AGORA

The Decent Church that Topped the Neighbouring Hill: C. M. Yonge and the Parish Church - Constructing a Conservative Community

Rosemary MITCHELL

This paper, as part of of a broader project of the character of the conservative imagination in the works of of lesser-known writers and painters including Lord John Manners, Daniel Maclise, and Alfred Austin, will consider Yonge’s representation of the parish church as a site for the construction of a Traditional Tory community, particularly in a natural setting.

Key themes will be: 1) Naturalising the social order: how Yonge linked the religious rituals and practices of the Church  to the natural rhythms and cycle of the agricultural calendar, and represented the natural world as symbolic of religious truth and social order. 2) Historicising the social order: how Yonge represented the church as a continuous presence in rural lives and landscapes, eliding or reversing discontinuities such as the Reformation. 3) Situating the social order: how Yonge figured the parish church as the physical heart of the community and its spaces as the site for the reiteration of the “chain of being”: quite literally the place where social order was built.

Keywords : parish church, religion, social order, natural order.

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