Much of the religious mood prevalent throughout the second half of the 19th century laid increasing emphasis on ritual and ceremony. In parallel with this grew a greater appreciation of ornamentation and Victorian church art flourished.
Much of the work of Nelson Dawson and Edward Spenser, who founded the Artificer's Guild in 1901, was commissioned for religious purposes.
Spencer's personal preference for rich embellishment not only in silver but also exotic materials such as shagreen, ivory and abelone was particularly suited to these ends.
Cf: Victorian Church Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1971, Exh. Cat. O33/34, p. 159