A Vicar in Vic­to­rian Nor­folk; Life & Times of Ben­jamin Arm­strong (18171890)

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Su­sanna WadeMartins, £25, Boy­dell, 9781783273300

The Rev Arm­strong is among those eru­dite clergy who kept di­aries that for so­cial his­to­ri­ans are a mine of in­for­ma­tion about their lives and times. Vicar of East Dere­ham, his di­aries cover the years 1850-1888 and this is the first full bi­og­ra­phy of this in­ter­est­ing gentle­man. Life in Bri­tain was chang­ing fast and the Vic­to­rian church went through tur­moil, as High and Low church fac­tions, the rise of non-con­formism and Dar­win’s The­ory caused con­flict. Be­ing on as­sorted boards for schools and so­ci­eties and with a full so­cial life, Arm­strong painted a pic­ture of so­ci­ety and Nor­folk as it was. By the time he re­tired, more than 1,000 peo­ple of­ten at­tended his Sun­day ser­vices.

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