In this book, Peaston challenges the common assumption that the Prayer Book is the exclusive possession of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, and researches its adoption in the Free Churches of England. Peaston acknowledges the Catholic revisions of the Prayer Book since its establishment during the reign of Elizabeth I, but concentrates predominantly on the Protestant revisions which ultimately heralded the way for much liturgical revision in the Free Churches. He also focuses upon the development of liturgical worship in those communions which were generally regarded as belonging to the strict Protestant tradition.
Peaston explores how the Prayer Book found a new home amongst Methodists, Moravians, Congregationalists, and Swedenborgians, as well as several others. He explores its traditional importance to them, and its modern relevance. Free Churchmen may have left the Establishment with or without regret, but the cadences of Cranmer and ancient Anglican piety have lingered in unforgotten memory amongst Nonconformists.
In his Foreword the late Professor E.C. Ratcliff comments that: “It is no exaggeration to say that Peaston has completed the extra-Anglican history of the Prayer Book. In so doing, he has made a notable contribution to the history of English religion.”