Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 September 2021
This chapter sets the social and ecclesiastical scene. It introduces the place of ecclesiastical law in the law of England. It explores the changing place of the Church of England in the life of the nation from the early nineteenth century, the role of the universities in educating future clergy and the significant place of the bishops in political as well as pastoral and spiritual leadership. It describes the need for more churches as the Industrial Revolution took a growing proportion of the population from the country into the towns. It introduces the challenge of the Dissenters with their rival chapels and the complexities of applying ecclesiastical law when there were controversies.