The Church of England and Victorian Oxford: The History of the Oxford Churchmen's Union, 1860–1890 explores key questions about the Victorian Church. How did it respond to challenges, what was the role of Tractarian clergy and laity, and to what extent did the Church’s effort to prove its continuing relevance and usefulness involve compromise? The author uses the Oxford Churchmen’s Union to investigate these matters in a new and integrated way. The OCU participated in Church defense and developed outreach programs. Men were to be brought into the Church through lectures and classes, concerts, sporting events, Christmas parties, and summer excursions, but for many OCU members, the social and recreational became more important than the religious side of the enterprise. Moreover, the Union was born in controversy, because its founders included Tractarians and others looked upon it with suspicion. Controversy also surrounded the OCU’s non-religious activities. There was a sense that leisure and amusement, if they prompted a departure from a strict focus on self-improvement, ought to be shunned, yet this was an age in which pleasure was to some degree divested of its traditional association with sin. This academic study in Church history uses the Union to elucidate the religious, social, and political conditions within which the Church and its supporters had to operate.
Michael J. Turner is Roy Carroll Distinguished Professor of British History at Appalachian State University, North Carolina.
Chapter One: The Church of England in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter Two: Victorian Oxford
Chapter Three: The Establishment of the Oxford Churchmen’s Union
Chapter Four: The OCU in the Wider Church
Chapter Five: Doing “Higher Work”
Chapter Six: Leadership and Administration
Chapter Seven: Reform to Survive and Prosper
Chapter Eight: Social and Recreational Opportunities
About the Author
Based on extensive archival work, this book is the first account of the Oxford Churchmen’s Union which sought to ensure that the Church of England was able to make a deeper impression on the lives of a far wider range of people than the well-to-do and affluent. With meticulous detail and covering clergy and laity from across the church parties, as well as a wide range of different activities both inside and outside the church, Turner offers many fascinating vignettes into the history of Victorian Oxford, a city that was to have such a profound impact on the wider Church and society both in England and beyond.