'In telling the story of the Church and its people in Colchester, a garrison town, Robert Beaken enlivens our understanding of the First World War - not only as a clash of mighty forces, but also at a personal and communal level.'The Very Rev. Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster
The Church of England is popularly believed to have had a bad First World War. This book challenges that tired orthodoxy. It examines the relationship between parish churches and the Army during the war, using the important garrison town of Colchester as a case study. Colchester in 1914-18 was a microcosm both of English society and of the Church of England, in all their diversity. The presence of the Army also meant that wartime experiences and trends which were noticeable elsewhere in England were sharply felt in Colchester.
For the generation of Britons who lived through the Great War, Christianity was an important part of their culture, world view and, in many instances, personal lives. To understand life on the home front during the war, it is vital to understand the part played by Christianity, and particularly by the parishes of the Church of England. With the help of newly discovered archival material, this book reassesses the relations between clergy, soldiers and civilians to show that, contrary to widely-held belief, the clergy and their parishioners responded to the crisis of 1914-18 with courage, common sense and self-sacrifice: their ministry kept much of the population going during the Great War.
ROBERT BEAKEN is parish priest of St Mary the Virgin, Great Bardfield,and St Katharine, Little Bardfield, in Essex. He holds a PhD from King's College, London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of seven works, including Cosmo Lang: Archbishop in War and Crisis(2012).