5 January 2022

Perhaps ... Saint John Henry on pre-'Ecclesiological' English Church buildings

 " ... the dilapidated deformed church, with its outside staircases, its unsightly galleries, its wide-intruded windows, its uncouth pews, its low nunting table, its forlorn vestry, and its damp earthy smell ... there were the old monuments, with Latin inscriptions and strange devices, the black boards with white letters, the Resurgams and grinning skulls, the fire-buckets, the faded militia-colours, and, almost as much a fixture, the old clerk, with a Welsh wig over his ears, shouting the responses out of place  ... "

Almost like a cartoon by Hogarth verbis picta, yes? But, tucked away in a corner of a box-pew, perhaps there was a Jane Austen or a Maria Edgeworth ... or perhaps an elderly spinster remembering when the militia colours were not so faded ... remembering when the next pew contained an interesting young man in a red coat who, perhaps, was not to survive Waterloo ... whose eye, perhaps, occasionally, accidentally, met hers ...

When the Pevsners of this world censoriously notice that a particular church suffered a 'harsh' restoration under the Victorians, perhaps they forget how horribly dilapidated and deformed so many churches had become.

S John Henry remembers so much for us.

Dearly beloved, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places ...

If someone asked me to be specific about what 'Englishness' means, perhaps I might invite her to read Newman. She would at least discover what Englishness was.


F Marsden said...

St Mary's parish church in Whitby is a fine example of the Protestant late 18th century arrangements, although originally Norman and added to in the 12th/13th centuries.

Disorderly box pews sit all higgledy-piggledy. The central focus is the lofty three-decker pulpit of 1778, underlining the fact that the sermon was the liturgical high point of worship. In comparison the chancel and communion table could be accidentally unnoticed, totally obscured by a high balcony stretching across the east end of the nave, like a rood screen almost.

The balcony accommodated the lord of the manor or local squire, enabling him and his family to face west, looking down upon the preacher and their social inferiors. Their monuments clutter the chancel in particular - as so often, the Reformation replaced veneration of saints on side altars with the veneration of one's social superiors of the local landowning or aristocratic family.

St Mary's is much touristed and well maintained, but a fascinating example of the pre-Victorian restoration church. It shows perfectly how the Ministry of the Word had almost eliminated the Ministry of the Eucharist.

PM said...

Meanwhile, see the following from English Heritage (!), exhorting us to keep our Christmas decorations up until Candlemas.

They clearly need a sentence Tina re-education camp run by Bergolians and Bugniniacs.

Éamonn said...

I hate to be pedantic but Maria Edgeworth, of Edgeworthstown (olim Mostrim) in Co Longford was not English but Irish! She was of course related to the Abbé Henry Essex Edgeworth de Firmont who ministered to Louis XVI in the Place de la Révolution. She lived long enough to be trudging the boreens bringing food and comfort to the starving and dying during the Great Famine of 1845-48. The people there are still proud of the connection, although the Edgeworth's are long gone.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Reverend Fr. Hunwicke.

Possibly of interest to you.

Reference: English Church Buildings, herewith a Link to The British Library's Digitised Manuscripts, which has an 11th-Century Manuscript showing a Grant of King Æthelstan of England (Reigned 924 A.D. – 939 A.D.) to The Minster of Saints Mary and Peter, Exeter.

In addition, herewith a Link to Kent Online Newspaper, which recently carried an Article on Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, who was Parish Priest at Ulcombe, near Maidstone, Kent, in 1826 -1827.

I have previously asked Reverend Fr. Finigan to Forward the latter Article to you by
E-Mail, as I do not have your E-Mail address.

in Domino

David Hurley

Fr John Hunwicke said...

My impression has always been that Miss Edgeworth was an 'Anglo-Irish' Anglican, a member of the "United Church of England and Ireland".

Have I go this wrong??

jaykay said...

Father: you haven't got it wrong. She was of that background, born in Oxfordshire and only coming to Ireland later. The Abbé who accompanied Louis XVI was born Anglican but converted. Given that she was born in England, in an obviously Anglican family, her name "Maria" would perhaps seem strange but, in a classically suffused society, maybe not? Did it perhaps seem exotic, or even daring, to her contemporaries? Who knows.

There's a lovely vignette about her and her father surveying the slaughter after the "battle" of Ballinamuck in Longford, the last gasp of the 1798 "invasion" by revolutionary General Humbert, in Thomas Flanagan's book "The Year of the French". Her father, an Anglo-Irish landlord, driving out in his carriage with Maria to see the aftermath, accuses a Scottish officer of being a "highland savage" (given the slaughter by his kilted regiment of the surrendering peasantry). He responds along the lines of: "I am no highlander but a son of the manse".

Banshee said...

A lot of Anglo-Irish families had offshoots who converted to Catholicism, or who never converted to Anglicanism. Or the women were Catholic and the men were Anglican, so as not to mess up the inheritance (possibly with a planned deathbed repentance).

Apparently the Abbe Edgeworth's dad, the Rev. Robert Edgeworth, was the first cousin of Maria Edgeworth's dad, Richard Lovell Edgeworth. Robert Edgeworth was the rector (Church of Ireland) in Edgeworthtown, and married a granddaughter of Archbishop Ussher; so he named one of his other sons Ussher Edgeworth.

And then the good Reverend (and his family) converted to Catholicism, was affected by the Penal Laws, and moved to France, and that's how his son the Abbe ended up becoming an Abbe.

Weirdly enough, there's a Captain Edgeworth Ussher who was a loyalist in the US.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Pugin was right.


Éamonn said...

Fr Hunwicke scripsit: "My impression has always been that Miss Edgeworth was an 'Anglo-Irish' Anglican, a member of the "United Church of England and Ireland". Have I go this wrong??"

She was certainly what we call Anglo-Irish, that is to say she was of English ancestry, and a member of the Church of Ireland, then after 1801 the United Church of England and Ireland. That doesn't make her English though. The odd discovery of many generations of Anglo-Irish is that while they are English to us, they are Irish to the English. Sometimes these things have blurred or even ragged edges.

As an English friend of an English friend of mine commented to me once "I can understand you perfectly, then you go all Irish, and I can't make out a word you're saying!" Oddly enough, that was at Keele University which took over Keele Hall, the ancestral home of the Sneyd family - some of whom are buried in their cousins' parish in Edgeworthstown!