Stuart Bell

Stuart Bell

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: The influence of World War One on popular faith
Supervisor: Dr Michael Snape
PhD Modern History


B.Sc. Computer Science, University of Manchester, 1976

M.A. Theological and Religious Studies, Univeristy of Cambridge, 1990

M.Th. Applied Theology, University of Oxford, 2007.


Stuart Bell is a minister of the Methodist Church, currently serving as the superintendent minister of the Nottingham (Trent Valley) circuit. After studying computer science at Manchester University, in the era of punched cards and paper tape, he taught that subject for seven years at Plymouth College of Further Education. Training for ordained ministry at Wesley House and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge was followed by appointments in Brighton, Horsham and Southampton.

While in Southampton, he completed a part-time MTh in Applied Theology at Oxford, his dissertation examining the influence of the First World War on the Anglican Modernists. 

Doctoral research

PhD title The influence of World War One on popular faith


The thesis will examine the influence that the First World War had on the faith of the practising Christians of England, and in particular on their understanding of God. It will place evidence about and analysis of the responses of the typical worshipper or local clergyman in the context of national debate and episcopal utterance, but the primary focus is the local experience. It will examine the conflict’s impact on ideas of divine omnipotence, divine impassibility and Providence.

The geographical focus is the Diocese of Southwell as it was from 1884 to 1927, comprising the counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and the churches (both Anglican and non-conformist) in that area. Evidence from the largely urban Diocese of Birmingham will also be evaluated and compared with that from Southwell.

Primary sources discussed include clergy letters and activities reported in church magazines, liturgies and orders for special services, and supplementary hymns, hymn collections and sermons published both nationally and locally. A lay preacher’s diary from Nottingham offers one personal perspective. Material from other protestant Churches is set alongside the Anglican sources and similarities and differences will be identified.


  • ‘”Soldiers of Christ arise”: Religious Nationalism in the East Midlands during World War I’ in the journal Midland History. (Vol 39, number 2, Autumn 2014)
  • ‘Collapsing Class Barriers – another Myth of the Trenches?’ in Crucible: The Christian Journal of Social Ethics.(Apr-Jun 2014)
  • The Church of England’: entry in the International Encyclopedia of the First World War:
  • Malign or Maligned? – Arthur Winnington-Ingram, Bishop of London, in the First World War’. Journal for the History of Modern Theology / Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte, Vol. 20, issue 1 (Nov. 2013).
  • ‘The Theology of Woodbine Willie in Context’ in Snape and Madigan (eds), The Clergy in Khaki: British Army Chaplains in the First World War, Ashgate, 2013. Ashgate, 2013.
  • ‘The First World War’ in Parker and Lawson (eds), God And War: The Church of England and Armed Conflict in the Twentieth Century, Ashgate, 2012.
  • ‘“Patriotism and Sacrifice”: The Preaching of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (“Woodbine Willie”), 1914-1918’, in Lyons and Sandwell (eds), Delivering the Word: Preaching and Exegesis in the Western Christian Tradition, Equinox, 2012.
  • Reviews in Journal of Anglican Studies, Journal of Beliefs and Values, Reviews in History at the Institute for Historical Research and the Methodist Recorder.