Stephen Bates

Cross Talk

That Was the Church, That Was: How the Church of England

By Andrew Brown & Linda Woodhead

Bloomsbury 255pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Sometime in the late 1960s, Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, an eccentric but saintly figure, was asked by journalists over lunch whether he thought the Church of England would survive into the next century. Doubtless beetling his copious eyebrows, he replied, ‘Well, you know, that is not certain, not certain, not certain at all. Not certain. It might easily, easily, it might easily, quite easily, just fall away after twenty years or so. Just fall away.’

Fifty years on and here we are. It is still there but the Church of England has never seemed more battered. Riven by poisonous and prolonged internal feuds over the positions first of women in its pulpits and then of gays in its presbyteries, it has appeared increasingly irrelevant to the wider society it is meant to serve as the nation’s established church. While supposedly open to all, it has almost gone out of its way to seem unwelcoming to many. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,
    • If you're at , starting tomorrow, there are free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees. Grab while stocks last!,
    • Weekend read 1: 'The fiery meteor that was Victor Grayson', as presented in David Clark's biography ,
    • We’re offering the chance to win a copy of I Am Not Your Negro. You can find all the information in our newsletter: ,
    • Stephen Bates reviews Richard Ingrams's biography of Ludovic Kennedy ,
    • RT : Pls enjoy my interview about the Bad Sex Awards w @Lit_Review-"My body was her gearstick" & "his bulbous salutation" ,