Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Queen Victoria anniversary

Today is the 110th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria.

The Mad Monarchist has recently had a series of pictures of monarchs lying on their deathbeds or in state - macabre perhaps, but interesting none the less. One of his photographs is of Queen Victoria taken at Osborne in 1901. I had heard of this photograph from a friend ages ago but not actually seen it before. Its particular interest is that the Queen is holding a crucifix in her folded hands.


The friend who told me of this photograph and I are of the opinion that Queen Victoria's religious opinions would make for a fruitful and interesting piece of research.

She appears to have seen herself as a good Protestant, and was concerned by the rise of ritualism within the Church of England. Yet a glance at the church furnishings she gave to St George's Windsor, the Albert memorial chapel there, the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, Prince Albert's design of the church at Whipperingham or the sheer number of religious pictures around Osborne suggest something more complex or nuanced. From her letters and diaries and the recollections of those who knew her also suggest a richer spirituality that the Queen publicly indicated.

She might be bound by her Parliamentary declaration and Coronation Oath to the legal establishment of the Church of England, and affronted at Pope Pius IX claiming the right to appoint territorial bishops within her realm, but she was much more tolerant of Catholics and Catholicism than many of her subjects, and when it came to foreign relatives - well they were family, and that was what mattered. The other year the magazine Catholic Life had a series of articles about the Queen and her attitude to Catholicism, but I only managed to see one of the three. That brought out her much more open minded attitude than is often assumed.

An interesting topic to explore I think.

No comments: