Religion

Jane Stabler, “Religious Liberty in the ‘Liberal,’ 1822-23″

Jane Stabler, “Religious Liberty in the ‘Liberal,’ 1822-23″

A survey of the negative twentieth- and twenty-first-century critical reception of the Liberal; a summary of the history of the journal and a re-evaluation of the philosophical and political coherence of the journal, focusing on its defence of religious liberty and suggesting that religious free thought is a previously overlooked component in the politics of liberalism. The criticism of doctrinal rigidity and advocacy of different forms of religious toleration evident in the four issues of the Liberal support the claim that the journal forms a lucid and intelligible cultural intervention.

Figure 2: 1844 portrait of John Keble by George Richmond (Keble College, Oxford; used with permission)

Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi, “14 July 1833: John Keble’s Assize Sermon, National Apostasy

This essay outlines the personal interactions and political events preceding John Keble’s delivery of a sermon later entitled National Apostasy to the judges gathered at Oxford for the Assize Court as a way of understanding the sermon’s significance in relation to the Oxford Movement.

Peter Capuano, “On Sir Charles Bell’s The Hand, 1833″

Peter Capuano, “On Sir Charles Bell’s The Hand, 1833″

This essay explores the cultural context in which Sir Charles Bell’s 1833 Bridgewater Treatise was published by focusing on the work as a culmination of his deep religious faith, his Edinburgh anatomical training, and his occupation as a surgeon at the Leeds Infirmary. It argues that The Hand was not merely an extension of Paleyan natural theology but also an important response to the era’s struggle with the grim physical reality of the supersession of manual labor by automatic manufacture.

Ayla Lepine, “On the Founding of Watts & Co., 1874″

Ayla Lepine, “On the Founding of Watts & Co., 1874″

In 1874 three prominent Victorian architects founded the ecclesiastical and domestic fittings and furnishings business Watts & Company: George Gilbert Scott junior, Thomas Garner, and George Frederick Bodley. The firm was established within a cultural climate of transition. By the 1870s, the Gothic Revival and the Aesthetic Movement began to overlap and merge. Sacred and secular architectural and decorative impulses increasingly shared common traits. These aesthetic shifts were accompanied by major debates in British religious and political spheres. In the foundations of Watts and Company, beauty and labor were interlaced with religious controversy, political reform, and commercial ambition. Begun when William Morris’ own decorative arts firm, begun in 1861, underwent drastic restructuring, and in the same few months that Parliament debated High Anglican rituals, and church practices could land clerics in prison, Watts and Company’s incorporation was a bold move for the three architects. What had its roots in radicalism and avant-garde style set the tone for the establishment tastes by the end of the century

Figure 1: Print of engraving of Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London.  The engraving is by H.Meyer after J. Hoppner R.A.

Christopher Lane, “On the Victorian Afterlife of the 1781 Sunday Observance Act”

Proposed in 1780 to “suppress” the rise of Dissenting and freethinking societies, the Sunday Observance Act was passed in 1781 and adopted across Britain that year. In seeking to encourage Sunday worship, the new law aimed to curb Sunday trading and to prevent the public on such days from visiting parks, museums, zoos, theaters, meeting-houses, and concert halls. The interest of this essay lies in the cultural effects of such legislation, as well as in the figure who proposed it, Bishop Beilby Porteus, and the freethinking philosopher, William Nicholson, who is said to have challenged Porteus and Britain’s episcopacy by detailing the law’s and the Bible’s inconsistencies. The pamphlet attributed to Nicholson, though its authorship remains contested, is called The Doubts of Infidels.

Margaretta S. Frederick, “On Frederic Shields’ Chapel of the Ascension, 1887-1910″

Margaretta S. Frederick, “On Frederic Shields’ Chapel of the Ascension, 1887-1910″

On 26 February 1911, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederic Shields (born 1833) died, having spent the last twenty years of his life devoted to the decoration of the Chapel of the Ascension in Bayswater, London. Conceived of in 1887, completed in 1910, bombed in 1944 during the Blitz of World War II and demolished in 1969, the Chapel represents changing Victorian precepts of religion and faith as well as attitudes towards public art and decoration on the eve of the modern age. Designed by the architect and aesthete Herbert Horne (1864-¬1916) and modeled on thirteenth-century northern Italian church architecture, the chapel design was a reflection of the British rediscovery of the Italian Renaissance during the Victorian period. Shields’ use of the marouflage technique, mimicking continental fresco schemes, reflects a national desire to raise public British art to a level of “high art,” which would ensure it a place in the art historical canon.

Figure 1: William Gladstone

Elsie B. Michie, “On the Sacramental Test Act, the Catholic Relief Act, the Slavery Abolition Act, and the Factory Act”

Examining two sets of intertwined Parliamentary Acts that went into effect before and after the Reform Act of 1832, this entry argues that they make visible the gestures that led up to and resulted from reform.