The Journal of William Dowsing

March 2001
1 colour, 79 black and white, 49 line illustrations
640 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851158334
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

The Journal of William Dowsing

Iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War

Edited by Trevor Cooper

A full scholarly edition of Dowsing's record of his and his deputies' activities in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, 1643-4.
During the Civil War, in late 1643 and 1644, the Suffolk puritan William Dowsing visited some hundred parish churches in Cambridgeshire, and about a hundred and fifty in Suffolk, smashing stained glass and other 'superstitious' imagery, ripping up monumental brass inscriptions, destroying altar rails and steps, and pulling down crucifixes and crosses. He dealt equally vigorously with the chapels of the Cambridge colleges, still fresh from their Laudian re-ordering. This modern edition of Dowsing's journal brings together, with commentary, the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk sections of his record of what he destroyed, never previously published together. Dowsing and his character and beliefs are set in context, with coverage of Dowsing and the administration of iconoclasm; the work of Dowsing and his deputies in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk; Dowsing and Cambridge University, and the arguments at Pembroke College; evidence of destruction in the other counties of the Eastern Association; the text and history of the journal. Contributors: JOHN BLATCHLY, TREVOR COOPER, JOHN MORRILL, S. SADLER, ROBERT WALKER.


A gem, the best kind of local history: lively, informative, and keenly aware of the broader contexts. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW Important, informative and horribly enjoyable... adds to our understanding of 17th-century theological disputes, the civil war, the class system, ecclesiology, local history and the psychology of the iconoclast. ANTIQUARIES JOURNAL Will ensure that the history of East Anglia in the 1630s asnd 1640s will be accurately re-written... an important book. CHURCH TIMES [Nicholas Cranfield] A finely researched and well-documented picture of a key two-year campaign. SPAB NEWS This wholly admirable book, factual reconstruction at its best. The contributors have applied a magnifying glass to one of the most disturbing passages in English history, which Catholics can only read about with pain and revulsion. CATHOLIC HERALD [Anthony Symondon SJ] A magnificent work of scholarship, beautifully produced, and emphatically not expensive at 50. CROMWELLIANA A formidable piece of historical scholarship... a pioneering study of both 'a solid fanatic' and the role of iconoclasm in the godly reformation of the early 1640s. JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY OF ARCHIVISTS