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Discover the History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland in this online talk by award-winning writer Peter Stanford via Zoom
A unique history of Christianity in the British Isles, told through its sacred buildings – from ancient, wooden churches to lofty cathedrals
Christianity has been central to the lives of the people of Britain and Ireland for almost 2,000 years. It has given us laws, customs, traditions and national characteristics. From a persecuted minority in Roman Britannia through the ‘golden age’ of Anglo-Saxon monasticism, the devastating impact of the Vikings, the alliance of church and state after the Norman Conquest to the turmoil of the Reformation that saw the English monarch replace the Pope and the Puritan Commonwealth replace the king, it is a tangled, tumultuous story of faith and achievement, division and bloodshed.
In If These Stones Could Talk Peter Stanford journeys through England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to churches, abbeys, chapels and cathedrals, grand and humble, ruined and thriving, ancient and modern, to chronicle how a religion that began in the Middle East came to define our past and shape our present. In exploring the stories of these buildings that are still so much a part of the landscape, the details of their design, the treasured objects that are housed within them, the people who once stood in their pulpits and those who sat in their pews, he builds century by century the narrative of what Christianity has meant to the nations of the British Isles, how it is reflected in the relationship between rulers and ruled, and the sense it gives about who we are and how we live with each other.
The UK's parish churches, chapels, cathedrals, convents, abbeys and monasteries, spanning 1600 years, are a spectacularly rich but often overlooked heritage. Many are visited for their architectural and aesthetic qualities – they make up 45% of all Grade 1 listed buildings in the country – but rarely is the deeper historical story that they tell explored and joined up into a single narrative in our sceptical, secular times.
Peter Stanford is an award-winning British writer, journalist and broadcaster, best known for his biographies and books on the history, theology and cultural significance of religious ideas.
Peter Stanford's previous investigations into the history, theology, and the enduring appeal and cultural significance of religious ideas include Angels: A History; Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident; Judas: The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle and The Devil - A Biography.
His other books include biographies of Bronwen Astor, Lord Longford and the Poet Laureate, C Day-Lewis, plus the polemical Catholics and Sex that became an award-winning Channel 4 series.
He is a feature writer at the Daily and Sunday Telegraph titles, and contributes to the Observer and the Catholic weekly, the Tablet, where he is a columnist.
He has presented programmes on BBC 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as BBC Radios 2 and 4 and the BBC World Service.