A parish is the smallest unit of Church organisation. It may be defined as a township or cluster of townships having its own church (the parish church). A parish has its own priest, vicar or clergyman to whom the tithes and ecclesiastical dues are/were paid.
The Roman Catholic and Anglican Church both are arranged in the same hierarchical way: the Church of England merely took over the Catholic system. Henry VIII broke away from a direct connection with Rome although during his reign there was only a "change of management". The real break with the Catholic Church came with Elizabeth I who created the Anglican Church as the Established Church.
The Anglican hierarchy
Last modified 16 August 2002