Faith in the Town: Lay Religion, Urbanisation and Industrialisation in England, 1740-1830

Hannah Barker (Professor of British History, The University of Manchester), Jeremy Gregory (Professor of the History of Christianity, University of Nottingham), Kate Gibson (The University of Manchester)

Joseph van Aken, 'Saying Grace' (c. 1720)
Joseph van Aken, 'Saying Grace' (c. 1720), Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The project examines the role of religion in the daily lives and outlooks of men, women and children living in urban areas in the North of England between 1740 and 1830. It challenges the interpretation that urbanisation and industrialisation were secularising influences, and demonstrates the continued importance of piety to individuals' understandings of family, business, identity, and the urban and domestic space around them.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and runs from December 2018 to December 2021. The project brings together researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham and will examine the wealth of documents and material objects held at the John Rylands Library, as well as archives and libraries across the North of England.  More information about the project can be found on our blog:

Teaching and learning materials

We have produced some teaching and learning materials using the amazing primary sources that we have found during the project. These resources are designed for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils, arranged around seven lessons. Each lesson contains background notes and ideas for teachers, and resources for pupils which include images and documents left behind by ordinary people, including children.

The themes covered in the resources are broad and flexible, and work with subject areas in RE, History (including local study) and Geography. To access the free resources please register below. You will then be directed to a download page.