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Victorian ReformationThe Fight Over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860$
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Dominic Janes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195378511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195378511.001.0001

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Art and Sacrament

Art and Sacrament

(p.25) 2 Art and Sacrament
Victorian Reformation

Dominic Janes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the background to ritualism in the religious and cultural ferment of the early 19th century. It explains how Tractarianism and Ecclesiology both led to an impetus amongst a minority of Anglican clergy for the development of elaborate liturgical forms based on those of the late medieval English Church which quickly became known as ritualism. This process can be considered as part of the wider phenomenon known as the Gothic Revival in art and architecture. In essence, a romanticised view of the Middle Ages which was itself a reaction against Enlightenment notions of progress and of escape for the supposedly primitive ways of the European past. Perhaps best conceptualised by Pugin, gothic styles were meant to be provide a model for the re-sacralisation of England, particularly its blighted urban areas. It is made clear, however, that Pugin’s vision, like that of most contemporary ritualists, was not based primarily upon contemporary Roman Catholic reality but upon an imaginary and idealised English Catholicism. Therefore, the ensuing battles over ritualism in the Church of England were in fact evidence of a fight over the nature of England and English identity.

Keywords:   Gothic Revival, Pugin, Anglican, Ritualism, medieval, England, Englishness

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