The architecture of Keble

When I was at Oxford I encountered two ideas which startled me (alright, I am sure I encountered more than two, I was never that jaded). The first was High Anglicanism; here were these Protestants, begorrah, and adherents of the 39 Articles:

Article 19: …  As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith. … Article 22:  THE Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God. … Article 28:  … Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

And yet they artlessly claimed "but we are Catholic". At school I had had a through history of the Reformation (and yes we had read the 39 Articles)  but, as I complained later to my headmaster, "you did nothing to prepare us for High Anglicans!" "Harry," he replied, "nothing would prepare you for High Anglicans." (This post is not going finally to explain the Church of England, I am sure that would overflow allotted bandwidth, but you can try Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Chapman, if you are interested).

The second idea, possessed by almost everyone, was this visceral and unreasoning loathing of brick, specifically the college built of brick, Keble. This loathing extended even to one friend, who should have been proud of her membership of such an institution, but was embarrassed by the brick of the Great Gate (1530) of Trinity College, Cambridge.

These ideas combine in this video from Oxford Today about the architecture of Keble College. Keble, you see, was made of brick and for reasons I never understood, it was a standing joke. There is a story that a French visitor remarked "C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la gare,"* thinking perhaps of St Pancras Railway Station.

It was John Keble who, on 14th July 1833, had preached the sermon which, so far as Newman was concerned, kicked off the Oxford Movement (last paragraph). And it was thanks to the Oxford Movement that all these Anglicans were saying (39 Articles notwithstanding) "but we are Catholic."

(Look, I know what the Anglican claims are. The current project means I have to make myself intimately acquainted with them. But you have to understand it from the point of view of a young man fresh out of Shack. The idea was not so much blasphemous as hilarious. It was as though the graduate student, Fritz Helmutkohlenberger, had announced at breakfast "but we are Englisch, ja!")

Note the quotation from the College's architect William Butterfield at 1:20, and the presenter's gloss on it. "Not the Roman Catholic Church, but a Catholic Church that they believed the Church of England to have been part of – to still be part of – but the Catholic Church which had lost something at the Reformation." Hmmm, yes.

Keble was also the location of a famous graffito "Hands off Vietnam" still clearly visible, more than twenty years after the Fall of Saigon, when I was up. It seems to have faded almost to invisibility since then.

*h/t Ceridwen.