Faculty Advisor

Elizabeth Swedo

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


The break from the Catholic Church and the formation of the Anglican Church of England in 1547 resulted in a tumultuous eighty-year period of redefining church doctrine. In the 1620s, the Church of England recognized that it still lacked cohesion and sound doctrine; thus, King Charles I (r. 1625-1649) and Archbishop William Laud (1633-1641) sought to bring the diverse ideas and sects of Christianity together under one unified church. Other historians have touched upon the concept of sacred space in England during this period; I argue that debates of sacred space are embedded in these attempts at unifying the Anglican church’s theological identity. Laud, largely inspired by the theology of Dutchman Jacobus Arminius, reintroduced the notion of the “beauty of holiness” to the Church of England; however, many who were steadfast in their Protestantism feared Catholicism was coming back. Drawing upon the Church of England’s visitation articles and injunctions, sermons, and personal writings of Laud, many of the changes occurring concerned the standardization of physical space and sounds appropriate for church services. Organ music, psalm and hymn singing returned to churches – unsettling many Puritans who relied solely on preaching from the Bible. The largest controversy ensued over the placement of the communion table and the reintroduction of altars. After years of instability, the Church of England's highest authorities desired to develop a stronger, reformed theological identity specifically through the standardization of physical space and the soundscape, demonstrating the struggles of a kingdom seeking church reform yet divided by religion.

Document Type