Roots of Reform: Contextual Interpretation of Church Fittings in Norfolk During the English Reformation
Roots of Reform provides a thorough examination of the impact of the English Reformation through a detailed analysis of medieval and early modern church fittings surviving at parish churches located throughout the county of Norfolk in England. By utilizing an archaeological approach along with the written record, a deeper and more nuanced understanding of public worship reveals the theological imperatives of the reformers and conformers. This study compiled data from both rural and urban parish churches which provides a regional approach to engaging the issues of visuality, space and identity. Church fittings were selected based on their liturgical function and propensity to feature decorative iconography. This includes baptismal fonts, screens, wall paintings, and sculptures. Through an extensive analysis of church fittings, this research is the first to suggest that the Bible-centric component to Protestant theology provided the framework which contributed to the success of the Reformation. The religious identity of England was transformed as visual continuity enabled an entire generation to continue their religious experience in a traditional context despite the moderate alteration to liturgy and comprehensive transformation of doctrine. This criterion eased the transition, as liturgical continuity and selective iconoclasm forged a new physical religious environment that retained enough elements to satiate traditionalist. Furthermore, an assessment of post-Reformation innovations reveals the use of vernacular Biblical text as a preferred mode of decoration, with an increase in the use of secular heraldry and commemoration directly on church fittings.