Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain, 1830-1910

By Hill, Mary Eleanor | Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview

Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain, 1830-1910


Hill, Mary Eleanor, Anglican Theological Review


Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain, 1830-1910. By Nigel Yates. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. xiv + 455 pp. $170.00/£85.00 (cloth).

Nigel Yates is a well-known scholar of the ritualist revival of the nineteenth-century Church of England. Here is the definitive work on the revival of ritualism, its cause and effect. This book can best be described as a tour de force on the topic. He presents a cogent argument to support his theory that the reason for the ritual revival was based on a theological and psychological reaction to mid-nineteenth-century life (p. 3). According to Yates, the ritualist revival was not, in the rueful comment of David Lloyd George, "a system of salvation by haberdashery" (p. 2).

As a historian, Yates realizes that no movement springs ex nihilo. He does an admirable job tracing the heritage to be found in the history of Anglicanism. The conclusion to which Yates comes is a magnificent summation of the currents of religious and social history between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It represents, I think, a summation worthy of summarizing here. Yates says that it was a combination of aestheticism, antiquarianism, medievalism, and romanticism (pp. 67-69). One thing that he leaves out of this mix is, I think, that of the search for an identity for the second generation of Tractarianism. Something had to replace the Tracts for the Times as the raison de nom for the followers of Fusey, Keble, and Neale. Their identity as a group had been tied to the thoughts and agenda of the Tracts. Once they ceased publication in 1840, there was no discernible rallying point. …

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