by Revds. J. Redvers Harris and D.J. Sherwood

What we are seeking to do is to give what is, in effect, a short book criticism aimed primarily at those involved in Parish Ministry so that each of you can have access to the absolutely basic books that you need for reference. We have also paid attention to the cost of these books, as many a Church Treasurer will rightly question the need for some of the more unusual books to be acquired.

Every Diocese issues its own regulations so make sure you have a copy of those regulations, a copy of which may be obtained from the Diocesan office usually free of charge. The other free publications are: Suggestions for the guidance of the Clergy with regard to the marriage and registration acts, etc. and Anglican Marriage in England and Wales, as well as The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 Code of Practice and Guidance. If you are in the Diocese of London it is advisable to have a copy of the London Plan, again free.

We have adopted the approach of those who write on wine and offer bottles at under a certain figure. Having dealt with the freebies we move onto those books which are priced under £10 approximately. Of these an essential is Briden and Hanson Moore’s Introduction to English Canon Law, The Church representation rules, if you have a Church Yard The Churchyards Handbook and the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure Code of Practice.

There are a number of books relating to the conduct of the Annual Meeting and other matters relating to the PCC. Of these we would recommend MacMorran and Briden A Handbook for Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councillors and Pitchford An ABC for the PCC. I would also recommend Balfour Whose Church is it anyway? Most of this will be of interest only for Evangelicals but it has useful parts relating to the appointment of a new incumbent. Absolutely essential for everyone is The Canons of the Church of England and Legal Opinions concerning the Church of England.

In the section under £20 would come Dale the Law of the Parish Church. We cannot recall any occasion when we have found something in Dale (hat is not also in Briden and Hanson. An apparently attractively priced book called Liturgy Order and the Law by Rupert Bursell, Fr. Jonathan’s Diocesan Chancellor, which we do not recommend due to its somewhat verbose style and obsessive footnotes.

In the over £20 section we commend Doe The Legal Framework of the Church of England as an excellent book if you are really interested in Canon Law, but it does cost £60. Both of us are thanked in the preface. We are also given acknowledgement in Doe Essays in Canon Law, a Study of the Law of the Church in Wales but again would not recommend this as it is not essentially a practical book and, of course, does not apply to the Church of England.

We do not recommend Newsom and Newsom Faculty Jurisdiction of the Church of England nor Rees Ecclesiastical Conveyancing, the principles and procedures simply because they are too specialised.

At the very top end of the market are Leeder Ecclesiastical Law Handbook and Hill Ecclesiastical Law. Leeder is an excellent reference book but is sometimes thin on quoting chapter and verse so that if you wished to quote a particular section of a Measure, for example you would not always find it in this book which costs £55. At nearly double that price Hill is an excellent book with all the texts set out, although in the first edition we did note a number of errors. Mark Hill is currently working on the second edition which we imagine will be published later this year or possibly next. The first edition costs c.£90 and the second edition may well be even more expensive. These are not books needed by the average Parish Priest.

If you have no books at all for an outlay of, say, well under £50 you could acquire a number of very useful books and if you doubled that figure you would probably be able to get as many as you would really need.