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September 27 , 2009

The Victorian Parson


The Victorian parson is an unsung hero. Legend and literature portray him as a buffoon or a charlatan; at best, he is the bearer of a thin veneer of piety as a cover for hypocrisy, and it is true that stories of louche, lazy or plain loony vicars are easy to come by. However, amid the unprecedented technological and commercial turmoil of the nineteenth century, the Church moved to the centre of the nation's affairs and took on new and important responsibilities. Campaigning for new schools, healthier living conditions and providing humanitarian values, the vicar became the champion for the lower classes despite remote and hostile communities, churches that were barely fit for purpose and uncooperative local landowners. With a wealth of diary entries and other first-hand accounts, this beautifully written history sees society from the viewpoint of the parson at the centre of his community - a community in the throes of economic, spiritual, architectural, social and scientific revolution.

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