In the first chapter the area under review is, first of all, looked at as it was at the beginning of the period, in terms of the various aspects and issues later to he given expanded treatment in the body of the dissertation. (They include, the ecclesiastical divisions, with their places of worship and rota of services, the clerical, personnel, their stipends, and places of residence. Al comparison is instituted between the state of anglicanism and that of dissent within the area.
With the Rhondda valleys on the threshold of industrial change, a diocesan background is then sketched to indicate what trend of development, and improvement had issued from the experience of the past and how it had a bearing on the future, with an emphasis on the Church of England's lack of realism vis a vis dissent and the Welsh language. An attempt follows to outline the pattern of education obtaining both in the day and Sunday schools, with the aid, particularly, of the Report and: tables produced by the Commissioners of 1846-47.
In the chapters that follow the argument is sustained throughout that the, almost sole, agents of the Church's response to the cataclysmic change that overtook the area, as initiators, enablers, and maintainers, were the incumbents of the benefices.
In the second chapter, the inoumbents are portrayed attending to the need, to which they give the highest priority, of providing new places of worship, but, with what financial aid was available to them being dragooned within their benefices by demands arising out of mushrooming communities, so that their projects generally amounted to being financial leaps- in the dark. (The difference that a generous benefactor made is illustrated chiefly through an examination of the cooperation that developed between the church builder par excellence« William Lewis of Ystradyfodwg, and the outstanding lay benefactress Krs. M. G. Llewellyn of Baglan Hall. The study in building is then extended to parsonage houses.
In the third chapter, the incumbents themselves are sorutinised in their roles of pastoral- superintendents, both for their «alibre (personal and academic) and as seen within the clerical environment of the period, with an emphasis on their financial circumstances, bringing out the primacy that had been assumed in this sphere by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Their involvement with a body of assistant clergy (whose existence is also viewed from various aspects), is described, as also with a much smaller contingent of lay-helpers, particularly lay readers. It is shown how their tackling of bilingualism, at all times a complicating faotor, bore results in more Welsh churches, services, and clergy. The effects of new developments are noted, such as those of Tractarianism on church architecture, oenduot of services, and on some of the younger olergy, adding up to an accession of 'brightness' in church, welcomed as a contrast to a great deal that was drab in the daily life of the community. Christian social concern, however, because of the rift that had widened, for a variety of reasons, between angjicanism and nonconformity since the beginning of the period, could not be implemented on a broad combined basis. When, towards the end of -the century, the miner turned towards secular organisations to alleviate hie physical plight, the Incumbents, following the bishops' lead, chose unspectacular pastoral work in their parishes as their mods of achieving their ends, although admitting into their parishes men with new missionary approaches. The nonconformists also are shown to have adopted a comparable working principle.
The fourth chapter treats of the mew Districts by the creation of which the incumbents of the original parishes had been able to reduoe their tasks to reasonable proportions. In them the same tasks in the spheres of building, manpower, cure of souls, had to be faced by a new generation of Inoumbents. Their endeavours, and achievements, are described and analysed, to elicits a governing consideration that the later in the periocL some of the problems had. to he tackled the more difficult the solution became.
The core of the last chapter is the incumbents' 50 years' long incursion into the field of day-school primary education, which was virtually brought to an end by the 1870 Education Act, combined with am overwhelming upsurge of a militant nonconformist interest in this sphere. Valiant attempts to keep some of the schools alive because of the place of religious teaching in the ourrieulum, distinguishing them from the Board' Schools, are instanced, illustrating -the persistence of a loyalty to the principles underlying the Churoh sohools' approach, to teaching. The incumbents persevered industriously with their Sunday Schools, although they differed so essentially from the nonconformist schools, and were so eclipsed by them in importance within -the community, only through the personal influence of individual Churchmen, foremost among them being William Lewis of Tstradyfodwg, did the Church in the Rhondda, on loeal and diocesan levels, continue to be effective within the sphere of the day schools.