William Palmer

William Palmer

The Oxford Movement and a Quest for Orthodoxy

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— About the Book —

This is a fascinating account of a failed "journey to Orthodoxy" that should provide food for thought to all who may follow this path in the future and offer grounds for reflection to Orthodox believers on how to remove unnecessary stumbling blocks that can arise on the path to their Church.

This book charts the eccentric career of William Palmer, a fellow of Magdalen College and deacon of the Anglican Church. Seemingly destined for a conventional life as a classics don at Oxford, in 1840 and 1842 he travelled to Russia to seek communion with the Russian Orthodox Church. In interactions with Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret (Drozdov), the lay theologian Khomyakov, and others, he sought their affirmation that the Anglican Church was part of the ancient Catholic and Apostolic Church world-wide. Their discussions clarify the mutual misgivings and sincere theological disagreements that ultimately ended Palmer’s quest.

After some years in ecclesiastical limbo, Palmer followed the example of his Oxford friends such as John Henry Newman, and was received into the Roman Catholic Church in Rome in 1855. He lived in Rome as a Catholic layman until his death in 1879.

This is a new edition of the work previously entitled Palmer's Pilgrimage: The Life of William Palmer of Magdalen, published by Peter Lang in 2006.

— Author Biography —

Robin Wheeler was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge and called to the Bar in 1979.  He served as an officer in the 4th / 7th Royal Dragoon Guards within the British army. After finishing his service in the armed forces he studied Theology at the University of Durham, completing a doctorate on William Palmer of Magdalen College.

— Contents —



Chapter One:  Childhood, Rugby and Oxford

Chapter Two:  France and Durham   

Chapter Three: Return to Oxford      

Chapter Four:  Russia, 1840-1841

Chapter Five:   The Cursing Deacon   

Chapter Six:     The Galitsin Affair      

Chapter Seven: Return to Russia

Chapter Eight: Struggle for a Soul

Chapter Nine: Pearls before Swine   

Chapter Ten:   The Struggle Continues         

Chapter Eleven: Passing into Oblivion           

Chapter Twelve: The Correspondence with Khomiakoff      

Chapter Thirteen: In the Levant        

Chapter Fourteen: Leaving the East  

Chapter Fifteen: In Limbo      

Chapter Sixteen: Rome at Last

Chapter Seventeen: Life in Rome      

Chapter Eighteen: Death in Rome     







— Reviews —

This is an important book about a very neglected figure in the history of ecumenical relations in the nineteenth century. Palmer was a supporter of the Oxford Movement who travelled to Russia and Constantinople to gain recognition of the Church of England as part of the "Catholic Church". His quest was not succesful on his own terms though he gained the friendship of Khomiakov and Philaret of Moscow. The book tells this fascinating story well though unevenly - there is not nearly enough about his last years in Rome and much too much about his relations with Scottish Episcopal bishops. But it adds a great deal to what is contained in Palmer's own "Notes" on his Russian visits.

--Mr John.M. Harwood