|Title: English Church
Author: Nicholas Orme
Date published: 1996
Status: in print
Price: GBP 11.99
What is it? A study of English church dedications from Roman times to the present day.
What's it like? Dedications were not necessarily to a single Saint, however. Most of the evidence about them consists of late, casual allusions in which naming one Saint may have been enough for convenience. In the few cases where we have documents associated with the act of dedication, we find three patrons at St Olave Exeter (1063), four at St martin Exeter (1065) and four at St Buryan in Cornwall (1238).
What's good about it? A ground-breaking work by the author of the best-selling Medieval Children. It explores how medieval churches may have got their dedications, and challenges long-held assumptions about these origins, noting in passing that many modern dedications are not the medieval ones; indeed, the very meaning of a church dedication has changed since the Middle Ages. Revisionist history of the best kind in that it is rigorous, and firmly based on evidence. This is a book which changes your perspective, since it is probably something you have never thought about before.
What's bad about it? The bulk of Orme's evidence is taken from churches in Devon and Cornwall, and may not apply equally elsewhere. Also, it is published by the University of Exeter Press, which can make it rather hard to track down.
Overall rating: 4/5