Religion in Ashworthy 1958-2011: A sociology classic revisited

Steve Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In A West Country Village: Ashworthy W. M. Williams described the religious life of rural West Devon in the late 1950s. This research updates that study. Data on various indices of Anglican and Methodist involvement show the disappearance of communal conformity, but also increased commitment from the smaller core of committed members. The changed status of the clergy and of the churches is discussed as is their continuing public roles. In a cautionary note, the paper argues that public respect for the secondary functions of the churches should not be mistaken for some widespread ‘believing without belonging’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalRural Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

From 2007 to 2009 I was in receipt of a senior research fellowship from the
Leverhulme Trust. I am grateful to the Trust and to the University of Aberdeen for
supporting my work and to John Peek, Stuart Wilson, Phillip Wagstaffe and Ruth Hanford, and the staff of the Devon Record Office, the North Devon Record
Office and the Diocese of Exeter for their generous assistance.


  • Anglican Church
  • Methodist Church
  • community
  • church adherence


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