The Society emerged from conversations between Michael Farrer and Brent Skelly in the late 1990s. Both were aware that there was increasing interest by historians in the field, but that few publication outlets were available. They wondered whether there might be a way of making some of the fruits of research available to the wider public, and of stimulating additional interest amongst both scholars and the serious minded layperson. They came to the view that a society might provide such a function.

The idea was floated with Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, formerly fellow of Keble College and the author of The Vision Glorious—a wide ranging study of the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism. He was supportive of the idea and became our first President, followed in 2020 by Bishop Rowan Williams. Bishop Rowell also enlisted the Revd Dr Perry Butler, author of Gladstone, Church, State and Tractarianism and editor of Pusey Rediscovered, as Chairman.

By June 2000 the Society was ready to be launched and the inaugural lecture was delivered by Bishop Rowell at St Mary’s Bourne Street. Membership increased rapidly, largely by word of mouth. By the tenth anniversary of the Society, some thirty lectures had been given, and eleven substantial monographs produced.

In January 2020 Bishop Williams gave his inaugural lecture (number 65 on our Lectures page), and the Society celebrated its twentieth year with a book of essays, Twenty Preists for Twenty Years (featured on our Books page).