Queen Victoria’s Archbishops of Canterbury:


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Book Details

Rating: ★★★

Format: Paperback (390 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-056-2

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“Worthy of a Netflix series ... entertaining and readable”
The Church Times

During the reign of Queen Victoria, the Church of England changed remarkably, and many of the institutions that are now a significant part of its life began to take shape. In six engaging mini-biographies, Michael Chandler introduces William Howley (1828–1848), John Bird Sumner (1848–1862), Charles Thomas Longley (1862–1868), Archibald Campbell Tait (1868–1882), Edward White Benson (1883–1896), and Frederick Temple (1896–1902)​, the six men who served as Archbishops of Canterbury under Queen Victoria. He maps out how they not only responded to the ecclesial, social and political concerns of the time, but transformed the Church of England from an established church that largely served its own country to being part of a global church of which former colonies could be equal partners.

Michael Chandler is an historian and author of several books on the Church of England in the nineteenth century. He is a former Dean of Ely and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

The Victorians were a weird bunch, imbued with an enthusiasm, energy, and obsessiveness that seem alien to our louche late-Elizabethan ways. Their Archbishops, as Michael Chandler’s excellent new study shows, were no exception. … The supporting characters are larger than life and worthy of any novel (or Crown-like Netflix series). … This is an exceptionally well-researched piece of scholarship, and is also entertaining and readable. Until we get our Netflix series, this, for me, will sit worthily alongside Chadwick et al. as an annal of the mix of seriousness, strangeness, and the sublime which was the Victorian Church.

Fergus Butler-Gallie, The Church Times

This is an informed, measured and insightful contribution to our understanding of an era which saw the Church of England and Wales move to the centre of national life, and Anglicanism acquire an international identity centred on the See of Canterbury. … In his Introduction, Bishop John Pritchard commends Chandler’s ‘fluent insights, telling anecdotes and well-chosen quotes’. This lightness of touch, coupled with a profound grasp of the historical context, enables him to furnish us with a humane, sympathetic yet objectively critical account of an era in our ecclesiastical history which still impacts on the Church – for better and for worse.

The Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee (former Bishop of Lincoln), Rural Theology

This detailed, erudite book provides good biographies of each [archbishop], probing their personal lives and previous careers, but more importantly showing how the church evolved in policy and character through the 19th century. … This readable and comprehensive work is recommended as a carefully crafted and helpful addition to the history of the Anglican church.

Peter Clough, Transforming Ministry

The mini-biographies provide a useful way in to the great ecclesiastical controversies which accompanied a period of enormous demographic and societal change. … Chandler’s book is a good and accurate introduction to the church history of the period and is easier to read than many textbooks.

Mark Chapman, Modern Believing

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