Current Quality of Church's Shoes - Page 6
I would agree with you, over the past 3 years or so their (good) reputations have gone to their heads and now they are milking their customers. Quality across the board has been reduced while price has increased.
The demand has increased. Online communities like this one are also "responsible" for it, for spreading the word praising English shoes far and wide :)
I've read here or at AAAC that Northampton shoe makers have big problems with increasing production due to the shortage of skilled workers (average age: around 50). And what does a capitalist company do when the demand increases and supply is inelastic? They increase the price.
Another factor is inflation, of course. The pound stering ain't what it used to be, and at least part of the materials used for a C&J shoe is imported (notably, leather).