Dimming the lights
From Fr Anthony J Symondson SJ Sir, Judith Middleton-Stewart's book Inward Purity and Outward Splendour. Death and Remembrance in the Deanery of Dunwich, Suffolk, 1370-1547 ends with the death of Catholic England. Unintentionally I misled Hal St John Broadbent (letter, June 21) by suggesting that it was the dispositions of the people that led to the "dimming of the lights" during the Henrician Reformation and its aftermath.
What I thought I was saying was that Miss Middleton-Stewart's study of late-medieval religion was based upon examining the testamentary dispositions of the people before the sanctuary lamps and votive lights were extinguished against their will by the Bishops' Book I 1537 and 1547/8 injunctions.
He is perfectly right to say that charitable legacies continued through legal and social instruments, but that is quite different from Miss Middleton-Stewart's conclusion that the old faith was removed rather than rejected and that it left little evidence of embracing the new, only silent attrition. Catholic testamentary dispositions were nullified because they could no longer be legally executed.
Of necessity charity continued in a Protestant form, divorced from Catholic practice. Both were response to biblical imperatives. I am sorry that my careless sentence created this confusion.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY SYMONDSON SJ London SW19