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100 years ago: Dean Church’s centenary

01 May 2015

April 30th, 1915

LAST Sunday was the centenary of the birth of a great ecclesiastic, whom the Church of England cannot too greatly honour. Most of us knew Dr Richard William Church as Dean of St Paul's from 1871 to 1890, in which capacity he won our reverence for the great part he bore in transforming the Cathedral and making it the centre of life and activity not only for London but, in a way, for the whole of the English Communion. But the debt we owe him was earliest incurred seventy-one years ago, when, in 1844, the youthful Fellow of Oriel confronted the Doctors and Masters of Oxford with the formula never more memorably employed in their assembly - Nobis Procuratoribus non placet - and so the plague ceased. The friend and disciple of Newman, he nevertheless stood firm when the shock of such a master's departure would have tempted a weaker man away, and, like Pusey, Church remained a steadying influence.

From the obscurity of a country parish, with which he would have been more than content to the end of his life, he made that influence widely felt. As one of the founders of the Guardian and a constant contributor to its columns, he helped to extend the Catholic Revival on broader lines than those of the Tractarian Movement, though on the same principles. In the ecclesiastical controversies of his day, involving as they did a fierce conflict with lawyers and politicians bent on subjugating the Church to the State, his sane judgment, combined with his inflexible adherence to principle, commanded the assent of innumerable followers. To this activity in Church affairs he joined the fine culture of a man of letters. . .

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