan Doig

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2020
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2020
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The History of the Church through its Buildings takes the reader to meet people who lived through momentous religious changes in the very spaces where the story of the Church took shape. Buildings are about people, the people who conceived, designed, financed, and used them. Their stories become embedded in the very fabric itself, and as the fabric is changed through time in response to changing use, relationships, and beliefs, the architecture becomes the standing history of passing waves of humanity.

This process takes on special significance in churches, where the arrangement of the space places members of the community in relationship with one another for the performance of the church's rites and ceremonies. Moreover, architectural forms and building materials can be used to establish relationships with other buildings in other places and other times. Coordinated systems of signs, symbols, and images proclaim beliefs and doctrine, and in a wider sense carry extended narratives of the people and their faith.

Looking at the history of the church through its buildings allows us to establish a tangible connection to the lives of the people involved in some of the key moments and movements that shaped that history, and perhaps even a degree of intimacy with them. Standing in the same place where the worshippers of the past preached and taught, or in a space they built as a memorial, touching the stone they placed, or marking their final resting-place, holding a keepsake they treasured or seeing a relic they venerated, probably comes as close to a shared experience with these people as it is possible to come. Perhaps for a fleeting moment at such times their faces may come more clearly into focus.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Allan Doig read Architecture at King's College, Cambridge, where he also completed a PhD. After a number of years as a university lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Kent, Canterbury, he was ordained, and during his curacy at St Helen's in Abingdon was responsible for the restoration of the fourteenth-century painted ceiling in the Lady Chapel there. From his curacy he took up the Chaplaincy of Lady Margaret Hall in the University of Oxford and was elected to a Fellowship in 1996. He has served on the Oxford Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches, the Council for the Care of Churches, English Heritage's Places of Worship Advisory Committee, and the Fabric Advisory Committees of Salisbury and Ely Cathedrals, and he has also published many books and articles on the history of church architecture. He is a Fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society.