Bigger than the plate
V&A until 20 October
Exhibitions are both a blessing and a curse for those galleries and museums which house a permanent collection. The blessing is that a successful exhibition will bring in people and much needed funds. It is often a good way to understand an artist’s range or a particular topic and it’s usually the only way to bring together the works of a great artist.
The curse is that the permanent collection is ignored or neglected by visitors and funders alike and today there is growing resentment at the sky-high prices and variable charging which the largest galleries now impose for their blockbusters. Rather like the Royal Opera, if you want to get access to the best tickets for the best shows you have to pay upfront and join the Royal Academy or National Gallery. The vision of Prince Albert for museums as the great educators free for all at the point of delivery is under threat just at the time when outreach has become something of a fetish.
The museum which bears Albert’s name is a good illustration of this. At the time of writing the new exhibition space under the Sackler Courtyard (at least for now the museum has had the decency to keep the name of the people whose money they took for the redevelopment) was packing them out with the Christian Dior exhibition, extended for a month and no tickets to be had. At the same time visitors could visit the permanent collections and the ‘Food’ exhibition.
The permanent collections are, of course, neglected, especially the ones on the upper levels. And yet, if the ecclesiastical plate and vestments were on show in the treasury of some European cathedral you’d be sure the clergy would make a beeline for them (and to be fair, the local SSC Chapter has). The V & A also has a fine selection of Constable oil sketches and full-size drafts of ‘The Haywain’ and ‘The Leaping Horse.’ The latter are amongst his most romantic and powerful works, different from the fully worked-up versions but with great strength and feeling. There is also one of Degas’ orchestra pit paintings and small works by Delacroix, Courbet and Turner, all of which are good specimens of the artists and would be on display in many a national art gallery.
The galleries where these works are on show are usually empty except for visitors who are lost or on their way elsewhere. Still, the V & A does its best to attract us to its unseen collections. Galleries have been renewed with modern lighting and vitrines (the ceramics rooms are a great success). There are also short-term special shows placed amongst the permanent collection but these tend to the niche. The Japan gallery currently has a show of recent prints which illustrate the foibles of modern rail transport through the conventions of the artists of the Floating World. It is genuinely amusing though not a crowd-puller.
Maybe the way ahead for the permanent displays is the exhibitions, which don’t quite come off and which leave the visitor with time to explore the rest of the museum. ‘Food’ is one such exhibition. It is an overtly political show about how important agriculture is in our lives and how the pressures of population and climate change require us to try to reuse everything a farm produces. At one level this feels like an updated version of the 1970s self-sufficiency comedy ‘The Good Life,’ though without the humour or Felicity Kendall. But maps of Hampstead show where overhanging trees from people’s gardens may be harvested for fruit. And we learn how old-fashioned fruit picking has been revived for the working classes of Hackney.
And then there is waste. The show is big on waste. In Berlin, spare coffee grounds are drained and made into cups and saucers, though the cups have a coffee aftertaste. In Italy cow dung has been made into ‘merdacotta’ tableware which might have raised a smile from the curators. And there have been experiments in this country with cheese cultivated from the bacteria found in the dead skin of celebrities. The cheese has not been made for commercial production but is intended to stimulate an understanding of how we treat human waste. Dean Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ it isn’t.
This show could have been interesting. There’s one of an early series of Bovril adverts with a large bull who looks at a pot of Bovril and says: ‘Alas, my brother.’ There’s a board which talks about the use of drones and tagging in modern farming but makes little of it. There is a random selection of ethically slanted tableware—brightly coloured cutlery which has reduced spillages by 84% (how can they be so precise?) for those with dementia—a pair of large, beautifully crafted spoons made to illustrate the story of how people might feed each other in heaven (ideal for school assemblies)—and a selection of stackable Brown Bettys (though no reference to the problems modern Brown Bettys have often had with weak handles). Each interesting in its way but not part of a coherent whole.
This visitor left looking for Japanese railway posters.
Jesus Christ Superstar,
The Night of the Iguana
It’s been a good summer for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Phantom has hit 33 years and counting in the West End, School of Rock is packing them in, Cats ‘the movie’ has begun as a trailer ahead of cinema release this December, a new production of Joseph is pulling in crowds at the Palladium, Evita had a dark and grungy revival at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and Jesus Christ Superstar got a further run at the Barbican Theatre.
Superstar, as it’s known, started as concept album in 1970, then a stadium concert to 12,000 and a big Broadway show the year after. A pared-back version opened in London in 1972 (Shostakovich apparently saw it twice). Since then it’s been a film, various productions including large-scale arena format in 2004, and most recently on stage in Regent’s Park over 2016-17, then to America, and now ‘re-imagined’ for the Barbican. Even though it’s a short piece (under two hours), and has chamber-like qualities, it’s still strong and packs punch — particularly in assured artistic hands. This previous outdoors show interacted wonderfully with nature and the cosmos, in the middle of the park just as the film was in the middle of a desert. But indoors, its intimacy somehow heightens the intensity to the point of feeling claustrophobic. It’s also loud; the decibel level by the end was enough to make ears bleed.
Essentially a Good Friday narrative, it also has York Mystery influences, illustrated well in the psychodrama of Ricardo Alfonso’s muscular Judas which showed the agony of betrayal (set up neatly with him dipping his hands into the chest before the interval; they emerge dripping in silver paint). Some licence is taken in the book. For the sake of a lyric ‘nor Judas, nor the twelve’ it implies the former was not one of the latter. Pilate (X Factor winner Matt Cardle, all mascara and menace) has a dream and not his wife. Mary Magdalene’s set piece ‘I don’t know how to love him’ turns the old canard of erotic love into a new sense of discipleship, sung hesitantly by Sallay Garnett. Meanwhile Samuel Buttery portrayed Herod as a camp and screamy Adèle tribute, but it worked, like Gavin Cornwall’s deep-voiced, slippery, political Caiphas.
Director Timothy Sheader and designer Tom Scutt glorified the glam rock. Ed Bussey’s expert band was in full view on stage across the top level of the set. Priestly staffs were upside-down microphone stands. When Judas commits his dramatic suicide, it ended with a microphone dangling in spotlight, the ultimate drop. Costume design gave us streetwear to match the girders. Baggy hoodies and sweatpants echoed first-century dress. When Robert Tripolino as Jesus came forward for his Act II ‘Gethsemane’ soliloquy with a guitar across his chest he could easily be a contemporary worship band leader. His thin-reed depiction opened out and he strode through the rest of the action with pathos and force. The ‘39 Lashes’ which follow the trial were unbearably painful with each percussive snap and successive glitter bursts. The beam of the cross was a mic stand and Jesus attached to it with sound cables. Once hoisted aloft, the famous ‘Superstar’ refrain haunted like a question. The muted end (‘John 19:41’) let the cross shine forth. Superstar is 50 next year, and is more than mere nostalgia.
It was a brave decision on someone’s part to stage Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana on St Martin’s Lane while just a few streets away the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse continues. Because the central character in the play is the Revd T. Lawrence Shannon, a ‘defrocked’ priest, slyly played by Clive Owen, who has questionable relations with teenage girls. That was what landed him in trouble with his parish and led to expulsion, now to be leading coach parties around 1940s Central America as a tour guide. Here he arrives at the Costa Verde Hotel on the western shore of Mexico, run by newly-widowed (and all the merrier for it) Maxine Faulk. Throw into this some Latino lads who work at the hotel (and catch the eponymous iguana), a family of holidaying Germans who delight in the wireless news of Nazi bombs falling on London, then a spinster with her elderly, Homeric poet grandfather, broke yet dignified, and the concoction is there as heady as the rum-coco cocktail they all chug, for a showdown. That inevitably comes, with a thunderstorm, so all the TW elements are in place, even if this is not among his finest work.
It’s nevertheless a Chekhov-like exploration of character and the damage we can do to ourselves, as well as one another. Owen’s crumpled performance was elusive and coherent, an anti-hero who grapples with his place in the world. Anna Gunn’s Maxine was similarly discontented but a bravura display of sass and survival. Lia Williams as Hannah Jelkes gave the standout performance. She showed adamantine survivability, weakness, fragility, and the vitality of faded hope. Designer Rae Smith’s set of cliff edge cabanas perched against a Krakatoan-type rock kept everything involved. Director James Macdonald did a good job in exposing but never preaching on moral dilemma, wrestling with major themes on fidelity, faithfulness, human nature and humanity. It’s a play that calls for us to be kinder to our fellow pilgrims; more generous, less hasty.
When the iguana is liberated at the end, there is some relief, and a lifting of burdens all round. Salvation demands we understand the need to be saved from ourselves and this around us, against odds and in spite of damage. It’s a gentle coda to all that has gone in the three hours before, and makes the point we all have some part to play in human flourishing.
The Stained Glass of Charles Eamer Kempe and his Artists
Lutterworth Press 2019.
ISBN: 978 0 7188 9464 1 £20
When I was ordained, I went to serve as curate in the Priory Church of St Mary the Virgin in Monmouth, where I was surrounded by stained glass from the studio of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907). Alas, at that time I was not particularly interested in stained glass, and so I missed an unrepeatable opportunity to study some of the finest Kempe work in any parish church, though I did register its powerful quality. Had Espying Heaven been available then, a knowledge and appreciation of Kempe, and of stained glass in general, might have taken root and enriched my life for decades. (The author has also written an excellent pamphlet to guide visitors round the windows at St Mary’s.)
Espying Heaven is the companion volume to Adrian Barlow’s biographical study of Kempe which I reviewed in last May’s issue of New Directions, and for anyone who loves stained glass and the work of Kempe’s studio, or who wishes to understand both, this book will be an essential purchase.
First of all, let due praise be given to the Lutterworth Press for undertaking publication, and for producing a book of the highest quality. Almost every page is loaded with full-colour pictures in the clearest definition, which is essential when dealing with stained glass. All credit to Alastair Carew-Cox for his camera expertise.
However, this book is no repetition of Adrian Barlow’s earlier work. Its purpose is partly to present us with examples of the Kempe studio’s best work, but even more it aims to introduce us to the meaning of these windows and to help us to understand the principles which guided Kempe and his designers. As I said in my previous review, Kempe’s genius lay in spotting young artists of real talent, introducing them to the historical legacy of stained glass, and then giving them their head to produce work rooted in tradition yet also personal. In this book we learn to recognize the individual qualities of Kempe’s three outstanding artists, Wyndham Hope Hughes, John Thomas Carter and John William Lisle. Between them, they established the recognizable Kempe style.
A careful reading of Espying Heaven will enable us to recognize Kempe studio windows whenever we see them, and also to distinguish the personal features which the three fine artists brought to their work. Hughes gives us detailed backgrounds of an English character, for example. Carter draws particularly fine faces and relishes the chance to portray rich drapery. Lisle displays the latter in even greater profusion and has a fine command of heraldry.
The Studio’s most characteristic pieces can leave us almost breathless at the amount of detail they contain, which is why these windows repay careful study. (It must be confessed that occasionally the detail is overwhelming.) Another striking feature is the way that Carter and Lisle create an impression of movement in what is essentially a static medium. Page fifty-two shows Lisle’s depiction of an angel swinging a censer in a window for the church of St John the Evangelist in Cowley. We can almost feel the rush of air as the thurible rises to its highest point. We also notice a notable Kempe feature, the peacock feather pattern of angels’ wings.
The impact of Kempe windows lies not only in design detail, but also in the symbolic and historical figures found in them. Here we see the extensive knowledge of Kempe himself, deciding the contents of a window which his artists would then make a reality. St John’s church in Cowley provides another splendid example, displaying the founders of religious orders attached to the living vine growing from the Cross, and Mr Barlow devotes space to a detailed description of it, helping us to appreciate the significance of its content. (St Stephen’s House students, please study this East window attentively while you can.)
It is not only the universally recognized saints of the Church who feature in these windows. Kempe was a staunchly Church of England man, with a high regard for the great figures of its history. A visit to Southwark Cathedral will reveal windows displaying fine depictions of three English martyrs – Becket (as might be expected), but also Charles I and Archbishop Laud. The Archbishop carries on his arm, almost like a maniple, an axe, the instrument of his death. Perhaps most important individual of all to Kempe was George Herbert, both for his poetry and for his embodiment of a distinctively Anglican pattern of priesthood. He features in several windows from the studio.
A further lesson to be learned from this book is the remarkable technical mastery required not only in the design of windows but also in their production and installation. This is spectacularly revealed in the great South Transept windows of Lichfield and Hereford Cathedrals, both produced in 1895. (How I wish we had been given a picture of the Hereford window to compare with that of Lichfield.) Here is the place to pay a tribute to Kempe’s master glazier, Alfred Tombleson, who oversaw the creation and positioning of many windows. So important was his contribution that Kempe even allowed Tombleson’s own monogram to appear in some glass, along with his personal signatures of a wheatsheaf and a pelican.
Kempe and his studio clearly inspired devotion from their workers. Wyndham Hughes left relatively early, but Carter remained with the firm until retirement, and Tombleson and Lisle were still working there under Kempe’s successor, Walter Tower, when C. E. Kempe & Co. closed in 1934.
It is difficult to review a book of this kind because everything depends upon the pictures. However, there is no question about the debt which all lovers of stained glass owe to Adrian Barlow for this volume and its predecessor. Whether the Kempe style appeals to you or not, once you have read this study you will never look casually at a Kempe window again. If you are already a Kempe enthusiast, your appreciation of his glass will be hugely increased.
Espying Heaven is a book to read in small doses in order not to be submerged by the sheer wealth of imagery it contains. Even more, it is a work to read slowly, giving time to examine the pictures carefully. By this means it may well become a help to reflection and even prayer. Beyond question it is a book to buy and treasure.
Barry A. Orford
Canterbury Press, 2019
Samuel Wells is fast developing a reputation for Stakhanovite publishing akin to Rowan Williams, and little wonder as they are both masters at repurposing their material. The latest offering, however, from the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields is a curious confection and not likely to rank among his best. Walk Humbly — encouragements for living, working, and being is a slim volume (under 100 pages) and attractively hardbound. The Preface sets out its ambitious store: ‘This is a short book: but it may not turn out to be a quick read. It’s designed to be pondered, weighed, tasted, and digested one chapter a time, perhaps even one sentence at a time. If you find it a little dense, perhaps you’re seeking to read it a little too fast. Its reading demands of the reader what its argument asks: humility, gentleness, patience, gratitude’. And on it goes, somewhat bloviated, to reach its climax with the vaunted conclusion: ‘What I want is for a person to ask, “How should I feel when I have prayed?”— and for their companion to reply, “You know how you felt when you finished reading Walk Humbly? It should feel like that”.’ Then, apparently without irony, Chapter One opens on the next page: ‘Be humble.’
This inconsistent tone runs throughout the book. The Preface mentions as inspiration the 1927 prose poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (‘Go placidly amid the noise and haste…’) so popular in the 1980s and 90s, but seldom referenced nowadays. Likewise here, as Wells never brings it up again. He also namechecks Thomas Traherne as inspiration, yet never quotes him. The first three chapters have no mention of God, scripture, theology, tradition or the Church. That changes over the remaining five chapters, but the set-up in this Americanese style of self-reflection is easily confused with the hollow promise of so much wellness and wellbeing speak.
Here and there are hints that this was originally material for an American audience (with certain words and cultural references) and maybe dates from his days at Duke University. If that is so, then more recent output from Wells shows greater fluency and substance. In places the language here can ring a tin ear: ‘Thus gentleness is a salad derived from kindness, patience, and self-control’ or ‘essence imbues existence with elements of wonder through which existence may find traction on the path of grace, like a car whose wheels are fitted with chains to help it drive through the snow’ or ‘as the waves of circumstance pound the shore of your life’ and so on. Soundbite stuff to the point of being meme-speak.
Some of the greater Wells themes are discernible. The Hauerwas influence through narrative theology is there: ‘To be part of such a story is to discover what it means for your identity to be a gift, for your destiny to be beyond existence, for your past to be no longer a prison, and for the future to be your friend’. Also the ‘being with’ surfaces towards the end to describe Jesus, the essence (God) entering existence (humanity) bringing us into the eternal mystery and saving us. And he does like his category lists (three types of self, two types of mission, for example).
Perhaps this book began life as an extended talk for students or a number of quiet day-style addresses. In places it is stimulating and very good indeed when on solid ground. In general, it lacks the cohesion and clarity for which Wells has come to be known. There are some ‘Wonderings’ in the final pages which may facilitate discussion of each chapter’s themes. One for pastoral assistants and those discerning a vocation, perhaps, or a confirmation present. Otherwise this is a book for enthusiasts only, which is regrettably not a very humble thing to say.
Letter to a Suffering Church
105 pages, Word on Fire Catholic
Robert Barron is a noted evangelist, theologian and auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, who is known to many across the world from his Word on Fire YouTube channel and TV series on Catholicism. A generous but firm Roman Catholic, he is highly influenced by Anglican writers such as C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright.
In this short volume, currently available on Kindle for only 99p, Barron tries to make some theological sense of the abuse crises that have so rocked the Church in recent years. The particular catalysts have been the revelations that came to light in summer 2018, of widespread abuse of minors in Pennsylvania by Roman Catholic priests, and of gross sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In the Church of England, we would have some of our own to add.
The book is divided into five chapters. The first, entitled The Devil’s Masterpiece reflects that ‘if the Church had a personal enemy… it is hard to imagine that he could have come up with a better plan’. Since the spiritual enemy works with and through human agency, however, there can be no evasion of responsibility. The dismal consequences have been huge disaffection from the Church and the seemingly relentless rise those whose answer to faith is ‘none’.
Having set the scene, Barron then writes on Light from Scripture. He uncovers within the Old Testament stories that elucidate apparently contemporary phenomena, such as the way abuse travels down generations (Lot’s daughters), authority figures who fail to act when they are made aware of corruption (Eli) and powerful people covering up their own sin at the expense of others (David). Finally, he turns to Jesus’s own attitude to children, drawing a powerful parallel between Jesus’s command that his hearers should humble themselves like children and Christ’s own humbling of himself in the incarnation, as described by Paul in Philippians 2. A third chapter is a no-holds-barred exposition of immoral behaviour that has afflicted the Church throughout her history, since the time of the New Testament: the story of a sinful Church is not a uniquely modern one.
The fourth chapter addresses the central question Why Should we Stay? Here, Barron presents a robust response: ‘the vessels are all fragile and many of them are downright broken but we don’t stay because of the vessels we stay because of the treasure’. We should stay, he argues, because the Church uniquely speaks about God, in whose direction every human heart is oriented; because the Church is the body of Christ, whose members, grafted into Christ, continue ‘his properly subversive and re-creative work in the world’; because the sacraments are the source of healing that can be found nowhere else; and because, despite the manifest corruption of many ecclesial leaders, the saints continue to show us the love of God in myriad ways.
In a final chapter on The Way Forward, Barron writes about the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and outlines the Dallas protocols that now govern the way that abuse is dealt with in his context. Such documents closely mirror the guidance that is now provided in the Church of England. Although such procedures are indispensable, the other crucial aspect of the way forward which Barron robustly advocates is the need for spiritual renewal. At times when their own cultures and the Church of their time were collapsing around them, he reminds us that renewal was fostered by figures such as Benedict, Francis and Ignatius of Loyola, and we need God to raise up their counterparts today: ‘this is precisely the time for new orders, new movements, new works of the Spirit’.
Despite the cultural and ecclesial differences between Barron’s context and our own, this book as well as being indispensable reading for bishops, priests and deacons, would make the basis of an excellent five-week study course for almost any parish. That is because it is so full of honest reflection, deep repentance, sturdy biblical exegesis, excellent theology and, above all, faith, hope and love.
Book of the month
THE OXFORD HISTORY OF ANGLICANISM, VOL. III
Partisan Anglicanism and its Global Expansion, 1829-c.1914
Rowan Strong (ed.)
Oxford University Press, pp. Xxiv + 490, £30 978-0198822301
Re-publication of the five-volume Oxford History of Anglicanism in paperback this July prompts this review of volume 3, which covers the period from the revolution in church-state relations which called the Oxford Movement into being until the beginning of the first world war.
Rowan Strong has correctly identified the twin themes of nineteenth-century Anglicanism: expansion of the United Church of England and Ireland, with its (as yet unrelated) Episcopal counterparts in Scotland and the USA, into a global communion, and development of ‘an unprecedented divisive partisan culture’ within it. His Introduction is followed by survey chapters on Britain and Europe, the British Empire and Anglicanism beyond the Empire, Church-State relations, and the missionary societies. Then come four chapters on the church parties – High Church, Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Liberal, eight on the various non-European regions, and five on selected themes (music, art and architecture, science, feminization, economic and social engagement).
As in many multi-authored volumes, the quality is uneven (the chapter on Church-State relations, for example, is good on England but misleading in relation to the Colonial Church), but the best is very good. The opening chapters combine to offer a very helpful summary of the key developments in the Church of England during the nineteenth century.
Which subjects deserve thematic chapters of their own can always be disputed. Attention to the transformation of the clergy from an often impoverished branch of the Oxbridge-educated landed gentry into a profession with its own training institutions might have been useful. An account of the development of the male religious orders might have felt fresher than the well-ploughed furrow of ‘feminization’.
Of the thematic chapters, those on music and science are especially interesting. Jeremy Dibble points out that the surpliced choir in the chancel of the parish church was invented not by the Tractarians but by the Vicar of Leeds in 1818. However, from 1843 the Tractarians’ London outpost, the Margaret Chapel, was central to the revival of plainsong, taken up by its successor All Saints’, Margaret Street, and other ritualist churches such as All Saints’ church plant St Mary Magdalene, Paddington, and St Alban’s, Holborn. From the 1880s the passion for plainsong began to wane, and all church parties adopted the ‘cathedral model’ of choral worship – ironically named, since cathedral standards had generally lagged behind those of the best parish churches. At St Paul’s Cathedral the Tractarians Richard Church and Henry Liddon brought in John Stainer in 1872 to reform the choir, which quickly supplanted that of Leeds Parish Church as the pre-eminent model.
Diarmid Finnegan’s study of the complex interaction between Anglicanism and science is topical and timely. Anglican clergy were prominent in the British Association for the Advancement of Science and in developing pre-Darwinian theories of evolution. Darwin himself, though resistant to enforced orthodoxy, was sympathetic to the Church as a cultural institution, gave an annual donation to the South American Missionary Society, deliberately left room for ‘theistic evolutionism’, and could count Anglican figures among his vocal supporters. Richard Dawkins, take note!
Most of the regional chapters offer just what this sort of book should provide in terms of summary histories of Anglicanism in the areas covered. They contain many interesting nuggets: for example, that no fewer than one-third of Upper Canada’s clergy in 1841 were Irish-born. A common question in the colonies was that of whether the Anglican church had a mission to the native population or was there only as a chaplaincy to the colonial elite. ‘Anglicanism in the British West Indies during the nineteenth century’, we learn, ‘never succeeded in moving adherence to the Church of England beyond the plantocracy’. The East India Company opposed missionary activity in India strenuously but unsuccessfully: it paid the price for its failure when the Indian Rebellion of 1857, blamed on the aggressiveness and arrogance of missionaries, resulted in its nationalization in 1858. The three Anglican bishops in Jerusalem were types for three larger models of mission: Michael Solomon Alexander (1841-5) aimed, for millenarian reasons, to create a Jewish Christian congregation; Samuel Gobat (1846-79) sought to set up a Protestant church structure for Greek Orthodox Arabs; George Blyth (1887-1914) rejected proselytism and functioned instead as an Anglican ambassador to the ancient churches of the Holy Land.
The histories of some churches are told very well– if sometimes in greater detail than might appear necessary in this context – but others receive insufficient attention. India and Australia have chapters of their own (in addition to a six-page section on India in ‘Anglicanism in the British Empire’), but treatment of the USA is split between eleven pages in ‘Anglicanism beyond the British Empire’ and a very superficial seven-page account (based on a single standard history) in ‘Anglicanism in North America and the Caribbean’. The Episcopal Church in Buenos Aires gets five (admittedly interesting) pages, while the very different contexts of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are allocated only five pages between them.
Perhaps the strangest omission of all, in a volume of the ‘History of Anglicanism’, is the lack of any account of the development of the idea of an ‘Anglican Communion’ and of the structures that embodied it. There are just six isolated references to the Lambeth Conferences. Surely by the later nineteenth century, and certainly by 1914, the Communion was more than the sum of its parts?
It is perhaps in its explanation of how the different traditions of churchmanship developed in the nineteenth century (and how those traditions influenced the policies of the various missionary societies) that this volume makes its most significant contribution.
Andrew Atherstone charts the rise of Evangelicalism to dominance in the mid-nineteenth century (with J. B. Sumner as the first Evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury from 1848) and its declining influence in the later nineteenth century. There were tensions between late nineteenth-century Evangelicals over how far they should co-operate with other Anglicans and adopt the less doctrinally contentious – and now widely embraced – developments in worship and aesthetics pioneered by high churchmen and Tractarians.
Mark Chapman presents the Broad Church tradition – a better label, he argues, than ‘liberal’, since ‘the Broad Churchmen were first and foremost churchmen rather than the sort of liberals and utilitarians against which so many conservatives had reacted in the 1830s’. The scholarship of the Broad Church Cambridge theologians Westcott, Lightfoot and Hort, Chapman judges, was ‘only very modestly liberal’.
As Rowan Strong explains, use of ‘high church’ as a catch-all phrase for the various strands of Anglican identity that valued the Church of England’s catholic nature has obscured the continuance of a distinct non-Tractarian high-church tradition through to the end of the century. Recent research – ably presented in this volume by Robert Andrews – has begun to correct that. Andrews rejects the widespread assumption that this tradition had ‘run out of steam’ by the 1830s, ‘passing the baton of activism’ to the Oxford Movement Tractarians.
Churchmanship groups are neither monolithic nor watertight. Keble was closer in spirit to the old high churchmen than the ex-evangelical Newman and Hurrell Froude. Some representatives of the older high-church tradition were influenced by Tractarianism and have therefore sometimes been mis-categorized as Tractarians. Examples include Walter Hook (Vicar of Leeds and later Dean of Chichester), H. E. Manning (Archdeacon of Chichester and later Cardinal), and George Selwyn (Bishop of New Zealand and later of Lichfield). It was non-Tractarian high-church bishops (Howley, Blomfield, Kaye, Monk) who reformed the Church of England in the later 1830s and 1840s, while the revival of diocesan structures between the 1820s and the 1870s was largely a high-church phenomenon.
Though many of the older high church leaders (such as Dean Burgon of Chichester and Archdeacon Denison of Taunton) lived on into the 1880s and 1890s, the old high-church tradition was less visible in those decades. More work needs to be done on how nineteenth-century high churchmanship morphed into what John Maiden has elsewhere called the ‘Centre-High’ tradition that was dominant within the Church of England’s episcopate in the interwar period and indeed through the 1950s, and the extent to which its key figures – though often self-consciously distinct from the developed Anglo-Catholicism of the twentieth century – were influenced not only by the older high-church tradition but also by the Oxford Movement.
In his account of the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism, James Pereiro documents co-operation between Tractarians and older high churchmen in high-church societies (the Additional Curates Society and the National Society) and in publication of the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology.
The final section of Pereiro’s chapter (‘When did the Oxford Movement become Anglo-Catholicism?’) is especially interesting. He is surely right to argue that ‘Late nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholicism seems to have been the combination of a fourfold genetic inheritance, in which Tractarian elements mixed with Cambridge ecclesiology [in relation to church buildings], traditional High Churchmanship, and liberal theology [as espoused by Charles Gore and others in Lux Mundi (1889)].’ He continues, ‘These elements, combined in different measures and degrees, were to give rise to the different groupings sheltering under the Anglo-Catholic umbrella. The “Catholic Revival” within the Church of England was more a kaleidoscope than a monochrome phenomenon.’ This continued to be true of Anglo-Catholicism in the interwar period, as it is of the Catholic Movement today. Greater recognition of our diversity, and of our multiple antecedents, would make a positive contribution to our life as a movement and to our future.