For many today the Church stands picturesquely in the background of modern life, but its time-honoured place has always been firmly in the foreground; it has been intimately woven into the unfolding fabric of English society and culture for one and a half thousand years.
This may be largely lost to view, but the legacy is everywhere.
The people ideally placed to bring this past to life - what it stood for, what it achieved, as well as the upheavals it has caused - are those whose first-hand stories speak directly to us.
This anthology has assembled a crowd of witnesses, starting from Christianity's rugged, pioneering times when its role in the shaping of England was so influential, continuing through the great flowerings of enlightenment and times of turbulence, right up to this present, less certain age.
These are the voices of saints and sinners, dignitaries and dissidents, shrewd observers and ordinary parishioners.