Clergymen of the Victorian Church

A guide to roles, ambition, titles, politics, service and hierarchy in the Church of England of Trollope’s day.

The Victorian church provides the backdrop to several of Trollope’s works. Novels such as The Warden and Barchester Towers are set at a time when the Church of England was the predominant force in the religious life of the nation. During this period the Ecclesiastical Commission of 1836 equalized the stipends of the bishops; the Pluralities Act of 1838 limited the number of parish livings to two and bishops’ powers to enforce residence were strengthened. Many of these changes are reflected in the storylines of Trollope’s novels.

In this online Zoom talk Chris Skilton will outline the context of the Victorian church in the mid Victorian period and provide answers to such questions as:

  • ‘what is the difference between a vicar and a rector?’
  • ‘what are canons and prebendaries?’ and
  • ‘what are the roles of a bishop, dean and archdeacon?’.

Chris Skilton is a former Archdeacon of Croydon and Archdeacon of Lambeth. He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge and ordained in 1981. After curacies at Ealing and Wimborne he became Team Vicar of St Paul’s Great Baddow. From 1995 to 2003 he was the Team Rector of Sanderstead.

Illustration: Vintage engraving of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. ‘Not a brawler’, from Vanity Fair 1869. Chromolithograph. An English bishop in the Church of England, known as Soapy Sam, Wilberforce was one of the greatest public speakers of his day.