The Arts of the Anglican Counter-Reformation: Glory, Laud and Honour

Article excerpt

The Arts of the Anglican Counter-Reformation: Glory, Laud and Honour. By Graham Parry. (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press, 2006, Pp. xi, 207. $80.00.)

Professor Graham Parry has given us a careful and thoughtful study of churches and their furnishings in early-Stuart England during the 1620s and 1630s. He highlights the influence of key ecclesiastical figures, Lancelot Andrewes, Richard Neile, John Cosin, and, especially, William Laud, on the increased emphasis on ceremony, liturgy and ornament during this period-settling on "Laudianism" as the best descriptive term for this movement. His aim is to show the way changes in church decoration were "responsible for the return of the arts to the service of the Church after many decades of austerity and iconophobia" (6).

As the title indicates, Parry believes this period is best described as an English Counter Reformation that was deeply influenced by, and in many ways corresponded to, the continental Catholic Counter Reformation of the previous century. He is helpful in pointing out the Catholic influences on, for example, the enameled glass in chapels at Oxford and Cambridge, or the devotional prose written for Laudian prayer books, while showing also its English sources-in the writings of Thomas Hooker among others.

Though consistently opposed by Puritans as a betrayal of the Reformation, this group of churchmen, influenced by Arminian beliefs, sought to restore a ceremonial order to worship and church decoration. Parry is careful to show that this growing movement was rooted firmly in the church's longer medieval and patristic history. Though seeking a middle way between the Reformation and the Catholic practices, Parry admits the leaders occasionally stimulated opposition by the heavyhanded means they used to introduce their reforms. …