Local Victoriana: what’s a word worth?

I happened to be in my local parish church this week, it’s a good one to look around.

It’s very old and parts dating back to the 12th century.OK it is somewhat before our Victorian era but what it does have are plaques and monuments on the walls to the great and good (and wealthy probably).

Being a Christian myself I am fascinated to see how the Victorians lived out their faith, indeed some seemed to draw such deep strength from it and lived with such assuredness.

The Christian church in the Victorian Era changed, the middle classes who had become both wealthy and powerful through the industrial revolution and they like the landed gentry before them had their own value system of morals and conduct.

Catholicism was whilst generally accepted was very small and The Church of England was part of the old guard putting forward an aristocratic set of values which left this new class wanting more.

Of course nowadays some 40,000 denominations has grown from the protestant church but at the time a small stream of nonconformist denominations grew up. There was Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Quaker, all of which survive in one shape or another today.

So buildings by these denominations were being erected in order to meet the demands of the now the quickly growing populations. All these new churches and in truth they pews were probably never all filled, but there was a revival of the Christian faith which can be seen in much of the literature of the time.

“But so far was this city church languishing for the company of other churches, that spires were clustered round it . . . It would have been hard to count them fromfrom its steeple-top, they were so many. In almost every yard and blind-place near, there was a church . . . ” Charles Dickens ‘Dombey and Son.

And these Church erected remembrances with many of these denominations. The one above I spied is in memory one Rev Alfred Williams M.A former Vicar of All Saints Church who ‘entered rest on April 26th 1877 aged 58 years’, it reads:

He was preeminently a man of strong faith, fervent prayer, spirituality of mind and indefatigable zeal. Endowed with a sterling manliness of character. Free from all fear of man, singleminded in his objects and aims, of an unflinching integrity of purpose and inspired with the constraining love of Christ and a desire for The Glory of God and the salvation of souls. He was ever most unremitting and loving in His self sacrificing labours for the good of all. 

What a wonderful thing to write about someone, if someone were to write half of that about me I would be well pleased!