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In 1858 the clergy of Craven archdeaconry were asked to provide written answers to a series of questions relating to themselves, their parishes, their churches and their congregations, as part of the visitation process of bishop Robert Bickersteth, newly appointed bishop of Ripon. At this point the archdeaconry of Craven was undergoing extensive industrialisation of an increasingly urban nature: mill towns like Skipton, Keighley, Hebden Bridge and Holmfirth in the west; expanding industrial and commercial towns in the east, centred on Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds. This edition of the visitation returns given an opportunity of examining in detail the activities of the Church in this challenging area. The visitation are introduced by Professor Edward Royle, who draws out the themes, looking at the nature of the parishes and districts, the clergy who served them, the progress of church building, the congregations and services, sacraments and confirmation, schools and the catechism and the relative strength of Church and dissent.
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