RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
LevelSeries
Alt Ref NoVG 3
Extent14 subsubseries
TitleVisitation of the Cathedral, and Diocese of Canterbury
Date1786-1935
DescriptionVisitation Articles and Returns
FindingAidsCatalogue records are based on modern parishes, rather than placing 19th century churches within their mother parish.
AdminHistoryThe practice of episcopal visitation developed in the medieval church as a means of correcting clerical and lay abuses. It became customary for a bishop to carry out a visitation of his own diocese during his first year of office and at intervals of every three to four years thereafter (although in the post-Reformation church the practice of triennial visitation was not consistently carried out). The 1604 canons confirmed this practice of episcopal visitation. During a visitation, clergy and churchwardens would be examined according to a set of articles of enquiry. Misdeamours presented would be dealt with by the bishop's officials, and often led to proceedings in the diocesan consistory court. However as the churchwardens' presentments became more formal and of less use to a bishop wishing to know the state of the church within his diocese, the practice was developed, first by William Wake (d 1737) as bishop of Lincoln, of circulating printed articles of enquiry addressed to local clergy to answer before a visitation. These visitation articles together with their answers, known as returns, were designed to furnish the bishop with an account of the state of every parish within his diocese.
The visitation articles were printed and each question or series of questions was followed by a space in which the cleric wrote his answer. The scope and number of questions varied from bishop to bishop, or even archbishop to archbishop, reflecting his preoccupations. Where an archbishop had previously drawn up a set of articles for his diocese, he normally adapted that for the archdiocese. Those for Archbishop Secker were substantially the same as those he had circulated as bishop of Oxford. His articles formed the basis of those of both Archbishops Moore and Manners Sutton. However, there was normally a standard core of questions concerning the extent of the parish, the residence or non-residence of the incumbent, the number of church services, the instruction of the youth in the articles of faith, and the prevalence of nonconformity or Roman Catholicism. But in the second half of the 19th century, A.C. Tait devised a lengthy and searching series of questions, totally over 37 major questions and subsidiary questions on almost every aspect of parochial affairs and administration, and circulated these with minor amendments both as bishop of London (1856-68) and later as archbishop (1868-1882). They continued to be used with slight modifications by his immediate successors at both London and Canterbury, Edward White Benson and Frederick Temple.
The visitation articles reflected changes in society at large, as well as the particular interests of the bishop or archbishop. In 1935 Lang questioned the clergy about the influence of the cinema and wireless and the extent of poverty and unemployment and housing, as well as requesting information on intemperance, gambling and sexual morality locally.
The archbishop visited his own diocese iure ordinario, and other dioceses within the province of Canterbury iure metropolitico. From the 13th century when the archbishop established his right to hold a metropolitical visitation of the province, it became customary for him to visit his own cathedral and diocese as a preliminary measure. Since the primary visitation of the diocese of Canterbury tended to be regarded as an integral part of the metropolitical visitations, the adjective `metropolitical' was applied to it to distinguish it from all the other ordinary visitations of the diocese of Canterbury. Until the 17th century, the metropolitical visitation of Canterbury was another way of describing the archbishop's primary visitation. However after the Restoration, the practice of making a metropolitical visitation of the province was not generally revived. The archbishop visited individual dioceses for particular reasons, such as prior to the proceedings against Bishop Watson of St. Asaph in 1697-1698 (VX/5/4). From this time the term `metropolitical' tended to be applied to all archiepiscopal visitations of the diocese. Even the commission to visit insisted that the archbishop was exercising his metropolitical right to visit.
Although there is a core of Kent parishes that stayed within the diocese of Canterbury, coverage of the visitation returns reflect changes in the composition of the diocese in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries relating to the abolition of the peculiar jurisdictions and rearrangements of diocesan boundaries.

See also online guide:
https://www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2021/06/Research-Guide-Visitation-Returns.pdf
CopiesAvailable on microfilm, 1786-1806 (VG 3/1a-2d): Lambeth Palace Library MS Film 46-53.

Copies of the microfilms may be available in other libraries.
RelatedMaterialDIOCESAN
A List of records in the Library relating to the visitations of the Cathedral and Diocese of Canterbury.
Visitation articles and injunctions in the archiepiscopal registers have been noted and unless otherwise stated, refer to the dean and chapter and not to the diocese.
Cranmer's metropolitical visitation, 1533. (The term `metropolitical' has been confined to these visitations which preceded or inaugurated a visitation of the province of Canterbury.)
(Religious houses included).
CM/II/55; XII/56.
Cranmer's visitation, 1541. (For visitation in 1550, see Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS.120/6.)
Visitation act book. VG/4/1.
Cardinal Pole's visitation, 1556.
Register, folios 19-21, 32-35v. (The visitation articles and injunctions are printed in Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the period of the Reformation, vol.II, edited by Walter Howard Frere.)
(Articles for diocese and dean and chapter).
Visitation act books. VG/4/2,3.
Parker's metropolitical visitation, 1560-1561. (See also Corpus Christi College MSS.120/8, and 122.)
Register, I, folios 224, 301-311. (The visitation articles and injunctions are printed in Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the period of the Reformation, vols. II, III, edited by Walter Howard Frere.)
(Articles for diocese and articles and returns for dean and chapter).
Visitation act book. VG/4/4
CM/VI/74; XIII/44.
Parker's visitation, 1569-1570.
Register, I, folios 276v, 279-284, 290. (The visitation articles and injunctions are printed in Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the period of the Reformation, vols. II, III, edited by Walter Howard Frere.)
Visitation act books. VG/4/5,6,7.
(Injunctions).
Parker's visitation, 1573-1574.
Register, II, folios 10-23. (The visitation articles and injunctions are printed in Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the period of the Reformation, vols. II, III, edited by Walter Howard Frere.)
(Return and injunctions).
Visitation act book. VG/4/8.
Grindal's metropolitical visitation, 1576-1577.
Register, I, folios 78-83.
Visitation of the diocese, sede vacante, 1583.
Register, II, folios 579-580.
Whitgift's visitation, 1589-1590.
Register, I, folios 248-276v passim.
(Articles for diocese).
Visitation act book. VG/4/9.
Bancroft's metropolitical visitation, 1607-1608.
Register, folios 222-227v.
(Injunctions).
Abbot's visitation, 1615.
Register, I, folios 264v-279 passim.
Visitation act book. VG/4/11.
Abbot's visitation, 1630.
Register, III, folios 91-95v.
Visitation act books. VG/4/12,13.
Laud's metropolitical visitation, 1633-1634.
Register, I, folios 77-82v.
(Articles).
Visitation act books. VG/4/14-22.
MS.943, pages 251, 401-402, 451-453.
Laud's visitation, 1636-1637.
Register, I, folios 181-185v.
(Articles).
MS.943, pages 275-276 passim.
Juxon's metropolitical visitation, [1662-1663].
There is a heading for the metropolitical visitation of the diocese of Canterbury in the register, but the section is confined to institutions and collations. There is no record of a commission to visit or of an inhibition of the jurisdiction of the archdeacon.
Register, I, folio 121.
Visitation act books. VG/4/23,24.
Sancroft's visitation, 1682. (Articles of visitation see Bodleian Library, Tanner MSS.124, 125.)
Visitation act book. VG/4/25.
Tenison's primary visitation, 1695.
Register, I, folios 166-168.
(Articles).
Sede vacante act book. VX/IIA/1/2, folios 110-119.
An account of the visitation. MS.954/61.
Tenison's visitation, 1706. (Visitation articles, 1702 (printed) see Printed Books H.5133.234/19.)
Register, I, folios 175-177v.
Tenison's visitation, 1712.
Register, II part 2, folios 332-337v.
(Articles).
Sede vacante act book. VX/IIA/1/2, folios 94-100.
Wake's primary visitation, 1716.
Register, I part 2, folios 404-411.
(Articles and return).
Lists of benefices, their value and incumbents prepared for the visitation. See Wake Papers.
Wake's visitation, 1719-1720.
Register, I part 2, folios 411-416v.
(Articles and return).
Lists of benefices, their value and incumbents prepared for the visitation. See Wake Papers.
Wake's visitation, 1724.
Register, I part 2, folios 416v-422v.
(Articles and return).
Wake's visitation, 1728.
Register, II part 2, folios 366-371v.
(Articles and return).
[For Wake visitations of the diocese of Canterbury, 1716, 1720, 1724, 1728, see Christ Church, Oxford, MSS 284-287; copies at Lambeth Palace Library MS Film 730-733.]
Potter's primary visitation, 1737.
Register, II, folios 435-439.
(Articles).
Potter's visitation, 1741.
Register, II, folios 439v-446.
(Articles and return).
Articles of inquiry for the diocese. See Potter Papers.
Potter's visitation, 1746.
Register, II, folios 446-452v.
(Articles and return).
Articles of inquiry for the diocese. See Potter Papers.
Herring's primary visitation, 1749.
Register, II, folios 455-464v.
(Articles and return).
Herring's visitation, 1753.
Register, II, folios 464v-472v.
(Articles and return).
Secker's primary visitation, 1758.
Register, II, folios 391-397v.
(Articles and return).
Visitation returns. MS.1134/1-4.
Visitation articles. See Secker Papers.
Secker's visitation, 1762.
Register, II, folios 398-406.
(Articles and return).
Papers concerning commission to visit. See Secker Papers.
Secker's visitation, 1766.
Register, II, folios 406-413.
(Articles and return).
Itinerary and list of confirmations. See Secker Papers.
Cornwallis' primary visitation, 1770.
Register, III, folios 513-520.
(Articles and return).
Cornwallis' visitation, 1774.
Register, III, folios 520v-527.
(Articles and return).
Cornwallis' visitation, 1778.
Register, III, folios 527-534.
(Articles and return).
Cornwallis' visitation, 1782.
Register, III, folios 534-541.
(Articles and return).
List of benefices and incumbents in the deaneries of Canterbury and Westbere, and itinerary. See Cornwallis Papers.
Moore's primary visitation, 1786.
Register, III, folios 700-706v.
(Articles and return).
Visitation returns. VG/3/1a-d
Accounts for expenditure during visitation and itinerary.
See Moore Papers.
Moore's visitation, 1790 (relaxed), 1791.
Register, III, folios 707-715v.
(Articles and return).
List of benefices and incumbents and curates, and letters concerning arrangements for confirmations. See Moore Papers.
Moore's visitation, 1795.
Register, III, folios 715v-722v.
(Articles and return).
List of benefices and incumbents arranged by deanery, and itinerary. See Moore Papers.
Moore's visitation, 1799 (relaxed), 1800.
Register, III, folios 722-731.
Manners Sutton's primary visitation, 1806.
Register, II, folios 249-256.
(Articles and return).
Visitation returns. VG/3/2a-d
Manners Sutton's visitation, 1810.
Register, II, folios 256-262v.
(Articles and return).
Manners Sutton's visitation, 1814 (relaxed), 1815.
Register, II, folios 262v-270.
(Articles and return).
Manners Sutton's visitation, 1819.
Register, II, folios 270-276.
(Articles and return).
Manners Sutton's visitation, 1823.
Register, II, folios 270-281v.
(Articles and return).
Diocesan survey. VG/2/8
Manners Sutton's visitation, 1827.
Register, II, folios 282-286v.
(Articles and return).
Howley's primary visitation, 1831 (relaxed), 1832.
Register, II, folios 1079-1086.
(Articles and return).
Howley's visitation, 1836.
Register, II, folios 1086-1091v.
(Articles and return).
Diocesan survey. VG/2/8
Howley's visitation, 1840.
Register, II, folios 1092-1095.
Howley's visitation, 1844.
Register, II, folios 1095-1101.
(Articles and return).
Sumner's primary visitation, 1849.
Register, II, pages 878-891.
(Articles and return).
Sumner's visitation, 1853.
Register, II, pages 891-899.
Sumner's visitation, 1857.
Register, II, pages 900-907.
Longley's primary visitation, 1864.
Register, pages 278-286.
Visitation returns. VG/3/3a-G
Longley's visitation, 1868.
Register, pages 286-293.
Tait's primary visitation, 1872.
Register, II, pages 939-947.
Visitation returns. VG/3/4a-d
Letters concerning visitation. See Tait Papers, 184, folios 220-243.
Tait's visitation, 1876.
Register, II, pages 948-958.
Visitation returns. VG/3/5a-c
Tait's visitation, 1880.
Register, II, pages 958-969.
Visitation returns. VG/3/6a-c
Papers concerning visitation charge. See Tait Papers.
Benson's primary visitation, 1885.
Register, IV, pages 1522-1534.
Visitation returns and churchwardens' presentments. VG/3/7a-c
Letters concerning the visitation. See Benson Papers.
Benson's visitation, 1889.
Register, IV, pages 1534-1544.
Visitation returns and churchwardens' presentments. VG/3/8a-c
Letters concerning the visitation. See Benson Papers.
Benson's visitation, 1893.
Register, IV, pages 1545-1556.
Visitation returns and churchwardens' presentments. VG/3/9a-c
Letters concerning the visitation. See Benson Papers.
Temple's primary visitation, 1898.
Register, pages 749-760.
Visitation returns. VG/3/10a-c
Churchwardens' presentments and papers concerning the charge. See Temple Papers, 16, folios 274-422; 17, folios 1-100.
Temple's visitation, 1902.
Register, pages 760-772.
Visitation returns and churchwardens' presentments. VG/3/11a-c.
Papers concerning the returns. See Temple Papers, 56, folios 340-344.
Davidson's primary visitation, 1907-1908.
Register, I, folios 224v-228.
Visitation returns. VG/3/12a-c.
Davidson's visitation, 1912.
Visitation returns. VG/3/13a-c.
Papers concerning visitation. See Davidson Papers.
Lang's visitation, 1935.
Visitation returns, VG/3/14a-c.
CANTERBURY PECULIARS
Visitation returns are MS 1115, MS 1134, VH 55.
DIOCESE OF LONDON
Visitation returns are in the Fulham Papers.
PublnNoteUsed in:
John Charles Bennett, "The English Anglican Practice Of Pew-Renting, 1800-1960": a thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (2011). Copy available online at http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/2864/1/Bennett_11_PhD.pdf

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NA2929Diocese of Canterbury
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