Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason

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Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to

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Lewes And Sussex Protestant Martyrs History : The Reformation : 1

Lewes Martyrs Blazing Crosses

There are seven long pages here altogether and they are best read in sequence. The information and images have been sourced from the web, books and my grey matter or my own camera. I have done my best to verify the contents, I hope that all of you that read the pages will learn something.    p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7

Henry VIII : Reformation And Marian Persecution

In the early hours of 28th January 1547, Henry VIII breathed his last. He had reigned for nearly thirty eight years. During his monarchy, events of the most momentous character had taken place, the consequences of which are still with us today.

The Pope’s supremacy had been abolished, the monasteries had been dissolved, the death of Archbishop Warham had opened the way to the appointment of Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury. Most wonderful of all, for the first time in English history the Word of God, was an open book. In 1538 a royal order was issued requiring a copy of the Bible to be placed in every parish church and raised upon a desk so that all might come and read.

Archbishop Warham : Marian Persecution During The Reformation Thomas Cranmer : Lewes Sussex Martyrs History

Strype the historian, commenting on the event, writes, “It was wonderful to see with what joy this Book of God was received, not only among the learned sort, and those who were lovers of the Reformation, but generally all England over, among all the vulgar and common people; and with what greediness, Gods word was read and what resort to places where the reading of it was.

Everybody that could, bought the book, or busily read it, or got others to read it to them if they could not themselves. And divers, elderly people learned to read on purpose. And even little boys flocked among the rest to hear portions of the Holy Scriptures read. “It was set forth with the Kings most gracious license”

(Divers = Loon, Different, Odd)

There was another and darker side of Henry VIII reign, for the measure of liberty to read God’s Word was soon largely withdrawn, and the position of those who held boldly to the reformed faith became very precarious.

The Six Articles imposed upon all Englishmen a belief (1) in transubstantiation, (2) the needlessness of communion in both kinds, (3) in clerical celibacy, (4) the obligation of vows of chastity or widowhood, (5) the necessity of private masses, (6) auricular confession.

Here we have some of the most obnoxious features of Romanism. Whoever denied transubstantiation was to be burned at the stake; dissent from any of the other Articles was to be punished by imprisonment, confiscation of goods or death, according to the degree of guilt.

The Execution Of Anne Askew : Lewes Sussex Martyrs

The act of the Six Articles, popularly known as, “The Whip with Six Strings” restored much of the teaching of the Romish Church and made death by burning at the stake, the penalty for denying transubstantiation. It was under Henry VIII that such noble characters as Anne Askew and John Fryth suffered execution and martyrdom.

Henry VIII real spiritual outlook can also be judged by the fact that he left £500 a year to be used for masses for the repose of his soul. Yet it is said that on his deathbed and speechless, in response to a request by Thomas Cranmer for a sign that he rested on Christ alone, “He pressed Thomas Crammer’s hand and expired”

Edward VI : Reformation And Marian Persecution

The coronation of his son and successor, Edward VI, took place on 28th February 1547, the Statute of the Six Articles was abolished, and persecutions under it at once ceased. Lovers of the truth, including learned and godly men returned from exile and many friends of the gospel were released from prison. The young King set a notable example in ordering the Bible to be given a proper place in the coronation procession.

The incident is thus recorded : “Three swords emblematical of his three kingdoms had been brought before him. On this Edward VI observed ‘There lacks one yet’ Of one of his nobles, inquiring what it was, he answered, ‘The Bible’ adding, ‘that book is the sword of the Spirit, and is to be preferred before these. It ought in all right to govern us, without it we are nothing and can do nothing. He that rules without it, is not to be called God’s minister, or a king”

Lewes Martyrs Burning Crosses

From that time onwards, in all coronation processions the Bible has been reverently carried, it is no wonder that under such auspices the circulation of the Bible went on apace. The English people became a Bible reading and Bible loving nation. In addition, the gospel “had free course and was glorified”, Faithful bishops and clergy like Latimer, Ridley, and Hooper preached the word “in season and out of season” in church and cathedral and in the open air.

On Whit Sunday 1549, the First Book of Common Prayer was issued, followed by a much revised version in 1552. For the first time for centuries the people were invited, and were expected, to take an intelligent part in the public services of the Church of England. The Mass became the Communion or the Supper of the Lord.

The Act ratifying the Book of Common Prayer contained an authorization for the singing of Psalms in public. The absence of singing was a marked characteristic of medieval Papal worship. It certainly included chants and dirges and wails in a dead language (Latin) but the rule was for the people to take no part.


The First Book of Homilies was published and this was ordered to be regularly used from the pulpits in order that the people might have plain expositions of the Word of God. Particularly applicable to their age, they must have played an important part in the building up of men’s beliefs and in the establishing of men’s minds.

This was followed by the issue of the thirty nine (originally forty two) Articles of Religion, a statement of belief so true to the Bible that they command the appreciation of thousands outside the Church of England today and they are the standard to which every minister in that body must publicly pledge himself before he can officiate within its borders.

But the reader may ask : Why write this introductory to the story of the Lewes and Sussex Protestant Martyrs? Because it is all important, if we would appreciate rightly the reformation, the stand they took and understand how it was, that they showed such a familiarity with God’s Word, if we would visualize to some small degree the circumstances under which they lived and witnessed and died, we shall do it more effectively with these facts in mind.

All the Lewes and Sussex Protestant Martyrs of the Reformation, lived from the reign of Henry VIII until the reign of Mary I, in which they died. They were familiar with the conditions of life under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I (Bloody Mary) They had known the wonderful thrill of the King’s proclamation of an open Bible and many, if not most of them, would have been at the most impressionable age, either in their late teens or early twenties.

Some of them would have seen the destruction of the monasteries and would have known the terrible revelations of the conditions of life in these places, and they would, of course be familiar with the loose morals of so many of their own priests, in other words they were Roman Catholics with a personal and practical knowledge of that religion and of its effects.

To them, came the Word of life with its uplifting messages, the very “greediness” for its food of which Strype writes, is evidence of the realization of their need of its sustaining power. In its pages they found Him who is the Word, and in Henry VIII time many of them knew what persecution meant.

How fully they must have known and enjoyed the calm and freedom of Edward VI reign! How assiduously they must have applied themselves to hearing God’s Word preached and then have “searched whether these things were so” In no other way could they have gained the excellent knowledge of the Scriptures which they displayed before their accusers, if we keep these things in mind, the record which follows will live more easily in our hearts and imaginations.

Bloody Mary : Marian Persecution The Reformation

On the first day of the month of October 1553, Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) “of infamous memory” was crowned Queen of England. The abortive attempt to place Lady Jane Grey (The Nine Days’ Queen) on the throne (10th July – 19th July 1553) had resulted in disaster both to her and those who supported the claims made for her.

She was beheaded on 12th February 1554, very soon the forebodings, which had been freely expressed by those who accepted the Reformed faith as to what would happen under Mary proved, Alas, to be true. The Protestant bishops were deposed and this was followed by imprisonment of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Bishop Latimer and others being sent to the Tower of London.

Thomas Cranmer In The Tower Of London : Marian Persecution The Execution Of Thomas Cranmer : Lewes Sussex Martyrs

The Mass was restored in all the churches, and in February of 1554 the Bishop of London, Bonner, issued an order that the names of all those who did not go to their parish priest for confession, nor attend Mass the following Easter, should be sent to the Chancellor of the diocese. Later in the year a mandate was issued ordering that all Scriptures painted on walls or otherwise exhibited in the churches should be “razed, abolished, and extinguished forthwith”, a striking testimony to the fear that the Church of Rome always has had of the Word of God.

Lady Jane Grey : Reformation And Marian Persecution History Execution Of Lady Jane Grey : The Reformation The Execution Of Lady Jane Grey : Marian Persecution

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