: Subscribing to Faith? The Anglican Parish Magazine 1859–1929.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; pp. xi + 278.
The period of time covered by Jane Platt’s lively and engaging examination of the
Anglican parish magazine (1859–1929) was a golden age for printed forms of com-
munication, not only of books and other monographs but newspapers, newsletters,
and magazines too. Long before the internet and the advent of social media, before
the medium of television, and the invention and then widespread use of the telephone,
the printed word was the primary vehicle for disseminating news and information.
This was a fact not lost at all on the Anglican clergy of the day, who saw in the hum-
ble parish magazine a way of not only making the work and ministry of the local
church known but of reaching into the homes, and hopefully the lives, of those in the
geographical area of the parish who graced the pews often, occasionally, or not at all.
Thus, the visiting vicar, clutching a copy of his church’s parish magazine, was a com-
mon sight at front doors across the villages and towns of the time. Within the pages
of the parish magazine were not only church service times, lists of baptisms, wed-
dings, and funerals but advertisements for local businesses and services and articles
of general interest, as well as edicts on social and other causes of interest to the
church and its clergy (and it was hoped, the parishioners and readers too). Also in
plentiful supply was what the author describes as “attractive light reading.”
It is not known just how many parishes published something by way of a regular
magazine, newsletter, or bulletin intended for wide distribution, but the comprehen-
sive research contained within this volume demonstrates that the numbers involved
were vast. Probably most parishes had a publication of some kind during the years in
question. Despite the widespread use of the medium, and the riches it holds as a win-
dow into the world of the time, there is very little serious research on the subject.
Indeed, the author points out that Owen Chadwick, in his magisterial two-volume his-
tory of the Victorian church, dedicates just a few sentences to religious periodicals.
Jane Platt has rectiﬁed this with what is an eminently well-researched and comprehen-
sive study of the matter, presented in a lively and engaging way. The ease with which
it can be read at times glosses over the depth of the scholarship. Additionally, the vol-
ume is illustrated with well-chosen pictures capturing the essence of the parish maga-
zines referred to in the text, supplemented with plentiful excerpts of prose and poetry
from a variety of publications, giving a vivid sample of what the readers of the day
This volume is not just about those who produced the parish magazines and why;
neither is it conﬁned to an examination of the content of the various publications as
important as both are to the study. It is also essentially about the men and women
© 2018 Religious History Association
Journal of Religious History
Vol. 42, No. 1, March 2018