Following the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars and faced with the rapid expansion of industrial towns and cities the Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) was set up in 1818 to help keep England holy.
Gill Hedley's book, 'Free Seats for All' is the first to tell the full story of the ICBS and is based on extensive research and access to the the ICBS's archive.
With a rapidly growing population, in the early decades of the 19th century there was a severe shortage of churches. In some parts of London there were barely enough places in parish churches for one in nine of the population. And many people in the Church of England feared the rise of nonconformity and competition from Methodism.
In the 19th Century, the ICBS was responsible for the building and enlargement of many hundreds of Anglican churches and chapels.
In addition the ICBS provided thousands of new pews in parish churches, the majority of them free for anyone to occupy, in contrast to the then customary provision of private pews.
2018 saw the bicentenary of the Incorporated Church Building Society, whose work is continued today by the National Churches Trust. With a message of support from our Vice Patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and a foreword by our Vice President Bettany Hughes, this book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the history of churches.
In 2019 we are delighted to offer the book at a specially discounted price of just £9.99.