Church of England parish church

The parish church of St. Lawrence at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England.
Combe Martin parish church (St. Peter ad Vincula), North Devon, England.

A parish church in the Church of England is the church which acts as the religious centre for the people within the smallest and most basic Church of England administrative region, the parish – since the 19th century called the ecclesiastical parish (outside meetings of the church) to avoid confusion with the civil parish which many towns and villages have.

Parishes in England

In England, there are parish churches for both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. References to a "parish church", without mention of a denomination, will, however, almost certainly be to those of the Church of England due to its status as the Established Church. This is generally true also for Wales, although the Church in Wales is dis-established.

The Church of England is made up of parishes, each one forming part of a diocese. Almost every part of England is within both a parish and a diocese (there are very few non-parochial areas and some parishes not in dioceses). These ecclesiastical parishes are often no longer the same as the civil parishes in local government. Larger towns and cities, even those with cathedrals, still have ecclesiastical parishes and parish churches.

Each parish is ministered to by a parish priest, usually called a vicar, rector or priest-in-charge. More rarely the parish priest is known as a "perpetual curate". In one instance only the priest is also, by historical custom, officially known as an "archpriest".[1] Each parish usually has one active parish church, though rarely and historically more than one; if there is no parish church, the bishop will usually license another building and may designate it as a Parish Centre of Worship.[2] A parish may also be served by a number of chapels of ease. Unused 'redundant' parish churches may exist in parishes formed by the merging of two or more parishes, or because of the cost of upkeep. These redundant churches may survive as ruins, remain empty, or be converted for alternative uses.[3]

12th-century priest's door and low window of the parish church at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire