Sunday, 30 December 2012

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley

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The Very Revd Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster

Back in November when I profiled Bishop Stanley of Norwich and his family, I promised to blog separately on his son, Dean Stanley.  Here were go...

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was born on 13 December 1815 at Alderley rectory in Cheshire where his father Edward was then rector (he later became Bishop of Norwich). His mother was Catherine Leycester, daughter of another clergyman. Arthur was educated at Rugby School, where he came under the influence of the headmaster Thomas Arnold, and is supposed to have influenced the character George Arthur in Tom Brown's Schooldays.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), circa 1852-1860 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Stanley photographed in the 1850s by
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)
He went up to Balliol College in 1834, where he was a contemporary of Benjamin Jowett, and in 1839 was elected a Fellow of University College.  He was ordained the same year.  He was an opponent of the Tractarians, then at the height of their powers in Oxford, and took a position in support of the liberal RD Hampden in the controversy that followed his appointment as Regius Professor of Divinity and, later, Bishop of Hereford.  However, he argued in Convocation against the condemnation of Tract XC, and was seen a the leader of the Broad Church movement following Arnold's death in  1842.  He published a best-selling biography of Arnold in  1844.

He was appointed secretary of the Royal Commission on University Reform in 1850, where he came to the attention of the Prince Consort, and a Canon of Canterbury Cathedral in 1851.  In 1852 Stanley travelled to Egypt and Palestine, and produced a popular account of his observations, Sinai and Palestine in Connection with Their History.  In 1862 he was chosen to accompany the Prince of Wales on his tour of the Holy Land.  He remained interested in the historical and archaeological study of the area, and in 1865 was one of the founders of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

In 1856 he was appointed Regius Professor of Ecclesiatical History at Oxford, which came with a canonry of Christ Church.  In this role he continued to further his erastian views - that the State had every right, and the duty, to legislate on matters of Church doctrine and discipline.
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Lady Augusta Stanley

On 22 December 1863 in Westminster Abbey he married Lady Augusta Bruce, daughter of the 7th Earl of Elgin (the one who sold the Parthanon Marbles to the British Government) and sister of the Viceroy of Egypt.  As a woman of the bedchamber to Queen Victoria, she was an intimate of the queen, and Stanley's position was further established.

Stanley's name was put forward for the vacant Archbishopric of Dublin, but his views were not acceptable to a conservative church on the brink of disestablishment, so RC Trench, Dean of Westminister was appointed instead. Stanley took Trench's places, and in January 1864 was installed at Westminster.  Here, at the centre of the establishment, Stanley's influence on public life reached a peak.  He tried to make the Abbey a national shrine for all, irrespective of creed. In doing so, he caused some controversy, such as when he invited all the scholars who had produced the Revisised Version of the Bible, including a Unitarian, to receive Communion in the Abbey

Lady Augusta died in 1876 after an illness lasting several years. Stanley died at Westminster on 18 July 1881 and was buried with his wife. They had no children.

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Dean Stanley's tomb in Westminster Abbey

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