“Papistical Practices”

One of a series of articles to mark the centenary of T.T. Carter’s death.

There were reasons why Carter’s introduction of “high church practices” were at first accepted without objection at Clewer. In the first place, the congregation was doubtless small after the past years of neglect. Secondly, the authority of the parish’s patrons – Eton College – loomed large, and especially that of Carter’s father.

Yet there were some indications that not everybody was happy, and perhaps some parishioners who, after Robert’s incumbency, were looking forward to returning to church, were put off.

In 1877 some parishioners started a campaign against him and his “papistical practices” and on the walls of the Tithe Barn somebody painted the gibe “LOOK OUT FOR HIGH MASS AT CLEWER CHURCH”.

Carter himself made a note of some of the practices which, in his own words, had “split the parish”. They were, he said, things which “went beyond what the Upper Ten of the congregation liked.”

These were:

  1. At Holy Communion he stood at the centre of the altar facing east instead of at the north end as prescribed by the Prayerbook
  2. He mingled water with the wine in the chalice
  3. He placed a cross on the altar
  4. He had processions and choral Communion

But, it is recorded, “the first movement that made a commotion was lighting the candles at an early celebration.”

It is interesting to note that these practices, considered so scandalously “papistical” in their time, have since become virtually universal practice.

Denis Shaw