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The Beauty of Holiness

Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina

Louis P. Nelson

Publication Year: 2009

Intermingling architectural, cultural, and religious history, Louis Nelson reads Anglican architecture and decorative arts as documents of eighteenth-century religious practice and belief. In ###The Beauty of Holiness#, he tells the story of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina, revealing how the colony's Anglicans negotiated the tensions between the persistence of seventeenth-century religious practice and the rising tide of Enlightenment thought and sentimentality. Nelson begins with a careful examination of the buildings, grave markers, and communion silver fashioned and used by early Anglicans. Turning to the religious functions of local churches, he uses these objects and artifacts to explore Anglican belief and practice in South Carolina. Chapters focus on the role of the senses in religious understanding, the practice of the sacraments, and the place of beauty, regularity, and order in eighteenth-century Anglicanism. The final section of the book considers the ways church architecture and material culture reinforced social and political hierarchies. Richly illustrated with more than 250 architectural images and photographs of religious objects, ###The Beauty of Holiness# depends on exhaustive fieldwork to track changes in historical architecture. Nelson imaginatively reconstructs the history of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina and its role in public life, from its early years of ambivalent standing within the colony through the second wave of Anglicanism beginning in the early 1750s. Louis Nelson's PULPITS, PIETY, AND POWER tells the story of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina and examines how the colony's Anglicans negotiated the tensions between the fervency of seventeenth-century doctrinal rhetoric and the rising tide of Enlightenment thought and sentimentality. Nelson traces Anglican experience from its early years of ambivalent standing within the colony, through its years of crisis in the Stono Rebellion, the great fire of Charleston in 1740, and the influence of George Whitefield, to the second wave of Anglicanism beginning in the early 1750s. Weaving evidence from architecture, religious objects, and other material expressions of religious culture together with the documentary record, this book offers a unique look at a complex world of overlapping spheres of knowledge and experience. The first section situates Anglican churches in the tensions between the local and the cosmopolitan that shaped so much of colonial life in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Turning to the religious functions of the Anglican churches, the second section examines Anglican belief and practice by exploring the ways early eighteenth-century Anglican architecture perpetuated seventeenth-century theologies and ways of knowing. The final section looks at the ways Anglicans used their material environment to shape and control their social, economic, and political landscapes. Intermingling architectural, cultural, and religious history, Nelson reads Anglican architecture and decorative arts as documents of 18th-century religious practice and belief. Richly illustrated with more than 250 architectural images and photographs of religious objects, ###The Beauty of Holiness# depends on exhaustive fieldwork to track changes in historical architecture. Nelson imaginatively reconstructs the history of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina and its role in public life, from its early years of ambivalent standing within the colony through the second wave of Anglicanism beginning in the early 1750s. Intermingling architectural, cultural, and religious history, Louis Nelson reads Anglican architecture and decorative arts as documents of eighteenth-century religious practice and belief. In ###The Beauty of Holiness#, he tells the story of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina, revealing how the colony's Anglicans negotiated the tensions between the persistence of seventeenth-century religious practice and the rising tide of Enlightenment thought and sentimentality. Nelson begins with a careful examination of the buildings, grave markers, and communion silver fashioned and used by early Anglicans. Turning to the religious functions of local churches, he uses these objects and artifacts to explore Anglican belief and practice in South Carolina. Chapters focus on the role of the senses in religious understanding, the practice of the sacraments, and the place of beauty, regularity, and order in eighteenth-century Anglicanism. The final section of the book considers the ways church architecture and material culture reinforced social and political hierarchies. Richly illustrated with more than 250 architectural images and photographs of religious objects, ###The Beauty of Holiness# depends on exhaustive fieldwork to track changes in historical architecture. Nelson imaginatively reconstructs the history of the Church of England in colonial South Carolina and its role in public life, from its early years of ambivalent standing within the colony through the second wave of Anglicanism beginning in the early 1750s.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

"Long may it remain, a monument to the refinement and piety of an age and a generation that have long passed ...

PART I: Constructing Material Religion

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pp. 11-25

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1. The City Churches

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pp. 13-56

In June 1753 the Gentleman’s Magazine published an engraving of the west prospect of “St. Philip’s Church in Charles Town, South ...

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2. The Diversity of Countries, Times, and Men’s Manners

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pp. 57-111

Sheltered in long stretches by a canopy of live oak trees and Spanish moss, U.S. Highway 61 follows an ancient path northwest from Charleston toward the rice plantations that once lined the Ashley River. About twelve miles out ...

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3. Builders and Building Culture

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pp. 113-138

Positioned above the chancel window of St. Stephen’s Parish Church is a curious signature, two perpendicular bricks inscribed with fine lime mortar (FIG. 3.1). The horizontal brick ...

PART II: Belief and Ritual in Material Religion

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pp. 139-153

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4. Sensing the Sacred

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pp. 141-174

Not long after the death of her nineteen-year-old son Benjamin on January 17, 1718, Sarah Seabrook sent for a stone to mark his grave near their church in the South Carolina plantation parish of St. ...

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5. The Sacramental Body

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pp. 175-215

A diminutive but graceful white marble baptismal basin once stood in the small chapel now called Pompion Hill ...

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6. The Beauty of Holiness

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pp. 217-249

A large venetian window illumines the shallow semicircular and arched chancel of Charleston’s St. Michael’s Church (1752–61) (FIG. 6.1). While the decorative stenciling, Tiffany window, and other ornamental work dates ...

PART III: Material Religion and Social Practice

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pp. 251-265

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7. Carolina in Ye West Indies

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pp. 253-278

Not far from the strip malls of South Carolina Highway 52 stands an ancient church still protected from suburban sprawl by a sheltering wood (FIG. 7.1). An architectural frontispiece of pilasters, entablature, and pediment surrounds ...

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8. Anglican Architecture and Civic Order

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pp. 279-308

Against a field of deep black, the gilt and oversized Roman numerals of the steeple clock of St. Michael’s blaze forth in the bright light of the Carolina sun (FIG. 8.1). Easily visible from the street below, the numbers ring the ...

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9. Pulpits, Pews, and Power

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pp. 309-329

In the summer of 1744, the vestry of St. John’s, Colleton, included in the pages of their minutes a plan of their newly completed church (FIGS. 9.1 and 9.2). The nave of the church was organized around three aisles, two extending from ...

PART IV: Revolutionary Changes to Material Religion

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pp. 331-345

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10. Building the “Holy City”

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pp. 333-364

A few weeks before Easter in 1789, the vestry of St. John’s, Colleton County, convened at their parish church (FIG. 10.1). Upon inspection, they found the church “in a most deplorable situation, indeed not a door, window ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 365-368

The Beauty of Holiness reads the architecture and decorative arts of Anglicanism in colonial South Carolina as a material record of the complexities of eighteenth-century religious practice and belief. Between the fervency of ...

Appendixes

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pp. 369-386

Notes

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pp. 387-445

Bibliography

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pp. 447-473

Index

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pp. 475-483


E-ISBN-13: 9781469605685
E-ISBN-10: 1469605686
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807832332
Print-ISBN-10: 0807832332

Page Count: 496
Illustrations: 255 illus., 6 tables
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Richard Hampton Jenerette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts