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The Shap Archive

Shap - who were we?

Shap is not an acronym, it is the name of a village in Cumbria. In the spring of 1969 a conference on ‘Comparative Religion in Education’ was held at a hotel in Shap. Arising out of that conference came the decision by the participants to set-up a working party to campaign for and support the development of teaching about the World’s Religions in schools and other educational settings.

Few of the participants of that 1969 conference are still with us. But over the years new colleagues have been invited to join the working party such that it has always maintained about 35 active members, each invited to join in an individual capacity and asked to continue the work started by the founders. The next few paragraphs give a brief summary of some of our major activities, the links will take you to more details.

Shap members produced, in different formats, an annual calendar detailing the festival dates of many world religions. Ours was the first such calendar, and although it now has many rivals we firmly believe that ours is still the best. Each year our dedicated and expert team corresponds with around 25 different religious organisations to ensure the accuracy of the calendar

Shap produced for many years an annual Journal, much-loved and widely read by those professionally involved in the fields of religious studies and religious education. The back catalogue of the Journal provides a rich resource for those seeking information on a wide range of topics about religions in the modern world.

The Shap advisory service offered free information about all aspects of religion. If you do not find an answer to your question in the previous questions section, then people submitted question to us (submit new question) and one or more of our members provided answers.

Details of the last Shap working party can be found at this link

The most recent innovation is the audio glossary, which offers you not only a definition of many of the words that crop up in the study of religions, but also the opportunity to hear the word pronounced by a speaker from the relevant religious tradition.

Details of the archival holdings
The archive from the final Shap meeting - the Shap Jubilee event held in Shap, April 11th-12th, 2019 can be found here

A. Access to the archive

The Bodleian Library in the centre of Oxford is, as you might expect, very well organised when it comes to taking care of archives of all kinds and making them accessible to researchers. It has special areas for confidential material and for personal detail lists. Researchers are brought the materials in a special research room as required and by prior arrangement. As well as the archives of the Shap working party, those of the British Assocation for the Study of Religions (BASR) which began in 1959 are lodged there and each will be added to annually with the minutes of meetings and details of publications, conferences etc.. for that year.

Anyone who is interested in researching the history and work of Shap and its place within the educational history at large should write to the Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford OX1 3BG giving full professional details, the project they are researching and the times that they can be in Oxford.

The email address is

Other relevant contacts:

Who's Who in Special Collections:

B. Bringing the archive together

In November 2004 we were pleased to be able to hand over the first instalment of materials about the activity of the Shap Working Party for safe keeping - and cataloguing - in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Those archive materials covered a period of 35 years; they point to the significant contribution made to RE and RS in Britain by the Working Party's members during that time. It was our intention to add to the archive as more of the older materials were contributed and new ones became available. This has now been done.

The second instalment of materials has been handed over in 2018 - and in advance of Shap's Jubilee celebration. We believe the final collection of materials will be an important source for anyone who wishes seriously to research the history of RE; it will also be important for those who research the biographies and work of some of its more illustrious members!

Here we wish simply to alert readers to some of the key areas the archive covers. In addition to the named areas below the archive contains two overview pieces 'A Brief History of Shap' (to 2004) by Mary Hayward (also on the website) and an undated piece, added in 2018, called 'Unknown Shap' by Ursula King.

C. The range of materials

We gathered the initial collection of materials together under a number of broad headings - and in 2004 handed over some 70 plus folders. (See list already circulated, dated November 2004). In 2018 there are a further 5 large boxes of materials; each box will have on the top a very detailed list of contents; lists of all we have placed with the Bodleian will also be handed over separately.

Here we draw attention to key areas covered in the Shap Archive as a whole, but it is important to note that these may change if the materials are further sorted and catalogued by staff at the Bodleian.

1. Foundation and early documents / activities

This proved one of the most interesting sections of the archive to gather and sort! It includes, for example, a range of papers and correspondence from 1969 and the early 1970s, the period of Shap's formation; materials about Shap 'sub-groups' which operated in different parts of the country; early booklists on different religious traditions - it is hard to recapture the excitement now of actually discovering new books and compiling such lists - and especially of finding items for use in school! There are also copies of BJRE, then 'Learning for Living' (January 1972; May and September 1973 and BJRE Summer 1981) to which Shap contributed a news page, but also took on whole issues.

2. Files of agendas, minutes and related papers

The initial deposit covered the years 1982 - 2003 and more recent papers have been added in 2018. Shap customarily updated its list of members annually, and we collected some lists which go back to an earlier period than some of the minutes. The Bodleian will not of course release papers with addresses of members - observing a 50 year ruling on this - so we provided lists of members just by name (and institution where possible) for the earlier years.

3. The 'Shap mailing' and World Religions in Education

Shap's annual publication started as 'Shap News' in the early 1970s comprising news of festivals (as a supplement) and offering embryonic examples of teaching 'world religions' and resource lists. By 1976 this became known as 'Shap Mailing' - comprising a Journal and Festivals Calendar - although it was the Journal (till the final one of 2009 which was electronic only) which continued to carry the title of 'Shap Mailing' until it was re-named World Religions in Education (WRIE) in 1986. The 2004 section of the archive holds the 'Mailing' from 1976 - 1985, and WRIE from 1986 to 2004. A December 1971 copy of Shap News was added in 2018 as well as copies of WRIE from 2005-2009.

4. Shap Calendar of religious festivals

Here we have 3 Supplements of festival dates and then almost a complete collection of Calendars from 1973 through to the present though if anyone has a copy of the Calendar for 1978/79 we should be delighted to have it donated to the archive. There are wall charts only for 2013/14 and 15/16. 2004 marked the launch of the Shap Pictorial Calendar and this is also represented in the archive to 2011. Later materials online can be accessed on this website.

5. Publications

One of Shap's early ventures was to produce a Handbook for teachers - a mine of useful articles and resource lists for teachers newly venturing into the field of 'world religions'. 1972 marked the first publication of a Handbook; a second appeared in 1976 and went through several editions and a third in 1987. Each of these was published by CRE (or its predecessor); in 1993 Heinemann published a new handbook Teaching World Religions edited by members of Shap. The Handbooks provide insight not only into teaching, but into the resources available to teachers for their own study and that of their pupils.

The popularity of the calendar of festivals led Shap to produce the book Festivals in World Religions, its first edition published by Longman; a later edition (1988) in a new format, ed. Peter Woodward and published by RMEP/ Canterbury Press has now been added to the archive. Shap marked its 20th Anniversary in 1989 with a Conference and from this came a book of papers edited by Brian Gates: Freedom and Authority in Religion and in Religious Education published by Cassell. Religions and Education: Shap Working Party 1969-1989 edited by Angela Wood - drew on articles from earlier journals; a German edition of this was later produced.

Two further books, added in 2018, date from the early years of Shap. The first, Comparative Religion in Education edited by John Hinnells, rose out of the conference which has come to mark the beginning of Shap in 1969 and the second out of one of its early conferences at the Shap Wells Hotel, Hinduism edited by John Hinnells & Eric J.Sharpe.

6. Conference flyers, programmes and reports

There are simply too many conferences to list here by topic - Shap held its earliest conferences at Shap Wells Hotel in the Lake District in 1969 and others at that venue which date from 1970-1977; Southern Shap at (Goldsmiths College, London (1972, 1975 and 1976); Manchester (1974) ; South Coast (later); Chichester, 75; 81; 82; 88; 89 and 93. York Shap papers exist in full from 1983 through to 1991 - with conference publications for most of those years. Other venues represented in the archive include Oxford and Lancaster (North West Shap) 77; 78; 79; 80; 84; also The Anniversary Shap Conference of 1989.

7. Chichester Project on Teaching Christianity in Secondary Schools

This project was an offshoot of Shap and sought to address specifically ways in which Christianity might be addressed in secondary schools - it published 10 books for schools and a book for teachers. Later two handbooks for primary teachers were published by Longman - these addressed world religions in the primary school. Many of the Chichester Project books are available in the archive and the archive has a rich collection of documents relating to the project's consultations and resources, as well as explorations of possible video project.

8. European Association for World Religions in Education

The material in this area, added in 2018, is now extensive and was donated by Brian Gates. It moves from a German Shap conference in 1985 to papers and some photographs relating to meetings, discussions and publications from 2002 through to 2009.

9. Financial and Legal Papers

These include the Memorandum and Articles of Association and full audited accounts to 2010 and financial reports for 2011 to 2016.

10. Computer printouts of documents

These provide material which sometimes overlaps with the original hardcopy collection outlined above, but also includes material drawn from the website.

D. Areas of Shap's activity under represented in the archive

Among these the work of the Scottish Working Party on World Religions and North West Primary Group immediately come to mind. We had some materials for the first in 2004 and hoped more would come, but nothing has materialised to date. For the latter we had a dearth of material - if there are teachers, especially in Liverpool, Chester and Manchester, who recall working with Vida Barnett and producing packs of materials - we would still welcome any materials that may be out there. Shap educational tours abroad which were led by Peter Woodward and Vida Barnett are also not represented in the archive at present.

Dr Mary HAYWARD and Peggy MORGAN
Spring 2018

Additions to the Shap Archive: Collection 1: April 2018

The materials listed here and in 'Collection 2' supplement those already archived in 2004 Sections A - D below comprise original documents; section E is distinct in consisting mainly of computer printouts of documents

Section A

1. SHAP NEWS / WORLD RELIGIONS IN EDUCATION (WRIE) Shap News was the forerunner of the 'Shap Mailing' which became WRIE

a) December 1971 SHAP NEWS

b) WRIE:

  • 2005/6 Reflecting on Learning and Teaching
  • 2006/7 Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • 2007/8 Diversity & Distinctiveness
  • 2008/9 The Environment

2. a) CALENDAR: booklets including printed wall charts

  • 2005/06
  • 2006/07
  • 2007/08
  • 2008/09 (& with A5 card calendar)
  • 2009/10
  • 2010/11

2. b) CALENDAR: wall charts only

  • 2013/14
  • 2015/16


  • 2006: Sacred Places
  • 2007: Symbol
  • 2008: Diversity and Distinctiveness
  • 2009: Environment
  • 2010: Food, Faith and Community
  • 2011: No main theme

4. Publicity flyer for the Working Party. Undated. (Mid 1980s?)

Section B

1. Miscellaneous

  • Correspondence relating to Journal:
    • Letter from Prof Hans Kung
    • Letter from Prof John Bowker
    • Letter from Rt Revd Dr David E Jenkins
    • Retirement letter from Ian Evans, Rockwell Design, 2005, who produced the Journal for 7 years
  • Journal related items:
    • Planning and publicity for special issue of the 2007 Journal to mark the bicentanary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, 1807.
    • Shap Award: publicity and resource from 2007 winner of the Award: Child's Eye Media
    • Box of floppy discs linked to annual production of Journal

2. Folder of Shap Conferences attended (by MH) - programmes and occasional notes:

  • Shap Wells Conferences
    • 1970: Hinduism
    • 1972: Buddhism
    • 1973: Christianity
    • 1974: An Introduction to Myth
    • 1976: Ritual in Religion
    • 1977: Prejudice & toleration in religion
  • University of Manchester Extra Mural Studies & Shap Working Party
    • 1974: Religion and Art
  • South Coast Shap (later 'Southern Shap')
    • 1981: Shabbat Shalom
    • 1982: Sikhism
    • 1989: Exploring Christianity through story, ritual and symbol
    • 1993: Religions in the experience of children and young people
  • Southern Shap (Goldsmiths College)
    • 1972: Hinduism

3. Shap bibliographies

Project begun by Shap in late 1990s to produce bibliographies relating to each 'principal' religious tradition. This was not completed/ taken forwar though the first bibliographies (12) were developed and distributed in 1969 and incorporated into World Religions - Aids for Teachers 1972 CRC.

4. The Chichester Project

  • Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of John Rankin, 19 November 2016 & tribute(s)
  • Chichester Project (Teaching Christianity in Secondary Schools)
    • Proposals for publication ( yellow pp.)1978
    • Consultations 1983 - 1987, including 2 papers by Peter Doble (fork RE Centre) on Christianity & GCSE and also a letter re the launch of the second phase of the Project
    • Unadopted text 'Christians in the world of religions' by Robin Protheroe
    • Letter to Lutterworth Press 1978
    • Resources for teaching Christianity ( Westhill RE Centre) . Undated, probably late 1970s
    • Resource list on Christianity prepared for Chichester Project by Peter Doble & Mary Hayward ( fork RE Centre). 3 copies in different formats.
    • List of resources for Christianity 1981-82 for Chichester Project prepared by Jean Fearnbank
    • Materials available from the Churches : an exploration. Mary Hayward, January 1984 (Findings from a small project to discover resources ( if any) available from Churches in England & Wales in which they gave a self account)
    • Consultations 1978 - 1979
    • Index of Chichester Project papers at 14.02.1979 (exclud. consultations & correspondence)
    • Additional index of papers at 30.07.1980
    • Consultations 1980 - 1981
    • The Chichester Project Report. (Undated but after Consultation 18)
    • Evaluation of existing material for the Teaching of Christianity by Alan Jones. (Undated but Probably late 1970s
  • Chichester Project Primary Phase
    • Initial paper - and accompanying pages identifying topics in Agreed Syllabuses.
    • Brown, Rankin & Hayward RE Topics for the Primary School Longman

5. Chichester Video Project

  • Folder of preparatory and exploratory papers. Ultimately this project did not prove to be financially possible

Section C: Books

The following books listed as unavailable in 2004 have now been added; first two arose from Shap conferences:

  • Comparative Religion in Education (Oriel Press)
  • Hinduism (Oriel Press)
  • Festivals in World Religions (RMEP edition)

Section D: Documents and financial papers held by Treasurer

1. Book - Register of Members 1974-1981.

2. Minute Book 1977-2008. Some of the minutes are loose and not in the book.

3. Copies of the Audited accounts: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008. These are bound and signed.

4. A Memorandum of Association (2 copies)

5. Envelopes containing receipts, claims, bank statements: generally material sent to the Auditor for the annual audit.

  • Envelope X 2001/2
  • Envelope A 2001
  • Envelope B 2002
  • Envelope C 2003
  • Envelope D 2004
  • Envelope E 2005/6
  • Envelope F 2007
  • Envelope G 2008/9
  • Envelope H 2010

Section E (See earlier note)

Working party documents

1. Shap documents already in the Archive
2. Shap documents ready to be added to the archive
3. Correspondence with the Bodleian Library relating to the Shap Archive
4. Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education Ltd.
5. Shap Minutes, Agendas, Financial Reports, etc. 2001- 2016
6. Shap: A brief history by Mary Hayward( from Shap website) (2 copies) & piece 'Unknown Shap' by Ursula King
7. The Shap Glossary of Religious Terminology for voice recording
8. Shap members' correspondence 9. Various Papers:

a) Lists of Shap Members
b) The Shap Award
c) The Shap Journal
d) & e) The Shap Advisory Service and the Shap Website
f) Shap: the Future
g) Shap and RE
h) Assorted documents

Calendar Documents

10. Calendar of Religious Festivals: A treasury of diversity
11. Shap Calendar Editorials 1972 to 2016
12. Shap Calendar Booklet 2016-2017
13. Shap Calendar PDFs 2009-2017
14. Shap Calendar Wall charts 2012/3 to 2016/7
15. Various papers:

a) Shap Freebie January 2016 - Abbreviated booklet text
b) Calendar pages 2014
c) Pages from Pictorial Calendars
d) Order forms, invoices etc
e) Calendar related documents
f) Calendrical correspondence

Additions to the Shap Archive: Collection 2: April 2018

The materials listed here and in 'Collection 1' supplement those archived in 2004

Shap Archive Material from Prof Brian E Gates

A. Conference related materials

(a) Early lists/ correspondence:

  • Correspondence with Donald Butler dated 1 June 1975 re forthcoming conferences
  • Projected courses of the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education (overview of courses for period Sept 1975 to April 1977); list signed by Brian Gates 5.08.75. ( Brian was Shap's Conference Officer at the time)
  • List of conferences for 1976 - 77 (orange flier)
  • Letter from the Senior Education Officer of the Commonwealth Institute to Brian Gates re collaboration on In service course. Dated 1.09.76
  • Correspondence with the Commonwealth Institute and the Society of Friends ( Social Responsibility Council et al) re East West Exhibition related talks/ lectures 1976/77
  • Item related to related World Congress of Faiths and Extra Mural Studies University of London 1976/77
  • General letter from Edward Hulmes to Brian Gates, (ref to Shap northern activities). April 1984

(b) Programmes, publicity, etc relating to the following conferences:

  • Shap Wells: March 1975: Chinese Religions
  • Shap Wells: March 1976: Ritual in Religion
  • Shap Wells: March 1977: Prejudice and Tolerance in Religion
  • Southern Shap (at Goldsmiths's College): April 1972: Hinduism (Flyer)
  • Southern Shap (at Goldsmith's College): April 1975: Violence & Non Violence in Religion ( programme and BEG notes)
  • Southern Shap (at Goldsmiths' College): March 1976: Islam
  • South Coast Shap (at Bishop Otter College Chichester): April 1975: World Religions in Education
  • Southern Shap (at West Sussex Institute of Higher Education, Bishop Otter College): April 1988: World Religions Perspectives on Personal and Social Education.
  • Southern Shap ( location as above): April 1993: Religions in the Experience of children and young people

  • At St.Martin's College, Lancaster:
    • Northern Shap: December 1977: Jesus as a Jewish and a Muslim Prophet
    • North West Shap: December 1978: Christ & Buddha in history, art & ethics
    • North West Shap: December 1979: Jesus Mohammad Marx in conflict and congruence
    • North West Shap: December 1980: Women & Religion This was cancelled due to poor recruitment.
    • North West Shap: July 1984: Telling and Hearing Stories from World Religions. This residential conference was run in conjunction with a DES course for primary & secondary teachers and with SC/FDE.
    • July 1981: Religion in World Conflicts: An approach for the sixth form curriculum
    • Anniversary Shap, July 1989: Freedom & Authority in Religions and Religious Education

(c) Paper by Brian Gates for SWP: Shap Conferences: Some Reflections, 1986. (Concerned with changing patterns for /nset and future of Conferences)

B. Miscellaneous Papers

  • Visual Resource Centre Proposal (& related exploration/ correspondence).
  • Developing the Shap website (undated paper by BEG)

C. Books, booklets and journals

  • World Religions for CSE or 16+ , John Finel ed.
  • Religions in Education selected and annotated by Brian Gates and Mary Hayward (Booklet of resources prepared for the National Book League)
  • Afro- Caribbean Religions, edited by Brian Gates
  • Learning for Living, January 1972 (Islam) x 2 copies
  • Learning for Living, May 1973 (The Sikh Religion)
  • Learning for Living, September 1973 (Parsis/ Zoroastrianism)
  • British Journal of Religious Education, Summer 1981 (Teaching Judaism Today) (Shap Members made significant contributions to each of the above issues)


(a) Papers relating to 'German Shap' Conference: April 1985

(b) Collections of papers and/or publications by year:

2002 - comprises:

  • Religious Diversity at Home and in Various Countries- the Response: Dialogue This is described as 'A manual for educationalists explaining examples from European countries based on contributions by….[list of names]. The whole compiled and edited Herbert Schultze.
  • Religious Education Europe and Young People This is ' A collection of papers providing a perspective from different European countries for the 21st Century'. Compiled and edited by Roger B. Howarth.

2003 - including:

  • Large folder of papers relating to Annual General Meeting in Strasbourg & Conference: "From Private to Public"
  • Bound papers for Colloquy ' The Young Individual within her or his Culture Challenging tensions and Acts of Violence. The Response of Youth. November 2003.
  • Advance notice of 2004 meeting

[2004]/ 2005 - including:

  • Paper BEG 2004: Criteria for effectiveness and for enhancing funding prospects
  • Envelope with photographs of Goslar 2004
  • 'Citizenship - a New Way for the Schools of Europe': joint conference of EAWRE and the Office of Religious Education and Media (ARPM), November 2005, Wulperode, Germany.
  • EAWRE Pictorial Calendar 2006
  • Papers relating to Amsterdam 2005: AGM etc
  • Bound publication: 'Challenges of Globalisation for World Religions and Education in Europe', October 2005.

2006 - including:

  • AGM and Conference: ''Peace and War - the Gap between Generations. New Signals for the 'Common House' of Europe born from National Experiences' held in cooperation with the Democritus University of Thrace.

2007 - including:

  • photographic record of the meeting of 2007 in Vienna and various papers.

2008 - comprises:

  • Paper by BEG for EAWRE gathering in Karlstadt in April 2008: 'DO NUMBERS MATTER? The importance of numerical strength and religious demography in determining the content of Religious Education'

2009 - including:

  • Paper by Brian Gates 'Some reflections on EAWRE facing the future', February 2009.
  • Email correspondence with Manfred Kwiran re EAWRE's future, August 2009.
  • Copy of obituary/ tribute? By Brian Gates on death of Herbert Schultze, June 2009
  • Order of service for funeral of Herbert Schultze

27 February 2018, updated 6 March 2018