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Affirming Laudianism and The Parson’s Handbook – a book for our age.

Although first printed in 1899, the Parson’s Handbook is full of pastoral and liturgical advice. It is the official guide to all ritual and ceremonial performed by Affirming Laudianism. We print below extracts from the Rev’d Percy Dearmer’s seminal work:


The object of the Parson’s Handbook is to help towards remedying the lamentable confusion, lawlessness and vulgarity which are conspicuous in the church at this time.

Among those who dislike ceremonial, the lawlessness is due to a conservatism which prefers late Hanoverian traditions to the plain word of the Prayer Book – an unfortunate position, both because those traditions belong to a period of exceptional sloth and worldliness, and also because the date of the Prayer Book makes it impossible for us to read aright if we try to do so through Hanoverian spectacles.

It is not recognised that people with sensitive eyes are driven away by the excruciating faults from which very few indeed of our churches are free… A modern preacher often stands in a sweated pulpit, wearing a sweated surplice over a cassock that was not produced under fair conditions, and, holding a sweated book in one hand, with the other he points to the machine-made cross at the jerry-built altar, and appeals to the sacred principles of mutual sacrifice and love.

We are not at present a musical nation, as is proved by the fact that we maintain a great number of organ-grinders and in other ways batten on the musical refuse of other countries. .. the brave choir master [should] refuse to admit choristers who cannot sing.

In Church…

The stalls for the clergy may face north and south, or they may be ‘returned’ and all face east; they should not face west. They have great practical advantages in assisting the devotions of the clergy, in preventing the clergy staring at the people, and keeping the choir-boys under better control. The boys should not be allowed to use any books but those marked for them as they have incurable destructive tendencies.

Church bells are a matter for the specialist to settle; but it may here be pointed out that they need not be a public nuisance.

The linens for altars should be stout. Anything suggestive of effeminancy should be rigidly excluded, the more so as it always has a tendency to creep in through the efforts of a well meaning woman.

Pithy Percy

On the cope

A general vestment of splendour… this vestment survived the slovenly days of the 18th century

The Rochet

In the 18th century the sleeves developed into monstrous balloon-like appendages fastened round the waist with ribbons, and decorated with stiff ham-frills.

The surplice

The surplice remained unaltered to the present day, except that it was made to open in front in the age of the full-bottomed wig.

The Chasuble

In the decadence of the ‘Rococo’ period it went to extreme lengths, and the Chasuble, once so graceful and stately, became at last an ugly little apron shaped like a fiddle.

The stole

The ancients had to carry or wear their napkins and handkerchiefs because they had no pockets. The stole was originally nothing but a napkin

The Maniple

The Mappula was a smaller napkin, too short to be borne on the shoulder, and thus naturally carried on the left arm, just as we see waiters doing at the present day. This is our Maniple.