Exploring the past through objects: religious faith during the industrial revolution

Professor Hannah Barker

painted creamware mug made circa 1750-70
This is a past event
Date and time
25 January 2023
6.30 pm
£10.00 (non-members)


What can books, embroideries and ceramics tell us about religious faith during the industrial revolution?

Professor Hannah Barker’s talk will explore the religious faith of ordinary people in northern English towns, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Many descriptive accounts of domestic devotion survive in diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and commonplace books. A variety of non-textual sources in the collections of museums and galleries also shed light on religious practice and belief.

Domestic objects such as needlework samplers, annotated books, printed pictures, and a variety of ceramics including figures, teapots, and plaques, are rich sources for the study of domestic piety. Their existence supports the contention that religious belief continued to be widespread and influential during this period which is often associated with the decline of faith.

Even if you are not interested in religion, most people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were. To tell their stories and understand the world in which they lived, we also need to explore their faith.

Image reproduced with permission of National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery. Decorative Art Collection, 54.171.473, painted creamware mug, c. 1750-70.

professor hannah barker

Professor Hannah Barker

Hannah Barker is Professor of British History at the University of Manchester and Director of the John Rylands Research Institute. Her research focuses on the late Georgian period and the early industrial revolution in Britain, and on the north of England in particular.

Her most recent monograph, Family and Business During the Industrial Revolution (2017) won the Social History Society Book of the Year for 2019.

Hannah is chair of Manchester Histories, a charity based at the University of Manchester which works with people and groups in the Greater Manchester area on history and heritage projects.

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