Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 September 2016
This article considers how lecturing in Victoria Park in the East End of London allowed three early heads of the university settlement Oxford House to engage local communities in a discussion about the place of religion in the modern world. It demonstrates how park lecturing enabled James Adderley, Hebert Hensley Henson, and Arthur Winnington-Ingram, all of whom also held positions in the Church of England, to perform and test out their religious identities. Open-air lecturing was a performance of religious faith for these settlement leaders. It allowed them to move beyond the institutional spaces of the church and the settlement house in order to mediate their faith in the context of open discussion and debate about religion and modern life. The narratives they constructed in and about their park sermons reveal a good deal about how these early settlement leaders imagined themselves as well as their relationship with the working-class men they hoped to reach through settlement work. A vivid picture of Victorian religious and philanthropic life emerges in their accounts of lecturing in Victoria Park.
I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the Historical Journal for their helpful suggestions. I would like to acknowledge the help of Julie-Marie Strange and Bertrand Taithe when this was a Ph.D. chapter. Mike Benbough-Jackson, Diana Maltz, and James Mansell kindly read this chapter and offered comments. I would especially like to thank the late Neil Armstrong for his generous support and advice on earlier drafts and for encouraging me with this research.
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