The Reformation of the English Parish Church

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In the sixteenth century, the people of England witnessed the physical transformation of their most valued buildings: their parish churches. This is the first ever full-scale investigation of the dramatic changes experienced by the English parish church during the English Reformation. By drawing on a wealth of documentary evidence, including court records, wills and church wardens' accounts, and by examining the material remains themselves - such as screens, fonts, paintings, monuments, windows and other artefacts - found in churches today, Robert Whiting reveals how, why and by whom these ancient buildings were transformed. He explores the reasons why Catholics revered the artefacts found in churches as well as why these objects became the subject of Protestant suspicion and hatred in subsequent years. This richly illustrated account sheds new light on the acts of destruction as well as the acts of creation that accompanied religious change over the course of the 'long' Reformation.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a lavishly illustrated follow-up to his 1998 book Local Responses to the English Reformation." -H-Albion, Katherine French

"The modest title of this book conceals the fact that Robert Whiting has provided a cutting-edge contribution to the study of the English Reformation… [It] looks at the material evidence, the mute but eloquent testimony of the thousands of parish churches still standing from before the 16th century. Reflecting recent historical interest in material culture, the text adds an important dimension to the Reformation debate." -Lucy Wooding, Times Higher Education

"We can stand back and marvel at the scope of the author's achievement … Now we discover what Dr Whiting has spent the past 12 years doing: acquiring an amazingly detailed knowledge of England's parish churches, and of how they changed between 1530 and 1640, so that he can read the story of the Reformation as it was inscribed in those churches' fabric … This is a book which will be enjoyed most as a box of treasures, a guide to the marvels still hidden away in England's parish churches … As a guide to what survives, to what was lost, and why, this book has no rival." -Alec Ryrie, The Tablet

"Robert Whiting’s meticulous investigation of these changes [to the interiors of parish churches]offers both in-depth descriptions of these works of art, furniture, and other goods as well as analyses of the motivations that led parishioners to jettison once favored objects while they embraced new ones... a valuable guide to the material transformations of England’s parish churches over many decades, with abundant details about artifacts themselves as well as the churchwardens, donors, artisans, and other people who effected or resisted these alterations." - Kathleen Kamerick, Journal of British Studies

"meticulously researched, packed with useful information, and beautifully illustrated." -Peter Marshall, Times Literary Supplement

"a wonderful guidebook to the various and often unfamiliar aspects of the interior design and decor of English churches during the Reformation that will be of use to scholars and students alike." -Ronald H.Fritze, The Historian

"In answer to that age-old undergraduate question of what English churches looked like before the Reformaion, Robert Whiting provides elegant answers lavishly illustrated with his own photographs. This book, intended for the student and general reader as opposed to the professional academic, opens the doors of parish churches to the art, architecture, and material culture of English Catholicism and Protestantism." -Jennifer Mori, Canadian Journal of History

"...this book is an interesting and useful study of both continuity and change in one of the central institutions of life in Tudor England." -Karl Gunther, The Journal of Modern History

"...a captivating study of the material culture of Reformation-era Christianity in England." -Daniel MacLeod, Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521762861
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Whiting is Principal Lecturer in History at the University of York St John. His previous publications include The Blind Devotion of the People (1989) and Local Responses to the English Reformation (1998).
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations ix

Introduction xiii

Part 1 Ritual Requirements 1

1 Defining the spaces: screens 3

2 Presenting the sacrifices: altars 21

3 Washing the sins: fonts 36

4 Serving the sacraments: plate 53

5 Adorning the rites: cloth 71

6 Providing the words: books 85

7 Preserving the treasures: receptacles 99

Part 2 Additional Components 117

8 Depicting the faith: paintings 119

9 Lighting the darkness: glass 135

10 Embodying the holy: images 149

11 Creating the music: organs and bells 167

12 Conveying the message: pulpits and seats 182

13 Raising the levels: galleries 199

14 Recalling the dead: memorials 211

Conclusion 229

Appendices 238

Notes 250

Bibliography and abbreviations 271

Index 284

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