Interest in the history of the English Church has been steadily increasing of late years, since the great importance of the Church as a factor in the development of the national life and character from the earliest times has come to be more fully and clearly recognised. But side by side with this increase of interest in the history of our Church, the want has been felt of a more complete presentment of it than has hitherto been attempted. Certain portions, indeed, have been written with a fulness and accuracy that leave nothing to be desired; but many others have been dealt with, if at all, only in manuals and text-books which are generally dull by reason of excessive compression, or in sketches which, however brilliant and suggestive, are not histories. What seemed to be wanted was a continuous and adequate history in volumes of a moderate size and price, based upon a careful study of original authorities and the best ancient and modern writers. On the other hand, the mass of material which research has now placed at the disposal of the scholar seemed to render it improbable that any one would venture to undertake such a history single-handed, or that, if he did, he would live to complete it.