Our latest issue, 28.1, features an extended Round Table entitled ‘Sculpture and Faith at St Paul’s
Cathedral, c. 1796—1914‘. Lavishly illustrated, the collection boasts fifteen mini-essays, each
devoted to one of the cathedral’s important monuments from our period. Many of these are free
The Round Table is fuelled by the energies of multiple disciplines and approaches: art history,
theology, history, ecclesiology, biography, empire- and queer studies, to name a few. As the
introduction by Marjorie Coughlan, Jason Edwards and Greg Sullivan makes clear, the collection
brings together areas of study hitherto neglected: faith, Victorian sculpture, and especially funerary monuments.
How often, visiting one of the UK’s glorious church buildings, have you gazed at the stained glass, the vaulting architecture, the picturesque graveyard, and let your eyes slide past the monumental
sculptures within the building, many of them created in the nineteenth century and many, too,
commemorating what this collection calls the ‘Pantheon’ of Victorian worthies? What is it about
these artworks that deters us? Is it that we do not understand their artistic conventions? Or is it
something about the values they inscribe that we want to resist? Are they just too religious, or too
Victorian, to appeal to a contemporary sensibility?
Collectively, these short essays offer a masterclass in thinking about Victorian memorials: new ways of approaching their styles, materials, techniques and iconography as well as the currents of belief and religious engagement they embody. Reading them will encourage you to ask new questions of such works. Furthermore, it will make a visit to St. Paul’s an entirely new experience.
Let us know if you visit St Paul’s and look differently at these important works!