Thursday, March 09, 2006

Publication of the Ecclesiological Society

According to Wikipedia,
"The Cambridge Camden Society, known also as the "Ecclesiological Society", was a learned architectural society founded in 1839 by undergraduates at Cambridge University to promote "the study of Gothic Architecture, and of Ecclesiastical Antiques." Its activities would come to include publishing a monthly journal, The Ecclesiologist, advising church builders on their blueprints, and advocating a return to a medieval style of church architecture in England. At its peak influence in the 1840s, the Society counted over 700 members in its ranks, including bishops of the Church of England, deans at Cambridge University, and Members of Parliament. The Society and its publications enjoyed wide influence over the design of English churches throughout the 19th century.

"During its twenty-year span, the Cambridge Camden Society and its Ecclesiologist influenced virtually every aspect of the Anglican Church and almost single-handedly reinvented the architectural design of the parish church. The group was responsible for launching some of the first earnest investigations of medieval church design and through its publications invented and shaped the "science" of ecclesiology. Throughout its lifetime, all of the Society's actions had one goal: to return the Church and churches of England to the religious splendor it saw in the Middle Ages. The Cambridge Camden Society held tremendous influence in the architectural and ecclesiastical worlds because of the success of this argument: that the corruption and ugliness of the 19th century could be escaped by the earnest attempt to recapture the piety and beauty of the Middle Ages."
These are folks after my own heart. A "horizontal" church leads to lack of piety, while "perpendicularity" leads the soul upward.

The society was inspired by John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement, which wanted to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. He later swam the Tiber and became a Catholic Cardinal.

One of the Society's publication is available online:

THE SYMBOLISM OF Churches and Church Ornaments; A TRANSLATION OF THE FIRST BOOK OF THE Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, WRITTEN BY WILLIAM DURANDUS, SOMETIME BISHOP OF MENDE. WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY, NOTES, AND ILLUSTRATIONS: http://anglicanhistory.org/neale/durandus

A few articles from their magazine, The Ecclesiologist are found here: http://anglicanhistory.org/ecclesiologist/.

The society disliked the increasing degradation of the Church of England, yet also thought that the contemporary Catholic Church lacked the nobility it had during the High Middle Ages. The reforms had their intended effect, and only faltered after the rise of Liberal Christianity in the late 19th century, which in turn was countered by the great Anglo-Catholic writers of the early 20th century, who are still read today.

Is anyone interested in starting a New Ecclesiological Society? The time is right!

Thanks to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping for suggesting this topic.

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