After the Primitive Christians

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Joint Liturgical Studies 37

The Eighteenth-Century  Anglican Eucharist in its Architectural Setting

Church buildings of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are not well understood. Pugin and his Anglican disciples saw the classical buildings of Gibbs, Hawksmoor, and even Wren as essentially pagan; they despised what they saw as the lukewarm spirit of eighteenth century Anglicanism, and even when church fashions escaped the hegemony of the gothic revival, classical churches were too often seen through the lenses of contemporary Roman Catholic practice; Anglican churches were redecorated and used accordingly (as at Wren’s Church of St Magnus the Martyr). Since the Second World War, some of Wren’s churches which survived have been re-ordered according to the lights of the modern liturgical movement. The most extreme example of this latest trend is the rearrangement of his Church of St Stephen, Walbrook, in the City of London, where a round, central altar by the sculptor Henry Moore has been installed in the midst of seating in the round. At the root of all these attitudes to churches of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is an ignorance of the principles underlying the design of these churches, especially contemporary liturgical and particularly eucharistic theology.

Peter Doll