[Bell Historians] Minsters

David Bryant David.Bryant at Deffok4YGnZqS4jXS8Z0DVa5EWwPeuWX7D69DZjM2pLddQut4EW6kDAZB54M8MMH2kzKbrlaYl8nzIuLGJTmiHQ.yahoo.invalid
Fri Oct 10 16:39:03 BST 2008

"I know we have discussed the definition of a 'minster' in the past, but
why has there been a sudden proliferation of churches being designated
as "the minster church of ..."?   I notice on Campanophile that St
Mary's, Reading has become another church with delusions of grandeur!"

As you are doubtless aware, Richard, minster is a somewhat imprecise
word generally referring to an ancient missionary centre pre-dating the
parochial system. Unlike cathedral (principal church of a diocese and
location of the diocesan bishop's throne) or abbey (monastic
institution, present or former), there are no concrete attributes which
define a minster so the word was ripe for reuse, or misuse.

Presumably the modern-day CofE, in designating these pseudo-Minsters, is
trying to indicate that they are the new centres of missionary activity.
I confess I find it more than a little pretentious, and an indication
that the CofE recognises that it is in a long decline - why else would
it consider that it needs new missionary centres when in theory the
whole of England is already covered by its parishes?

And in practical terms, it doesn't seem to make any difference. The one
I pass most often is 'Doncaster Minster', cut off from its unpleasant
town by the main road and generally having an air of being very much on
the sidelines of life.


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