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Churches and Chapels since the Reformation

30th May 2017 | Clubs, Local History Society


by Wickhambrook History Society

The May meeting saw a welcome return of Tony Kirby. His talk “Churches and Chapels since the Reformation”, illustrated by slides of East Anglia, was full of interest. The period 1530-1560 saw a 1,000 years of religious building destroyed with the destruction of abbeys and monasteries. The existing parish churches had their interior walls whitewashed and statues vandalised, the emphasis now being on “the word” not ritual. Pulpits became more prominent and communion services rarely held. Legacies were now used to build almshouses, found schools and build memorials to the great and the good, as a result church buildings suffered from lack of money. Meanwhile, from the end of the 16th century the nonconformist or dissident movement was growing with itinerant preachers visiting chapels often in farmhouses or barns. These chapels always had a prominent, raised, central pulpit from which the preacher could make eye contact with the worshippers. Hymns were an important part of the services unlike in Anglican churches.

The 19th century saw a resurgence in church building when Government money, The Million Act, was used to build new churches to cater for the rapidly rising populations in the new industrialised towns and cities. These were built in the Gothic style and known in some areas as Waterloo churches. Chapels were also becoming more prominent often rivalling the Anglican churches in size as the laws excluding nonconformists from professions were relaxed. This was a well presented, knowledgeable talk by Tony.

Gillian reminded everyone of the outings to Lincoln in June and Gressenhall in July.

Dorothy Anderson
Chairman, Local History Society
History Recorder for Wickhambrook

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