The Kendal Project Lancaster University Home Page
Department of Religious Studies, Furness College, Lancaster University LA1 4YG.

Research Opportunities for A Level Students

Professor Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead,
Department of Religious Studies
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YG

This web page is for A level students who might be interested in carrying out course work along the lines of Kendal Project research. If you are interested in doing this, you should first read an article by Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead. Called ‘The Kendal Project: Testing the “Spiritual Revolution” Thesis’, it appears in the November 2003 issue of Sociology Review (Volume 13, Number 2, pp. 18-21 ). [For further details of this and other useful publications, see 'Publications for A Level Students'.]

For your research, you could concentrate either on churches and chapels – the ‘congregational domain’ as we call it – or on New Age activities – the ‘holistic milieu’. Whatever your choice, you will have to:

(a) Find a relatively self-contained locality to study, for example: a smallish town like Kendal (population 28,000); a large village (or a cluster of villages); a suburb; or an inner city district. Not too big and not too small!

(b) Find out the population of the locality you have decided upon. (You could look this up on the Office of National Statistics web site - )

(c) Consult with your teacher before you undertake the research to make sure that you are following ethical and safety guidelines.

(d) Work with other students. (It is possible to carry out the count of holistic activities on your own, but the headcount of congregational attenders can only be carried out by a team.)

Whether it be the congregational domain or the holistic milieu of your locality, the aim of the research is to arrive at findings which can be compared with what we found in Kendal. You could then reflect on why your findings are similar to results from Kendal – or different! You might also want to reflect on other issues raised by your findings – to do with gender and age, for example.

The following details show what you will need to find out.


Researching the Congregational Domain

(i) How many churches and chapels are there in the locality you have selected? (Kendal finding: 23.)

(ii) How many people go to the churches and chapels (Kendal finding: 2175 people went to church and chapel on Sunday the 26th of November, 2000, amounting to 7.9% of the total population.)

(iii) How many are women? (Kendal finding: 60%.)

(iv) What is the age profile? (Kendal finding: 83% adults, 5% adolescents, 12% children.)

See Appendix (A) for further details.


Researching the Holistic Milieu

(i) How many holistic (mind, body and spirit) activities are there in the locality you have selected? (Kendal finding: 128.)

(ii) How many participants are there? (Kendal finding: 640, that is 1.7% of the total population of Kendal and environs.)

(iii) How many are women? (Kendal finding: 80%.)

(iv) What is the age profile? (Kendal finding: 80% middle aged, with virtually nobody under the age of 25.)

See Appendix (B) for further details.


If you would like to submit your results for possible inclusion on the web page, please send to Paul Heelas (email only – ).

To be effective, the information must be presented as follows:

· The locality you have studied
· The population of the locality
· A list of the names of the congregational or holistic activities you have studied
· Your findings – in the above sequence
· Your name/s
· Name and address of your school/college
· The name of your supervising teacher

Whether you decide to study the congregational domain or the holistic milieu, our experience in Kendal shows that participants are as interested in finding out what is happening to religion and spirituality in contemporary Britain as you are yourself.

Good luck with your studies!

Paul and Linda

Please note that although the figures we have provided from the Kendal Project are broadly accurate, they will not appear in finalized form until the publication of our book.

Appendix (A): Researching the Congregational Domain of Kendal

You might find it useful to draw on the following list of activities which we undertook in Kendal:

- Selecting a ‘typical’ Sunday to carry out the count (we avoided the summer holidays, Easter Sunday, Whitsun, Christmas, etc.).

- Identifying all the churches and chapels in Kendal and finding out the times of all the services (early morning, mid-morning, afternoon and evening).

- Contacting clergy or a person in responsibility to get their agreement to participate in the count. (We did not give them date of count). Establishing the number of entrances to the church or chapel, and, when more than one service, whether people ever attended more than one service.

- Informing clergy (or a person responsible) during the week before the count that it would be happening ‘this Sunday’.

- Explaining the count sheet to student assistants, in particular the distinction between adult / adolescent / child (child = primary school, together with babies/infants; adolescent = high school; adult = university age or above). Stressed that clergy, choir, servers etc. must be included in the count.

- Tackling the ‘double counting’ issue (At every second or third service in the day you need to ask people as they enter church whether they have attended the earlier service. If so, do not include them in your total Sunday figure. That way you will not be double or treble counting. If you cannot do this you will need to ask a congregational leader or ‘greeter’ for his or her estimate of how many people at a second or third service were there earlier in the day.)






Put any additional notes, comments, problems encountered etc. on the back of the sheet.

Count sheet for congregational domain


















Appendix (B): Researching the Holistic Milieu of Kendal

An idea of the kind of detective work which is involved in studying holistic (mind-body-spirituality) or ‘New Age’ activities of a particular locality can be gleaned from the following passage from a book which will be published by Blackwell during 2004:

The ‘mapping’ exercise was not a light task. For whereas the congregations of Kendal generally meet in clearly identifiable buildings, associational activities beyond church and chapel are often considerably more difficult to locate. Groups (for instance tai chi) or one-to-one encounters (for instance aromatherapy) often take place in rented rooms and halls, private houses, or are tucked away in places like Kendal College. Accordingly the mapping involved a considerable amount of detective work. Visits were made to cafes, shops, other public places such as the Kendal College, the Town Hall, the Library, Leisure and Tourist Information centres, and specialized centres for holistic healing and spirituality like Rainbow Cottage, to look for flyers and cards advertising anything of spiritual or spiritual-cum-religious significance. These adverts varied widely from minimal, handwritten details (‘Elaine, Shiatsu and Reiki, phone …’) to professionally produced posters or leaflets. Notice-boards, local newspapers (free and sold), more specialized regional publications such as the North West listings magazine Cahoots and the Cumbria Green Handbook, national New Age and holistic health magazines like Kindred Spirit, Caduceus and Body and Soul, as well as the Cumbria Yellow Pages, were all checked for material. And at the same time visits were made to groups and centres, in order to get to know people who could direct us to other practitioners, many of whom who did not advertise.

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