November Lecture with Dr David. M. Fowler

Our November lecture takes place at 11.30am this coming Saturday.

Dr David. M. Fowler visits us from the University of Cambridge to talk about ‘Britain’s 1968′.

For more details of our upcoming lectures you can take a look at our latest mailer, here.

Don’t forget to book your table for lunch after the lecture, by calling the steward at the Norfolk Club on 01603 626 767, and saying you are attending the Historical Association lecture.

REMINDER: AGM 11 October

Just a reminder that we are now holding our meetings late mornings at the Norfolk Club – so the AGM will be at 11 o’clock


Look forward to seeing you then.

Lecture Programme 2014/15

The following meetings will be held at 11.30am at the Norfolk Club, Upper King Street, Norwich.

Saturday 8 November 2014 at 11.30am

Britain’s 1968

Dr David M. Fowler
(University of Cambridge)

Saturday 14 February 2015at 11.30am


The Battle of the Standard. A Twelfth-Century Feat of Arms

Dr Hugh Doherty
(University of East Anglia)

Saturday 14 March 2015 at 11.30am

Football under Siege – The Wartime Game in Bosnia and Hercegovina, 1992-1996

Dr Richard Mills
(University of East Anglia)

Saturday 11 April 2015 at 11.30am

Steam Power and Herrings: A Recipe for Success?

Mr Chris Unsworth
(Historical Association)

Saturday 9 May 2015 at 11.30am

The curious incident of the dog in the daytime. Sensory nuisances on early modern streets.

Dr Emily Cockayne
(University of East Anglia)



Standard: £ 3.00
Students: £1.50
Members: FREE

For further information please contact us:

Tel: 01603 591 018

Norfolk Record Office Public Lectures


This June, the Norfolk Record Office welcomes six guest speakers from the University of East Anglia’s Schools of History and American Studies, to give the public a fascinating insight into their research.


Thursday 12 June


Becky Avila
Eilidh Hall


  1. ‘Can you speak American? The politics of language, race and national identity in contemporary America’ by Becky Avila
  2. ‘Life on the Border: Mexican American literary and cultural history’ by Eilidh Hall

 Tuesday 17 June


Sarah Hall
Sam Cross


  1. ‘”Secrett prayers” – English connections and a New World identity in the seventeeth century’ by Sarah Hall
  2. ‘Did Anglians dream of electric screens? The early days of television in East Anglia’ by Sam Cross


Monday 23 June


Thomas Goldsmith
Derwin Gregory


  1. ‘Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Bear? The rise of the Russian threat to British Foreign Policy c1780-1854′ by Thomas Goldsmith
  2. ‘Packing for Trouble: supplying the European Resistance during the Second World War’ by Derwin Gregory

Entry is free and no booking is necessary.

Time: 6-7pm

Norfolk Heritage Centre
Vernon Castle Room
2nd Floor
Millennium Library

For more information, please call 01603 222599 or email 

NEWS – Newman Lectures

For those of you who followed our short series on the Newman Lectures, the good news is that we now have a website which curates this season’s series and will act as a source of information for future series as well as providing information on Newman himself.

You can visit the website at

Newman: the background


Newman’s conversion to Rome in 1845 gave the Holy See a problem it never solved. Neither the head of the Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Wiseman, nor indeed the Vatican itself, knew what to do with him. As we have seen, his fellow convert, Manning, found him a dangerous figure, one who, he said attracted worldly Catholics. He certainly had a point when he described him as bringing the old ‘Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone’ into the Church, and Newman would not, one suspects, have objected to the charge, although he would surely have responded by reminding Manning that they had both once held to the view that the Anglican Church was part of the Catholic Church, and that there was not, except in the eyes of English converts blinded by the light of their new allegiance, any contradiction between being English and Catholic. The real conflict was between those who held to a view of the role of the Papacy which made the Pope an absolute. monarch, and those who made him the umpire in cases where questions of theology, morals and faith were unclear.

The Vatican Decrees of 1871 were controversial before and after the Council.  Many Catholics, Newman included, had considered it inopportune to make any declaration about Papal Infallibility.  Newman had aroused some controversy at the time when the contents of what was meant to be a private letter to Bishop Ullathorne were leaked the press. ‘Why’, he asked, ‘should an aggressive and insolent faction be allowed to make the heart of the just sad, whom the Lord had not made sorrowful?’ Newman had not meant the letter for publication, but when it got into the press, he refused to retract his remarks, preferring instead to resort to his characteristic device of explaining with precision whom he had not meant by the offending comments. Many had supposed him to be referring to Manning and his Ultramontane colleagues; this Newman refused to confirm – or quite deny. Newman had, he said, no problem with Papal Infallibility, holding that it the ‘Pope’s power was de jure divino’ [Letters &Diaries XXV p. 5]  To follow the lead of Pius IX. with loyalty was one thing. To commit Catholic theologians to an entirely new view (as Newman considered) ascribing infallibility to a Pope’s public utterances which were not definitions of faith or morals was quite another matter. That was at the heart of the disagreement between Manning and Newman.

For Newman, there was no urgent heresy – the usual reason for the summoning of a Council – and he was concerned about the motives of those who insisted on it. On 18 July the Council declared that the Pope, when speaking ex cathedra pronounced on matters of faith and morals , he enjoyed that protection from error with which Christ endowed his Church. Hesitant, at first, because the Council broke up before it was planned (because of the French attack), Newman came to accept the declaration, and advised others so to do. His grounds for so doing are worth examining.

In the first place, Newman did not believe that God would ‘allow 530 bishops to go wrong’. In the second place, Newman had never doubted that the Pope enjoyed a charism which protected him, as Pope, from pronouncing in error on matters of faith; the definition, as agreed, was sufficiently wide not to meet the fears of those who had anticipated that the Ultramontanes would manage to get one which covered his every pronouncement on matters political and philosophical. As he wrote to a French dissident priest, Fr Hyacinthe, on 24 November 1870:

The Church is the Mother of high and low, of the rulers as well as of the ruled. Securus judicat orbis terrarum. If she declares by her various voices that the Pope is infallible in certain matters, in those matters infallible he is. What Bishops and people say all over the earth, that is the truth, whatever complaint we may have against certain ecclesiastical proceedings. Let us not oppose ourselves to the universal voice.

As he told Mrs Froude in March 1871:

As to your friend’s question, certainly the Pope is not infallible beyond the Deposit of Faith originally given—though there is a party of Catholics who, I suppose to frighten away converts, wish to make out that he is giving forth infallible utterances every day. That the Immaculate Conception was in the depositum seems to me clear, as soon as it is understood what the doctrine is.

Newman had:

no hesitation in saying that, to all appearance, Pius IX. wished to say a great deal more (that is that the Council should say a great deal more) than it did, but a greater Power hindered it. A Pope is not inspired; he has not an inherent gift of divine knowledge. When he speaks ex cathedra, he may say little or much, but he is simply protected from saying what is untrue.

As he told another correspondent in May 1871: The dogma has been acted on by the Holy See for centuries—the only difference is that now it is actually recognised The ‘imperiousness and overbearing wilfulness’ with which the Ultramontanes had pursued their ends had been ‘a great scandal’, and he wondered whether the ‘thunder and lightning’ which had marked the declaration, and the ‘sudden destruction of the Pope’s temporal power’ were not, in factm signs of God’s disapprobation’? But if, as Catholics believed, the Spirit guided and protected the Church, then it would be seen, across the next century, whether his own view of the narrowness of the definition was correct; Newman was sure he would be shown to have been correct; as indeed has been the case.

It was therefore with some surprise and shock that he read Gladstone’s pamphlet with its accusation that ‘Rome had substitited for the proud boast of semper eadem a policy of violence and change of faith’ and had ‘furbished anew every rusty tool she was fondly believed to have disused’. Gladstone declared that ‘no one can become her convert without renouncing his moral and mental freedom’. In the absence of anyone else, Newman set himself to the task of answering the great man.

Gladstone: the background


William Ewart Gladstone was one of the dominating figures of nineteenth century politics in the UK: Prime Minister four times, he began life as the ‘rising hope of those stern unbending Tories’ who mutinied against Sir Robert Peel, became, himself, a leading Peelite, before, in middle age, become one of the founders of the Liberal Party; a man tipped to be a Conservative Prime Minister, he became the ‘Peoples’ William’ instead, and yet he remained, in his own words ‘an out and out inegalitarian’. At the centre of Gladstone’s life was his religion. Born into a Scottish family which, thanks to the entrepreneurial zeal of its patriarch, John Gladstones (the ‘s’ was later dropped) amassed considerable wealth from many sources, including plantations in the West Indies using slave labour, William was the youngest son, and the only one who fulfilled his father’s ambition. Like many who made their money during the period of the Industrial Revolution, John Gladstones wanted his family to join the ruling elite. To that end he sent his sons to Eton, and two of them to Oxford, but only William proved to have the intellectual talent to take advantage of that education. Recognised from the start as one of the most promising men of his generation at Oxford, William entered the Commons in 1833 when he was only 24. He had expressed a wish to join the Church, but his father had persuaded him otherwise; but all his life, Gladstone would take a keen interest in theology and religious matters.

He had been up at Oxford during the height of Newman’s influence there during what was called ‘the Oxford Movement’. The Movement’s aims were highly congenial to Gladstone, who, like its leaders, Newman and Keble, believed in the Church of England’s Catholic identity, and who took a keen interest in Church history, architecture and ritual. But where Newman and others would cross the Tiber to Rome in the 1840s and early 1850s, Gladstone showed no signs of the ‘Roman fever’, remaining a faithful Anglican. He had imbibed, both from his Scottish Calvinist background, and his reading of English history, a firm distrust of the Papacy, and despite his fascination with the Eternal City and the institution of the Papacy, he took a firm view that the Church of England was where Englishmen should worship.

Gladstone was a firm opponent of the temporal power of the Pope, and he welcomed the annexation of the Papal States in 1866 by the new kingdom of Italy, as he did the the seizure of Rome by the new State in the aftermath of the removal of French troops after the Franco-Prussian War. He watched, with interest and concern, the debates over Papal Infallibility, and when the new German State, under Bismarck, embarked upon its kulturkampf with the Roman Catholic Church, he sympathised. As he wrote to Lord Odo Russell, Britain’s ambassador in Berlin at the time:

Bismarck’s ideas and methods are not ours … I cannot but say that the present doctrines of the Roman Church destroy the title of her obedient members to the enjoyment of public rights.

At that point, March 1874, he did not want to speak out, but as anyone who knew Gladstone well could have predicted, the more he dwelt on the issue, the greater the head of steam which built up inside him.

In August 1874 Gladstone’s wife received a letter from Lady Ripon, the wife of a former ministerial colleague of Gladstone’s; it contained the news that her husband was about to convert to Catholicism. Gladstone was ‘stunned’ by this development. How was it, he asked Lady Ripon, that Ripon ‘can have gone through those processes of long and long-tested enquiry, which are the absolute duty of such a man as he is, before performing that tremendous operation of changing his religion, and becoming a sworn soldier in the army banded to destroy the Church that had been his home?’ He found it unintelligible that, after the Syllabus and the declaration of Infallibility, any man of intelligence and spirit could take such a step. ‘There is not a man who is more sensible than I, of the hollowness of the popular arguments against Romanism; nor is there one who is more profoundly convinced that the Romanism of today is the best ally of unbelief because it continually drives off from faith, wherever it has sway, the awakened and the searching, even if reverent, mind of man.’ Ripon’s conversion was, to Gladstone, ‘a deplorable calamity’.

That September Gladstone visited Cologne where his sister, Helen, another convert to Rome, was living.  His purpose was the usual one, a brotherly attempt to win her back for Anglicanism.  Whilst there he talked with his old friend, Dollinger, the leader of the old Catholics who had broken with Rome over Infallibility.  He also followed closely the attempts of the Bismarck Government to bring the Catholic Church under state control – the Kulturkampf.

On 19 October Gladstone wrote to his friend, the prominent lay Roman Catholic, Lord Acton that: ‘Circumstances have made it necessary for me to say a few words … with respect to the actual Church of Rome in its relations to mental freedom and civil loyalty’; the next day he began writing a pamphlet on the themeActon, who thought that Ultramontanism was ‘incompatible with Christian morality as well as with civil society’, replied that ‘no reproach can to be too severe’, because ‘Real Ultramontanism is so serious a matter, so incompatible with Christian morality as well as with civil society, that it ought not to be imputed to me who, if they knew what they are about, would heartily repudiate it.’ There were, he feared, too many Catholics ‘who know not what they adhere to, and are unconscious of the evil they are really doing, besides many who take a more or less honest refuge in inconsistency.’  Thus encouraged, Gladstone pressed ahead with his pamphlet. His ‘proper and main motive’, he explained to his old colleague, Lord Granville, was:

The conviction I have that they [Catholics] are waiting in one vast conspiracy, for an opportunity to direct European war to the reestablishment by force of the temporal power; or even to bring about a war for that very purpose … The priest party will be furious …

So it proved.



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