Building on Church History: The Church in London
The Diocese of London Lambeth Palace Library King's College London The Open University

Newspapers and Periodicals

Print version [PDF 25KB]

How are they useful?

Newspapers and periodicals can be invaluable resources in a great variety of ways. They might, for example, contain a news story about a person or event; advertisements relating to churches, societies and organizations; letters from individuals or representatives of organizations; the obituary of an individual you are researching. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, newspapers and periodicals were starting to use photography in their articles, and you may find images of an individual or building that you’re researching. For our purposes, newspaper and periodical can be divided into three groups:


In the nineteenth century there were a large number of religious newspapers published at varying points. Anglican newspapers included the British Magazine [1832-1849], Christian Observer [1802-1877] and Ecclesiastical Gazette [1938-1900]. Many newspapers represented a particular ‘party’ point of view in the Church. For example, the Record and English Churchman were a strongly Evangelical Anglican newspapers, while the Guardian and Church Times reflected the interests of the High Church/’Ritualist’ groups within the Church.


Religious matters were often discussed at length in national newspapers. Given the prominence of its location, the Diocese of London was especially well covered in these publications.


London’s various districts usually had there own local newspaper. These can be an excellent source of local knowledge and information on particular churches, congregations and individuals.

Vanity Vair assessment of Bishop Tait

Newspapers and periodicals can provide a useful source for finding out about churchmen. This is an 1869 assessment of Archbishop Tait in Vanity Fair. He had previously been Bishop of London. (Image courtesy of the Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library).

Where can I find them?


The most likely places to find copies of religious newspapers are the British Library and Lambeth Palace Library. The British Library has a newspaper reading room at Colindale which holds an excellent range of religious publications. To search the contents of the library, use the newspaper catalogue subset . Please note that the British Library is currently in the process of moving many of its newspapers and periodicals to its main location at St Pancras. Lambeth Palace Library also holds an excellent range of religious titles. A good indication of the range of publications produced in the nineteenth century with a religious dimension can be found in Josef Altholz’s book The Religious Press in Britain, 1760-1900, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998.


A major development of recent years has been the digitization of many national newspapers and periodicals, making them available online by subscription or free of charge. The British Library’s ‘British Newspapers 1800-1900’ is an excellent source of nineteenth century publications. Additionally, The Times is now digitized and online.   


Some local newspapers have been digitized, with a few available through the British Library’s British Newspapers 1800-1900’ database. However, you will find that the main place to find local newspapers (either microfiche or hard copy) is in local libraries and archives.

background image