Religious Life in Hook Norton
From late Anglo-Saxon times England had a single Christian faith that followed the belief and practice of the Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome. In this parish, that religion centred on St Peter’s Parish Church, which was the focus of communal life through the Middle Ages. After Henry VIII’s break with Rome in the 1530s and the subsequent Protestant Reformation, the character of belief and practice changed but the parish church’s absolute centrality remained until the upheavals of the Great Civil War a century later.
Thereafter the Anglican Church’s predominance was challenged by a series of dissenting sects that insisted on holding their own services and building their own meeting places. These various denominations thrived in Hook Norton from the mid-seventeenth into the twentieth century, even though they were long discriminated against and the Anglican Church retained its privileged position.
This section on religious life is therefore itself divided into two minor sections. The first follows St Peter’s as the Hook Norton home of the official Established Church, first through its Catholic period in the Middle Ages and then into its Anglican supremacy from the 1530s to, nominally, the present day. The second deals with the seven Other Faiths that have appeared and flourished in the parish since 1640. Their enriching presence has been both a testimony to the village’s openness and a cause of its variety and vitality.
© Donald Ratcliffe