• The Ecclesiologist

    The Ecclesiologist

    • The Cambridge Camden Society, known from 1845 (when it moved to London) as the Ecclesiological Society, was a learned architectural society founded in 1839 by undergraduate students at Cambridge University to promote "the study of Gothic Architecture, and of Ecclesiastical Antiques." Its activities would come to include publishing a monthly journal, The Ecclesiologist, advising church builders on their blueprints, and advocating a return to a medieval style of church architecture in England. At its peak influence in the 1840s, the society counted over 700 members in its ranks, including bishops of the Church of England, deans at Cambridge University, and Members of Parliament. The society and its publications enjoyed wide influence over the design of English churches throughout the 19th century.

      The society took its name from the 16th-century antiquary and historian William Camden.

      During its twenty-year span, the Cambridge Camden Society and its journal influenced virtually every aspect of the Anglican Church and almost single-handedly reinvented the architectural design of the parish church. The group was responsible for launching some of the first earnest investigations of medieval church design and through its publications invented and shaped the "science" of ecclesiology. Throughout its lifetime, all of the Society's actions had one goal: to return the Church and churches of England to the religious splendour it saw in the Middle Ages. The Cambridge Camden Society held tremendous influence in the architectural and ecclesiastical worlds because of the success of this argument: that the corruption and ugliness of the 19th century could be escaped by the earnest attempt to recapture the piety and beauty of the Middle Ages.

      The society was re-established as the St Paul's Ecclesiological Society in 1879. That society reverted to the old name, the Ecclesiological Society, in 1937.

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    • The Ecclesiologist