Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-vh8gq Total loading time: 0.371 Render date: 2022-09-26T01:35:58.650Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 September 2016

Liverpool John Moores University
John Foster Building, Liverpool John Moores, 80–90 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, l3


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.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



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.


1 Henry Walker, ‘Sunday in East London: Victoria Park’, Sunday at Home (1895), pp. 791–5.

2 Morris, Jeffrey, ‘The strange death of Christian Britain: another look at the secularization debate’, Historical Journal, 46 (2003), p. 975 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 For contemporary descriptions of the settlement movement, see Knapp, John M., ed., The universities and the social problem: an account of the university settlements in East London (London, 1895)Google Scholar; and Reason, William, ed., University and social settlements (London, 1898)Google Scholar. For more recent histories of Oxford House, see Seth Koven's chapter on Toynbee Hall and Oxford House in Slumming: sexual and social politics in Victorian London (Princeton, NJ, 2004), pp. 228–88; and Matthews-Jones, Lucinda, ‘St. Francis of Assisi and the making of settlement masculinity, 1880–1914’, in Brady, Sean and Arnold, John, eds., What is masculinity?: historical dynamics from antiquity to the contemporary world (London, 2011), pp. 285303 Google Scholar.

4 Arthur Winnington-Ingram quoted in ‘Meeting at Londonderry House’, Oxford House Chronicle, 6 (1891), p. 6.

5 Koven, Slumming, pp. 228–88. Institutional pamphlets include The Oxford House in Bethnal Green, 1884–1948 (Bethnal Green, 1948); Ashworth, Mandy, The Oxford House of Bethnal Green: 100 years of work in the community (London, 1984)Google Scholar; and Bradley, Ian, Oxford House in Bethnal Green, 1884–1984: 100 years of work in the community: a short history (London, 1984)Google Scholar. Examples of doctoral work include Jennifer R. Harrow, ‘The development of university settlements in England, 1884–1939’ (Ph.D. thesis, London 1987); Seth Koven, ‘Culture and poverty: the London settlement house movement, 1870 to 1914’ (Ph.D. thesis, Harvard, 1987); and Lucinda Matthews-Jones, ‘Centres of brightness: the spiritual imagination of Toynbee Hall and Oxford House, 1883–1914 (Ph.D. thesis, Manchester, 2009).

6 Scotland, Nigel, Squires in the slums: settlements and missions in late-Victorian Britain (London, 2007), pp. 5784 Google Scholar.

7 Hilton, Boyd, The age of atonement: the influence of evangelicalism on social and economic thought (Oxford, 1991), p. 5 Google Scholar.

8 For Oxford House, see Koven, Slumming, pp. 276–81. For Hall, Kingsley, see his The match girl and the heiress (Princeton, NJ, 2014), pp. 137–53Google Scholar.

9 Scotland, Squires, p. 69.

10 Green, S. J. D., Religion in the age of decline: organization and experience in industrial Yorkshire, 1870–1920 (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 294–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Williams, Sarah, Religious belief and popular culture in Southwark, c. 1880–1939 (Oxford, 1999), p. 7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 There is extensive literature on nineteenth-century urban religion, the church, and the working classes. For a traditional account, see Wickham, E. R., Church and people in an industrial city (London, 1964)Google Scholar; and Inglis, K. S., The church and the working classes in Victorian England (Toronto, 1963)Google Scholar. Revisionist accounts include Brown, C., ‘Did urbanization secularize Britain?’, Urban History Yearbook, 15 (1988), pp. 114 Google Scholar; Morris, Jeremy, Religion and urban change: Croydon, 1840–1914 (Woodbridge, 1992)Google Scholar; Green, Religion; Smith, Mark, Religion in industrial society: Oldham and Saddleworth, 1740–1865 (Oxford, 1994)Google Scholar. In contrast, Sarah Williams has argued that historians should consider how the working classes responded to religion in a more informal way in Religious belief.

13 See, for instance, Armstrong, Neil, ‘“I insisted I was myself”: clergy wives and authentic selfhood in England, c. 1960–1994’, Women's History Review, 22 (2013), pp. 9951013 Google Scholar; Colpus, Eve, ‘Lecturing religion, family and memory in nineteenth-century England’, Gender and History, 22 (2010), pp. 3854 Google Scholar; Moore, Lindy, ‘“A notable personality”: Isabella Fyvie Mayo in the public and private spheres of Aberdeen’, Women's History Review, 22 (2013), pp. 239–52Google Scholar.

14 Summerfield, Penny, ‘Concluding thoughts: performance, the self and women's history’, Women's History Review, 22 (2013), pp. 345–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 See Brown, Candy G., ‘Touch and American religions’, Religion Compass, 3 (2009), pp. 770–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Garnett, Jane, Grimley, Matthew, Harris, Alana, Whyte, William, and Williams, Sarah, ‘Performance’, in their edited collection Redefining Christian Britain: post-1945 perspectives (London, 2006), p. 75 Google Scholar.

17 Davies, Sioned, ‘Performing the pulpit: an introduction to lecturing in nineteenth-century Wales’, in Nagy, Joseph Falaky, ed., Identifying the ‘Celtic’: CSANA Yearbook 2 (Dublin, 2002), p. 118 Google Scholar.

18 Ibid., p. 115.

19 Barclay, Kate and Richardson, Sarah, ‘Introduction: performing the self: women's lives in historical perspective’, Women's History Review, 22 (2013), p. 179 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20 Victoria Park, 1907–37, London Metropolitan Archives, GLC/AR/HB/01.

21 Booth, Charles, Life and labour of the people in London: religious influences, i (London, 1902), p. 65 Google Scholar; Booth, Charles, Life and labour of the people in London: religious influences, vi (London, 1902), pp. 80–1Google Scholar.

22 Pall Mall Gazette, 30 Nov. 1887.

23 See Winter, James, London's teeming streets, 1830–1914 (London, 1993)Google Scholar.

24 Johnson, Dale A., ‘Popular apologetics in late Victorian England: the work of the Christian Evidence Society’, Journal of Religious History, 11 (1981), pp. 588–77Google Scholar. On Celestine Edwards, see Schneer, Jonathan, ‘Edwards, (Samuel Jules) Celestine (1857?–1894)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography (Oxford, 2004)Google Scholar.

25 The Eastern Argus & Borough of Hackney Times, 18 Aug. 1894; Lux, 28 June 1895.

26 ‘Sunday afternoon in Victoria Park’, Oxford House Chronicle, 8 (1893), p. 2.

27 Russell, Anthony, The clerical profession (London, 1980), p. 85 Google Scholar.

28 Gunn, Simon, The public culture of the Victorian middle class: ritual and authority in the English industrial city, 1840–1914 (Manchester, 2007), pp. 117–20, quote p. 117Google Scholar.

29 Carpenter, S. C., Winnington Ingram: the biography of Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, bishop of London, 1901–1939 (London, 1949), p. 52 Google Scholar.

30 Edward Winnington-Ingram to Arthur Winnington-Ingram, 29 Oct. 1888, the Fulham papers of Winnington-Ingram, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 3406, fo. 14.

31 Herbert Hensley Henson diary, 11 July 1886, vol. 4, Durham Cathedral, fo. 384.

32 Reed, John Shelton, ‘“Ritualism rampant in East London”: Anglo-Catholicism and the urban poor’, Victorian Studies, 31 (1988), p. 376 Google Scholar.

33 See McLeod, Hugh, Class and religion in the late Victorian city (London, 1975), pp. 80, 112Google Scholar.

34 Russell, Clerical profession, p. 94. See Kelly, Matthew, ‘The politics of Protestant street lecturing in 1890s Ireland’, Historical Journal, 48 (2005), pp. 101–25Google Scholar; and Holmes, Janice, ‘The role of open-air lecturing in the Belfast riots of 1857’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 102 (2002), pp. 4766 Google Scholar; Hewitt, Martin, ‘Arthur Mursell and the controversies of popular platform religion in Manchester, 1856–1865’, Manchester Region History Review, 10 (1996), pp. 2940 Google Scholar.

35 Grimwood, Tom and Yeandle, Peter, ‘Church on/as stage: Stewart Headlam's rhetorical theology’, in Edelman, Joshua, Chambers, Claire, and du Toit, Simon, eds., Performing religion in public (London, 2014)Google Scholar.

36 Hebert Hensley Henson dairy, 11 July 1886, vol. 4, Durham Cathedral, fo. 385.

37 Ibid., fo. 381.

38 Adderley, James, In slums and society (New York, NY, 1916), p. 85 Google Scholar.

39 See also Whyte, ‘Performance’, pp. 84–91.

40 See Green, Religion, p. 301.

41 Carpenter, Winnington-Ingram, p. 52.

42 Blackman, Lisa, The body: key concepts (London, 2008), p. 86 Google Scholar.

43 Burns, Arthur, ‘“My unfortunate parish”: Anglican urban ministry in Bethnal Green, 1809–c. 1850’, in Barber, Mel and Taylor, S. with Sewell, Gabrielle, eds., From the Reformation to the permissive society: a miscellany in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Lambeth Palace Library (London, 2010), p. 272 Google Scholar.

44 Booth, Life and labour, i, p. 76.

45 See Sexby, J. J., The municipal parks, gardens and open spaces of London: their history and association (London, 1905)Google Scholar. There is an extensive literature on working-class experiences of parks that challenge the idea that they were spaces of social control and order; see Malchow, H. L., ‘Public gardens and social action in late Victorian London’, Victorian Studies, 29 (1985), pp. 97124 Google Scholar; Wybourn, Theresa, ‘Parks for the people: the development of public parks in Victorian Manchester’, Manchester Regional History Review, 9 (1995), pp. 314 Google Scholar; Conway, Hazel, People's parks: the design and development of Victorian parks in Britain (Cambridge, 1995)Google Scholar.

46 Winnington-Ingram, Arthur, Work in great cities: six lectures on pastoral theology delivered in the Divinity School, Cambridge Easter Term, 1895 (London, 1897), p. 13 Google Scholar.

47 Ibid.

48 Walker, ‘Sunday’, p. 794.

49 McLeod, Class, p. 28.

50 Brown, Callum G., The death of Christian Britain: understanding secularisation, 1800–2000 (London, 2002)Google Scholar.

51 Morgan, Simon, ‘Seen but not heard? Women's platforms, respectability and female publics in the mid-nineteenth century’, Nineteenth Century Prose, 29 (2002), p. 50 Google ScholarPubMed.

52 Booth, Charles, Life and labour of the people in London, viii (London, 1891), p. 80 Google Scholar.

53 Booth, Charles, ‘Condition and occupations of the people of East London and Hackney’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 51 (1888), pp. 276339 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

54 Barclay and Richardson, ‘Introduction’, p. 178.

55 Arthur Winnington-Ingram, The Church of England: a godly heritage: a sermon lectured at the Weymouth Congress (London, 1905[?]), pp. 3–4.

56 Walker, ‘Sunday’, p. 791.

57 See ‘Sunday Lecture Society’, Oxford House Chronicle, 13 (1891), p. 4.

58 ‘“The Park” on Sunday’, Oxford House Chronicle, 8 (1894), p. 7.

59 Koven, Slumming, p. 279.

60 ‘Victoria Park open-air lectures’, Oxford House Chronicle, 13 (1899), p. 5.

61 Blathwayth, Raymond, ‘The bishop of London: an appreciation’, Quiver, 61 (1904), p. 5 Google Scholar.

62 Adderley, In slums and society, pp. 85–6.

63 Winnington-Ingram, Arthur, Why am I a Christian? (London, 1929), p. 49 Google Scholar.

64 For a contemporary discussion of these groups, J. H. Rosny, ‘Socialism in London’, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 76 (1888), p. 412. See also Fisherman, William J., East End 1888: a year in a London borough among the labouring poor (London, 1988), pp. 267–8Google Scholar.

65 Winnington-Ingram, Arthur, Fifty years in London, 1889–1939 (London, 1940), pp. 89 Google Scholar; Blathwayth, ‘The bishop of London’, p. 5.

66 Winnington-Ingram, Arthur, The mysteries of God (Milwaukee, WI, 1910), p. 260 Google Scholar.

67 ‘Miss Weston on the navy’, Sunday at Home (June 1894), p. 560.

68 Winnington-Ingram, Arthur, The gospel in action (Milwaukee, WI, 1906), p. 171 Google Scholar.

69 Winnington-Ingram, The mysteries of God, p. 260.

70 Blathwayth, ‘The bishop of London’, p. 6.

71 Ibid., p. 6.

72 Bevir, Mark, ‘The immanentist pulpit and reformist pulpit’, in Hewitt, Martin, ed., Platform – pulpit – rhetoric (Leeds, 2000), p. 139 Google Scholar.

73 Winnington-Ingram, Why, p. 103.

74 Winnington-Ingram, The mysteries of God, p. 262.

75 Herbert Hensley Henson diary, 11 July 1886, vol. 4, Durham Cathedral.

76 See Garnett et al., Redefining, p. 79.

77 Herbert Hensley Henson diary, 11 July 1886, vol. 4, Durham Cathedral, fo. 384.

78 Winnington-Ingram, Why, p. 34.

79 Vincent, David, Bread, knowledge and freedom: a study of nineteenth-century working-class autobiography (London, 1981), pp. 180–1Google Scholar.

80 Douglas, James, The man in the pulpit (London, 1905), p. 12 Google Scholar.

81 Herbert, Charles, Twenty-five years as bishop of London (London, 1926), p. 61 Google Scholar.

82 Winnington-Ingram, Why, p. 132.

83 Colpus, ‘Lecturing’, p. 40.

84 Nead, Lynda, ‘Mapping the self: gender, space and modernity in mid-Victorian London’, in Porter, Roy, ed., Rewriting the self: histories from the Renaissance to the present (London, 1997), p. 167 Google Scholar.

85 Dixon, Joy, ‘Modernity, heterodoxy, and the transformation of religious cultures’, in de Vries, Jacqueline and Morgan, Sue, eds., Women, gender and religious cultures (London, 2010), pp. 211–30Google Scholar.

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *