Hursley church shows us typical ideas about Christianity and church building ideas that were held by most people in Victorian England

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Last updated: November 19, 2020

As there is not much left on Hursley we can only take a guess on what it actually looked like. Although we can make a fairly good guess at what it did actually look like, we can do this because of a church that was constructed roughly around the same time; St. Mary’s at Avington. St. Mary’s is similar in a lot of ways.

We know that these two churches are very similar because, firstly, No.3 was built with all the main features you would expect from a church at that time, and secondly, the church was built around the 1750s’, all of these features link well with Avington and how it was built. We have to have a good look at St. Mary’s to work out what church 3 looked like.There are blocks at the bottom of the windows and the windows on this church are Semi-circular, both of these things are major features, and are very typical of what churches would have looked around in the 1750s’.

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If we looked outside of Hursley you will be able see the keystones used at the top of the windows. The Avington’s crucifix is very small and there isn’t much sign of Christianity here, so we can only guess that Hursley was the same. The church isn’t built of brick, but stone, therefore this suggests the classical period. If there were to be pulpit at Avington it would have taken up most of the room. At Avington, the box pew system was in effect, therefore all the rich and noble people were at the front and the less important at the back. But as we know this became a bit risky because of the French revolution.The two main things that changed the Church of England between 1750 and 1840 were the French revolution and the Industrial revolution.

The French Revolution was the uprising importance of the lower class, and the decreasing importance of the upper classes. The guillotine was introduced to cut off the heads of the royals and the nobles of France. They would execute royals, nobles, barons dukes. But, the most recognised lower class men was Napoleon, who came up to become the emperor of France.

Then there was the battle of ‘Waterloo’ in 1815, which was a major fight between England and France. After this happened the box pew system of the rich and noble people at the front and the ‘riff raff’ at the back slowly deteriorated and the beautiful pictures and memorials of the upper class people were taken down as there were roomers of a same revolution about to happen in England. The other major factor of change was the Industrial revolution. This took over three major cities in England, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The population in these cities would now be about 400,000. The parishes in these churches could be 50 000 plus, this made Hursley and Avington seem very insignificant.In 1833 factory inspectors stopped slavery in factories.

They also set up Universities for non church of England boys, and as you can imagine this made some people upset. In 1829, there was catholic emancipation, this meant that not as many people were gong to church as they used to. This was the time when John Keble began to lose faith in were the people of England were going.A.W.

N. Pugin was part of the Gothic revival. He designed many things, such as the Houses of Parliament, which as you can see, have a very gothic exterior. Pugin had a very strong basic belief, he much preferred it when everyone was a catholic and there was nothing different, this period was about five hundred years ago. He believed England was much better off before the reformation, this was when Henry viii broke up with the Church of England.The first picture is full of industrial chimneys, and workhouses etc, this is what he hated the most, when people die in this they would be dissected. Unemployed people were sent to work houses here, all of this he despisedIn the second it shows spires of churches pointing high in thesky, this symbolises worship of God, this was around 1440 when England wasa good place to live. The same city, in 1840, there is industrial buildings andChimneys instead of spires, there was a small chapel but it was fake or bogusSo he hated it.

There is an old medieval church with pointy windows and ismade of stone, so he likes or respects it. John Keble was a priest and a lecturerat oxford in 1830. He set up the Oxford movement; this was a group of Churchof England priests who protested at the government.Hursley church shows very well Keble’s ideas about Christian architecture and church building.

A lot of his ideas are put into this church, such as, the altar for the priest to look the most important person in the church, it is almost used as a stage for the priest, and so all the eyes are focused on him.Keble built Hursley like most other important churches, by this I mean that, for instance, it is focused on the east, I mean that the altar, grand stained glass windows, chancel and pulpit are here. Around the sides of the church is has carved pictures of the saints, and in the stained glass windows, it tells the story of the bible, and how Jesus died on the cross.

The designer who designed Hursley’s d�cor was AWN Pugin, so this church Is very much gothic driven in its design, as were most churches in this period. Around the church, there is a classical building, this is the mausoleum, the mausoleum is where dead bodies are stored in graves like pizza ovens lined with lead. This building does not reflect Keble’s ideas in Christian church building.

The interior is heavily decorated with Christian architecture; this is typical of Keble’s ideas. The ceiling of the church is very dark and mysterious, with angels carved in wood looking down on the nave. The ceiling Is supported by big, grand beams, in which, were they are joined at the wall have a “boss”, which is a piece of decorated structural material. The interior of Hursley church isn’t heavily decorated, accept for certain key places, the reason why it isn’t heavily decorated, is because Keble didn’t have enough money for it all. Also Keble had to cover up the brick with stone to make it look how he wanted it, he could only cover it up because he didn’t have enough money again.At Hursley Christ is the key image to look at.

The windows at Hursley are typical of what the windows in that period would have looked like, they are Semi-circular, and are decorated very well. They are stained glass and all of the windows round the side of the church tell the story of Christ dying on the cross. The pillars in the church are also typical of that period; they have a base, capitol and Christian carvings just before the top.

A main reason for Keble building this church was to boost Christianity and to get people back to church, and he also thought properly designed churches would bring people back to church. Pugin used Decorated style; he believed this was the purest form of Christian architecture. Keble cut everything classical from the church.

Keble believed the priest was very important, therefore should be raised above the crowd and to be dressed in grand robes. Communion is a main event at this church every Sunday, In which the priest performs a miracle. A font is also here, this is used for baptisms.

So this church shows Keble’s ideas about Christianity and church buildings very well.Hursley is and is not a gothic revival church. So how typical was Gothic Revival? Gothic revival was becoming interesting in 1840. William Beckford was very rich from this architecture. Gothic Revival was around before Pugin, the Hospital and Guildhall in Winchester are Gothic revival.

So, were there any other styles used for new Victorian churches and new buildings? The answer is yes. Venetian gothic, like the guildhall, Byzantine gothic, like Westminster cathedral. St. Stephens Westminster built 1846, so the same time as Hursley. This is a dominant style .So there could be many debates about whether Hursley church was a typical new Victorian church.

I have now come to the conclusion that Keble’s ides and planning for Hursley church number 4 were not typical at all. Their ideas were not typical because the Oxford movement was such a small group, so the ideas never became typical. Many other Christians just thought that Oxford movement members were just Roman Catholics in disguise, so they did not like them. The Oxford movement’s main aim was to get people back to church.

And so, Keble was part of the Oxford movement. In the 1870s they were upset to see the Church of England being pushed around, so they thought bringing back things, and bringing in new things would help. Oxford movement believed that Jesus died for everyone, but Broad church Christians thought you should just listen to the Priest’s sermons, instead of having communion every week.These new ideas were Oxford movement ideas, these were: Apostolic succession, Priests are special, Holy Communion, emotion and feeling about Jesus’ sacrifice.To get people back to church, they believed they had to make priests special.

They gave them big robes, a big alter, chancel, sanctuary, and AWN Pugin tiles. They made people believe that they thought Jesus himself was talking, and performs a miracle when he does Communion, and that priests, who ultimately have been blessed by St. Peter, have blessed priests.

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