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'Long rides over trackless commons and rough roads': The Parochial Visitations of Chancellor Walter Fletcher, 1814 to 1844

Date: 19 February 2014 Time: 17.00.00-19.00.00

Venue: FASS Seminar Room 2/3

Jane Platt, Lancaster University

The popularity of Anglican ritualism since the advent of the Tractarians in the 1830s has made it commonplace for the Georgian Church to be viewed with a certain amount of disdain. Locally, superficial readings of Bishop Nicolson's Miscellany Accounts (1703-4) which tend to light on such terms as 'scandalous', have created a picture of a uniquely backward Carlisle diocese, in which little was attempted or attained. The recent find of the notebook of Walter Fletcher (chancellor of the diocese 1814-46) fills a much-needed gap between the notebooks of eighteenth century clergymen such Nicolson and the ecclesiological notes for Cumbria of Sir Stephen Glynne (1833-72), allowing us a more objective view of the period just before the extension of the diocese in 1856. Fletcher's comments on the 130 churches he examined on his diocesan visitations are of great importance to local historians while they also provide a useful comparison with the visitation notes of other dioceses. The paper discusses Fletcher's findings in relation to local conditions and his High Church background, and employs visitation notes from Leicestershire and Shropshire to explore just how backward Carlisle diocese really was during the first half of the nineteenth century.

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