Ancient British Church

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Cover of "The Ecclesiastical Antiquities of The Cymry or Ancient British Church its History, Doctrine and Rites"

The Ancient British Church was a British religious movement founded by Jules Ferrette (Mar Julius) and Richard Williams Morgan (Mar Pelagius).[1]


Morgan was given the full title Mar Pelagius I, Hierarch of Caerleon-on-Usk by Mar Julius in Oxfordshire in 1858. He is said to have conditionally "baptised, confirmed, ordained and consecrated" Pelagius the "first Patriarch" of the Church.[1]

Pelagius and Julius planned the movement as an attempt to restore a form of Christianity in Britain that they called Neo-Celtic Christianity.[2] They claimed that it existed in a hybrid, druidic form prior to the entry of Augustine of Canterbury and the Synod of Whitby. Pelagius hoped to establish a "tradition in Britain as part of a world-wide Orthodox Movement which would eventually lead to the reunion of Christendom".[1]

Notable works[edit]

The extensive publications of John Williams (Ab Ithel),[1] Iolo Morganwg,[3] Julius and Pelagius influenced the founding of the movement.[2] Notable works include Saint Paul in Britain and The British Kymry or Britons of Cambria by Mar Pelagius and The Ecclesiastical Antiquities of The Cymry or Ancient British Church its History, Doctrine and Rites (cover with a sword and crossed keys pictured) by Ab Ithel.[1][2]

Vicar John Pryce refuted the arguments for an early entry of Christianity in an essay written shortly before the death of Pelagius.[1]


The Church continued after his death, described as having "always remained rather shadowy, rather an idea than a community". It was thought that "the idea, no matter how shadowy was to survive."[1]

Charles Isaac Stevens (1835-1917), a former presbyter of the Reformed Episcopal Church was consecrated as successor to Pelagius, taking the title 'Mar Theophilus I' in 1879.[4] Stevens in turn consecrated an Armenian Vardapet called Leon Chechemian who became 'Mar Leon'.[2] The Ancient British Church continued in the form of a lone, kind-hearted, renegade Anglican deacon called Herbert James Monzani Heard. Monzani was consecrated Archbishop of Selsey in 1922 and maintained the Ancient British Church until his death in 1947.[2]

Monzani was succeeded by Jonathan Vartan Zotique (born Thomas William Brennand on 21 March 1946 in Toronto, Ontario). Zotique was consecrated Mar Zitikos and formed a small Ancient British Church in North America (The Autocephalous Glastonbury Rite in Diaspora). The line of succession also continued at least into the late 1950s in Britain under Dorian A. F. Herbert of Newport, Wales who was the head of the offshoot Ancient British Church (Agnostic).[5] Succession from Morgan's Ancient British Church is also found in the Free Protestant Episcopal Church (now The Anglican Free Communion).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Professor Joanne Pearson (27 June 2007). Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, Sex and Magic. Taylor & Francis. pp. 166–. ISBN 978-0-415-25413-7. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Günther H. Thomann (2001). A Short Biography of the Reverend Richard Williams Morgan (c.: 1815-1889), the Welsh Poet and Re-founder of the Ancient British Church: An Enquiry Into the Origins of Neo-Celtic Christianity, Together with a Reprint of Several Works by Richard Williams Morgan and Jules Ferrette, Etc. St. Ephrem's Inst. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Marion Löffler (2007). The literary and historical legacy of Iolo Morganwg, 1826-1926. University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-7083-2113-3. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  4. ^ The Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume V04, Page 585, 1911.
  5. ^ James R. Lewis (2002). The encyclopedia of cults, sects, and new religions. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-888-5. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Anglican Free Communion: History". The Anglican Free Communion. Retrieved 20 April 2013.