A speaking penny in Birmingham

Arguments about ritual have not disappeared and survive into our own times. In the twenty-first century there have been revivals of the Latin Mass among Roman Catholics, the reintroduction of incense in the Church of England, alongside Rock Masses and inclusive language. Here we see a direct descendant of the argument about vestments in the sixteenth century into the nineteenth. During the contentions caused by the Ritualistic Controversies in the 1870s and 1880s, this eighteenth-century penny, itself a relic of memory, was inscribed with the words ‘NO SURPLICE’ and thrown into the collection at Holy Trinity, Bordesley, near Digbeth in Birmingham. The priest at the time was Father Richard Enraght (1837–1898), an Irish-born follower of the Oxford Movement. Enraght advocated the wearing of chasuble and alb or surplice, the use of eucharistic candles and communion wafers, and bowing the head during the Gloria, all of which his bishop forebade. He was prosecuted in 1880. At some point, Enraght presented the penny to Charles Joseph Price, a Server in Bordesley church. In 1970, Price’s son, now an old man, gave it to to the Vicar of Sutton Coldfield. He then passed it on to the Archivist at Lambeth Palace Library, ‘as I felt that it was part of the Ecclesiastical History of our land’. BC


Further Reading

Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain, 1830-1910 (Oxford, 1999).

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