Churches - How to Read Them

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Arts Documentary hosted by Richard Taylor, published by BBC in 2010 - English narration

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Image: Churches-How-to-Read-Them-Cover.jpg

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Author Richard Taylor examines how the imagery, symbols and architecture of English parish churches have inspired, moved and enraged people down the centuries.

[edit] Dark Beginnings

Presenter Richard Taylor explains how churches were originally simple buildings intended to protect the altar and the most important Christian rite of all, the Eucharist. He visits Britain's finest early medieval churches to untangle the mystery of why the Anglo-Saxons and Normans seem to have been unwilling to shake off their pre-Christian past and to have continued to fill their sacred buildings with mysterious pagan images. An ancient book in an Oxford library helps Richard find an answer.

[edit] Medieval Life

Richard Taylor uncovers evidence that shows how and why our parish churches came to play such a crucial role in the everyday life of the Middle Ages. He looks at how humorous wall paintings and intricate carvings were used to teach moral lessons and how carved angels in such churches as Blythburgh were used to create a heaven on earth. He finds out how rites such as baptism and the largely forgotten ritual known as the 'churching of women' offered people protection from the cradle to the grave.

[edit] Medieval Death

Richard Taylor shows how churches were designed to give medieval people a way to escape death, with their Judgement scenes, cadaver tombs and graphic depictions of the crucifixion. He explains why scenes of suffering on the cross became so prominent and why the instruments used in the persecution of Jesus were depicted on the windows, floors and walls of sites like Malvern Priory. Taylor explains how the medieval obsession with purgatory transformed churches with the building of chantry chapels.

[edit] Reformation - Chaos and Creation

With the help of art historian Sister Wendy Beckett and a stained-glass window, Richard Taylor tries to understand the intense medieval devotion to the Virgin Mary and how this fuelled the anger of the Reformation that followed. Richard 'reads' a ruined church and explains how it was not Henry VIII but his boy-king successor, Edward VI, who was responsible for the greatest changes in the Reformation. He also traces how the Book of Common Prayer and the translation of the Bible into English transformed the way that the English worshipped and the appearance of their churches.

[edit] Restoration and Reason

Church life in the 18th century is often thought to have been genteel and dull, but Richard Taylor finds that churches in this Age of Enlightenment reflect the intellectual excitement, the vigour and the potential for conflict of a turbulent time. He shows how the symbols in the everyday parish church reveal the ever-closer identification between church and state and he tries out the triple-decker pulpit at St Mary's in Whitby, and he discovers how the London churches of Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor reflect the latest scientific insights and archaeological discoveries of the age.

[edit] The Victorians and after

Richard Taylor discovers how, during the industrial revolution, medieval imagery and ritual make a surprise return to Victorian places of worship and plunge the Anglican Church into conflict. Richard retraces the controversy surrounding this Oxford Movement of Anglo-Catholics and explores their finest churches. He sees how the impact of war in the 20th century is reflected on imagery in our churches and how the First World War brought a return to another medieval practice - the commemoration of the dead.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC
  • Video Bitrate: 1500 Kbps
  • Video Resolution: 832x468
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.777:1
  • Frames Per Second: 25
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 Kbps ABR 48KHz
  • Audio Streams: 2ch
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Per Part: 29 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 337 MB
  • Subtitles: English
  • Source: DVB-S
  • Ripped by: JungleBoy

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