Readers of Trollope must wonder whether the clergymen who inhabit his cathedral closes and rural parsonages are true to life. The answer is yes. The Passing of Barchester provides an answer by a vivid account of the careers of a Victorian Dean of Canterbury and of the eight close relations he appointed to benefices.
Clive Dewey breathes life into the Dean, a redoubtable high churchman, and his relatives, as they worked their parishes, married eligible brides, made miniature grand tours on the Continent and congregated around Canterbury, the focus of their social life.
The Passing of Barchester brings out the attractions of a career in the Church, at a time when this could still provide an ample income and the leisure to pursue scholarly and other interests. Beautifully written, this book is not only highly entertaining but also a real contribution to the understanding of nineteenth-century society, illustrating the central place of patronage in Victorian England.
Photographs, engravings and paintings of all but one of this group of clergy survive and are included in the book, together with illustrations of their world.
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