Ian McCormack welcomes two volumes of local history which brought back memories of his youth
ANGLICANS ON HIGH
The Anglo-Catholic Revival in Suffolk and the Surrounding Area
Roy TrickerThe Fitzwalter Press, 232pp, pbk
978 1901470210, £30 + £5 p&p; available from 38 Lark Drive, Attleboro ugh, Norfolk NR17 1NZ
FROM BROOKE STREET TO BROOKWOOD Nineteenth Century Funeral Reform and S Alban the Martyr Holborn Burial Society
Anglo-Catholic History Society 7Gpp, pbk
£G including postage, available from Mr G.B. Skelly, 24
Cloudesley Square, London N1 OHN or from
Reading these books in conjunction reminded me of two scenes from my Anglo-Catholic youth: visiting Brookwood Cemetery whilst participating in the Triduum Sacrum with Pusey House at Ascot Priory; and touring the beautiful village churches of Norfolk whilst on pilgrimage at Walsingham. Admittedly, Roy Tricker’s beautifidly produced and thoroughly absorbing book is about the churches of neighbouring Suffolk, but the effect is just the same. And Tricker summarizes perfectly the serendipitous delights to be had in visiting rural churches — and especially in finding upon entry that the church has been influenced by the Catholic movement: ‘Seeking out Anglo-Catholic churches is especially rewarding to the church enthusiast, because their custodians have treated them as shrines … A host of symbols, carvings, pictures and aids to devotion, together with burning lamps, well-appointed side chapels and a magnificently-furnished sanctuary, all combine to create a building which is special, sacred, devotional and uplifting and which is indeed the Gate of Heaven in our towns and villages:
Anglicans on High begins with a useful survey of the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival, and the wide-ranging impact which they had on the church buildings and furnishings of England. This includes fascinating reprints from the Directorium Ankticanum, published less than thirty years after Keble’s Assize Sermon and showing the Sarum tradition which was to be popularized by Percy Dearmer, Conrad Noel and the like. Further reprints are interspersed throughout the book, along with a generous number of good quality black and white prints of the churches and clergy under discussion.
Tricker then dedicates a chapter to some notable churches in Suffolk, followed by brief notes on other Suffolk churches associated with the movement and their clergy, and (in many ways the most interesting chapter in the book) a section on `notable’ clergy — in some cases a delicious understatement. Finally, there are brief (but important) chapters on Religious
Communities and the opposition and persecution faced by Catholic clergy in Suffolk. An appendix of almost G0 pages offers glorious colour photographs of many of the churches surveyed in the book.
In many ways, it is the appendix to Brian Parsons’ From Brooke Streetto Brookwood that is the most excitingpart of the book. This short but fascinating work is the product of a curious alliance —that of a teaching fellow at the Centre for Death and Society attached to the University of Bath (the author), and the Anglo-Catholic History Society, which has published the book. The statistics provided by Parsons, and the social trends that he identifies, will doubtless be of interest to sociologists and those concerned with the study of death. But, I would suggest, the joy of this book for most NEw DiRBcTioNs readers will lie in the materials in the appendix (including detailed contemporary descriptions of the funerals of Fathers Mackonochie and Stanton) and the wonderful photographs of funeral processions and the like which richly adorn the text.
Parsons begins by outlining the attempts at reform of funerary practice which took off in the 1830s and lasted until the end of the century. Organizations such as the Guild of All Sonic and the Church of England. Funeral and Mourning Reform Association sought to minimize the cost and ostentation which had come to be seen as a necessary part of a worthy funeral. He then goes on to present a micro-study of the St Alban the Martyr Holborn Burial Society, which brought a plot of land at the Brookwood cemetery near Woking, owned and managed by the London Necropolis Company and accessible by special trains from London Waterloo. To this day Brookwood cemetery provides the interested pilgrim with a diverting afternoon, containing as it does the graves of all sorts and conditions of men, from war heroes to Anglo-Catholic heroes, with Zoroastrians and an array of others thrown in for good measure.
Interestingly, Parsons concludes that the St Alban’s Burial Society and its plot at Brookwood worked — but largely not for the poorest members of society, for whom it was at least partly intended. The reasons for this were several, but a common thread seems to be that even the pared-down funeral requirements that the Society deemed to be necessary were beyond most of the working classes.
Taken together, these books remind the reader of the joy and variety that local history can provide — as well as giving a fascinating snapshot into the breadth and diversity of the connected-but-disparate organizations, ideas and individuals that we tend to lump together under the banner of Anglo-Catholic: Roy Tricker and Brian Parsons — and their publishers — deserve our thanks for bringing the fruits of their labours before a wider audience. Both books are highly recommended. But beware: they may provoke in the reader unnecessary feelings of nostalgia and longing for days that will never be again!