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A QUESTION OF CULTURE: THE WELSH CHURCH AND THE BISHOPRIC OF ST ASAPH, 1870 IN the last thirty years of the nineteenth century, the Church in Wales experienced a remarkable revival. At the time of the 1851 religious census, the Church had seemed to be in severe decline, as only one- fifth of those attending divine workship did so under its auspices. 1 The extent of its minority encouraged the opponents of Anglicanism in Wales to press for disestablishment, a demand that became more vociferous after the disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1869. Yet, contrary to expectation, the Church in Wales began to grow again, the threat of disestablishment arguably lending an urgency to its operations that had hitherto been lacking. From the 1860s2 and, more strongly, from the 1870s,3 all indices of Church performance, such as the number of people being baptized, confirmed and taking communion, experienced a steep and sustained rise in the principality.4 A battery of apologists and polemicists-their presence alone some sign of a new vitality in Welsh Church affairs-trumpeted the Anglican achievement in innumerable articles and pamphlets, while the archbishop of Canterbury celebrated its performance at the Church Congress at Rhyl 1 W. Thomas's three-part analysis of the 1828 Bishops' Visitation returns in Jl. of the HisuSoc. of the Church in Wales are an essential starting-point: 'The diocese of St David's in the nineteenth century: The unreformed Church', pt.1, 21 (1971); pt.2, 22 (1972); pt.3, 23 (1973). See E. T. Davies, Religion and Society in the Nineteenth Century (Uandybie, 1981), pp. 47-65. For a contemporary view, nothing surpasses W. Connybeare, 'The Church of England in the mountains', Edinburgh Review, XCVn (April 1853), 343-79. 2 See Quarterly Review, 128 (1870), 386-410. 3 M. Cragoe, An Anglican Aristocracy: The Moral Economy of the Landed Estate in Carmarthenshire, 1832-95 (Oxford, 1996), pp. 191-246, for St David's diocese. 4 G. H. F. Nye, A Popular Story of the Church in Wales (London, 1893), pp.28, 36-7; and see Bishop of St Asaph, A Handbook of Church Defence (London, 1895); Cragoe, An Anglican Aristocracy, pp. 228-36.