Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Iconoclasm in the Long English Reformation

From Once I Was a Clever Boy, some notes on iconoclasm, the destruction of religious images, during the Long English Reformation (I corrected some typos):

I pointed to four main phases of iconoclasm in this country. These firstly are the period 1536-1539 when the monasteries were dissolved and there was the attack of shrines and relics, and especially on the cult of St Thomas of Canterbury. Secondly there is the period from 1548 to 1553 under the Edwardian reform which saw the attack on veneration of the Virgin Mary, the dissolution of the chantries, liturgical change with the imposition of the First and Second Prayer books in 1549 and 1552 and the expropriation of church goods in 1552. Thirdly there was an outbreak of image breaking in the period after 1559 when the Elizabethan settlement was brought in. This lasted until about 1562, but was followed by neglect and abandonment - notably the cessation of worship in the chancels of churches and their consequent appropriation for seating. The fourth phase is that in the First Civil War of 1642 to 1646, with attacks on cathedrals such as Canterbury, Lincoln, Peterborough, and Worchester, and the activities of people such as William Dowsing in East Anglia, who went round destroying the relics of Popery in the parish churches of the region.

All this was followed by two centuries of neglect, before the nineteenth century got to work restoring (sometimes too enthusiastically it has to be said) and conserving our medieval heritage.

This will be a series of posts, so follow it here.

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