[Bell Historians] Peculiars

John Camp camp at KJWRKZHrFk_8Xir_Iv2-av6OT6S0xt5loFx4nd_mxlmyT2gPaozaV233dv88_rdP6q-nuSAcutnUxA.yahoo.invalid
Tue Jan 9 14:32:46 GMT 2007

At 18:17 on 27 December 2006, I wrote:

> I can't help thinking that there is some misinformation being produced
> about peculiars.

> However, I will not have access to the definitive article on the subject
> in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal until next week.

I now have the article (Ecclesiastical Law Journal no. 16, Winter
1995, page 299) and have also spoken to its author, Paul Barber, who is
a friend from former years.

I have to say that some of the misinformation produced came from me.
Battle, Bocking and Stamford are not peculiars, though each has a dean.
Their peculiar jurisdiction was abolished by orders made under the
legislation I referred to. The other thing I may have got wrong is
whether the Inner Temple is a royal peculiar. It may not be a peculiar
at all, but, if it is, it is a royal one.

Paul has said that I may put the article on a website and I will do so,
when I have time.  It is quite dense and does require some knowledge of
ecclesiastical law.  I will try to set out the most important features.


It is important to remember that what is 'peculiar' is the
jurisdiction, not the place. Since the Reformation, most ecclesiastical
jurisdictions in England have been territorial, so peculiars are often
wrongly thought of as places.

Every peculiar is different.

The method of classification adopted in the article is according to the
identity of the ecclesiastical 'visitor' of the peculiar. On this basis,
a distinction can be made between (1) episcopal peculiars; (2)
extra-diocesan, or archiepiscopal, peculiars; and (3) extra-provincial,
or royal, peculiars.

Most peculiars were abolished by orders-in-council made under the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners Acts 1836 and 1850.

The article contains a provisional list of existing peculiar
jurisdictions in England as at 1994. The list is sub-divided into
'definite' and 'possible'. Among the peculiars designated as 'definite'
are the following:

Royal peculiars:

The obvious ones (Westminster Abbey*, the Chapel Royal, St George's
Chapel, Windsor**, and royal residences).
*could include St Mary Maldon
**could include Shalborne

New College, Oxford***, and King's and Trinity Colleges, Cambridge.
***could include Hornchurch

Archiepiscopal peculiars:

Canterbury Cathedral.
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (not the colleges)

Episcopal peculiars, which comprise most cathedrals (including Christ
Church, Oxford).

Then there's a list of 'possible' peculiars:

Royal peculiars:

Most other older Oxford and Cambridge colleges (including Merton).
The Temple
The Tower of London
Precinct of St Katherine
Chapelry of St John the Baptist in the Savoy
Great Canford and Poole
Sturminster Marshall
Corfe Castle

Archiepiscopal peculiars:

York Minster
Hadleigh, St Barnabas

Episcopal peculiars:

Lambeth Palace
A few other Oxford and Cambridge colleges (including Magdalen and
Ripon and Manchester Cathedrals
Temple Sowerby


No mention, I'm afraid, of nearly all the places cited in earlier
correspondence as being peculiars. Paul Barber said to me: "I still
occasionally get queries referred to me, but usually they are along the
lines of: 'my parish is a peculiar because it is strange / unusual' and
I have to disappoint the poor enquirer and point out this has nothing to
do with jurisdiction.

Sadly, two members of the Ecclesiastical Law Society's working-party on
peculiars died, and it has not gone on to refine the very interesting
work already done.

I hope that someone will be able to work out the answer to Alan
Buswell's question about peculiars with bells, which started this thread
going. As far as Oxford is concerned, Christ Church, New College,
Merton, Magdalen and Lincoln are all (probably) peculiars with bells
(subject, of course, to the proviso that a peculiar isn't a place).

John Camp


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