Victorian Reformation: The Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860

By Dominic Janes | Go to book overview

2
Art and Sacrament

Ritualism was powerfully inspired by a desire to recreate the visual and material forms of medieval worship in art, artefact, and architecture. It therefore plays a role in a larger, widely documented phenomenon known as the ‘Gothic Revival’.1 The modern consensus seems to be that Gothic, as a style of art and decoration, never quite died out in England. The stretching upward of the Romanesque arch was, driven by enthusiasm for elaboration, structure, height, and light, of sufficient allure that the competing claims of perfect classical proportion were never to entirely displace it in the early modern period. The authority of past traditions was something upon which various power blocks in society attempted to seize. The spell of antiquity was felt by ecclesiastical revivalists of various persuasions. For example, George Reginald Balleine, in his classic history of the evangelicals, talking of Wesley’s early enthusiasm, said that ‘probably most earnest men, who take an interest in theology, pass through a stage in which they feel strongly the glamour of Antiquity … to the end of his life Wesley was a Patristic student; he translated the Apostolic Fathers for the use of his preachers’.2 In the absence of obvious architectural parallels from early Christian antiquity, those interested in the material evocation of the Christian past turned to the medieval churches that were scattered across Britain. That much of the appeal was romantic and aesthetic should not blind us to other resonances of Gothic style. The origins of the neo-medieval style in eighteenth-century domestic architecture lay not merely in the whims of aristocratic frivolity as has

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Victorian Reformation: The Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • 1 - Introduction- Victorian Reformation 3
  • 2 - Art and Sacrament 25
  • 3 - Riots and Trials in London, 1840–60 51
  • 4 - Satan Transformed- Comparative Religion 93
  • 5 - Gothic Novelties 135
  • Conclusion- the Convenient Despot 163
  • Notes 185
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 235
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