~ THE MARTYR'S MEMORIAL ~
NEAR WINCHEAP STREET, CANTERBURY
Erected 1899 at a cost of £600 (publicly funded)
Postcard showing J. R. Barnabas. Presbyter, Pastor of the French Walloon & Huguenot Church
"THE MARTYR' S MEMORIAL", a postcard in my collection, mailed October 16th, 1907, to Miss Moulton, Langford Arch, Sawston, Cambridgeshire
"Here today. Hope you are all right. We miss you very much & I was told on Monday to be sure & tell you that it was an effort not to weep over your absence. We had a good time. Love from Granny."
"An adjacent field, outside the walls, was the scene of the martyrdom's in the reign of Mary, and bears the name of the Martyrs' field."
The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, Vol. I. 1872
Map detail from Austen's Hand-book to Canterbury and the Cathedral c. 1891
"In the opposite direction runs Wincheap Street, and the first turning on the left, beyond the railway bridge, leads to the Martyr's Field, where 41 Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake in the reign of Mary. On this spot a memorial in grey granite, some 25 feet in height, has been erected. It stands on a concrete foundation in which are embedded blocks of broken granite. On the front of the pedestal is the following inscription:
"IN MEMORY OF
FORTY-ONE KENTISH MARTYRS
WHO WHERE BURNT AT THE STAKE ON THIS SPOT
IN THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY,
FOR THEMSELVES THEY EARNED THE MARTYRS CROWN
BY THEIR HEROIC FIDELITY THEY HELPED TO SECURE
FOR SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS THE PRICELESS BLESSING
OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
PRECIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD IS THE DEATH OF HIS SAINTS."
On the two side faces are the names of the Martyrs, while on the fourth face is a further inscription commemorating the erection of the memorial, closing with the significant "Lest we forget." The obelisk is surmounted by the Canterbury Cross, a copy of a bronze brooch found in the city, supposed to be Roman, but of a design not met with elsewhere. In addition to the 41 Martyrs, four persons were hanged here in the time of Elizabeth for their religious beliefs."
Austen's Hand-book to Canterbury and the Cathedral c. 1891
....On the twelfth day of July, 1555, this John Bland the Parson of Adisham, John Frankish, who was also a clergyman, Nicholas Sheterden, Humphrey Middleton, and another named Crocker, were burnt in the martyrs' field at Canterbury. One named Thacker, who was condemned to suffer with them, purchased his liberty by recanting.
Reader, I have more to tell thee of Canterbury, and the godly martyrs who suffered there, but the evening hours are advancing, and we most leave our quiet colloquy in Adisham church-yard. The moon will light us on our walk back to Canterbury, with a light almost as clear and quite as pleasant as that of day......
There is little to attract the glance, or mark the spot beneath us, where John Bland and Alice Benden, and others of like faith and courage won the crown of martyrdom. The eye passes over that field of dingy grass, its few desolate looking elms of meagre foliage, and the martyr's pit with a puddle of foul water at its shallow bottom to the bright prospect beyond rich masses of clustering trees, fields of golden corn, and many a cottage home dotting the pleasant landscape, as it lies, now in shade and now in sunshine, beneath the deep blue heavans, while the shadows of the rolling clouds pass swiftly over it. Here there is a heaviness in the air, but there, in the open country, the pure breezes are blowing freshly; yet again and again the heart calls back the eye to fix its thoughtful gaze upon the neglected martyrs' field, hallowed by the sufferings of those who, while on earth were "destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom indeed the world was not worthy, but whose names are written in the Book of Life."
The Memorials of the English Martyrs, 1853
*noted as Crocker in "Memorials of the English Martyrs"
*eldest daughter of King Henry VIII, by his first wife, Catherine of Spain
1554 - 1555
July - ...two Priests and two Lay Men, were Burnt at Canterbury, and Margaret Polley at Tunbridge, who was the first Woman that suffer'd in this Reign.
Aug. - Six were Burnt at Canterbury
Sept. - George Catmer and 4 others were Burnt at Canterbury
Nov. - In the end of this Month, John Web Gentleman, George Raper* and Gregory Parke, were Burnt all at one Stake in Canterbury
Noted in "The Works of John Knox, 1856" shows "At Cantorberie, Oct 16th, John Web, gentleman. At Canterbury. Oct 31 George Roper. Gregorie Painter 1 (Gregorie Parke)."
In all, 67 were Burnt this Year, of whom 4 were Bishops, and 13 were Priests.
1556 - 1557
Jan 31, 1556 - John Lomas (of Tenterden) and 4 Women were Burnt at Canterbury in one Fire (Anges Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Sole, and Joan Catmer, wife of George Catmer)
May 2. - John Hallier a Priest was Burnt in Canterbury
A severe Inquisition of Hereticks was now set up, who seiz'd on all they suspected.
More Burnings, 6 were Burnt in one Fire at Canterbury, and 4 in other parts of Kent.
So 79 in all were burnt in this year.
Nov. 10 - Three Men and two Women were burnt at Canterbury. In all 39 this Year.
The number of Persons that suffered Martyrdome here in England, for opposing Popery, under Queen Mary's Reign, was 287, viz. 5 Bishops, 21 Divines, 18 Gentlemen, 84 Tradesmen, 110 Husbandmen, Servants and Labourers, 26 Wives, 20 Widows, 9 Virgins, 2 Boys, and 2 infants. Besides 16 that perished in Prison, and 7 that were Whipt, one to Death, 12 buried in Dunghils; and many that lay condemn'd in expectation of their execution: and some Hundreds that fled beyond the Seas. Now if to this number of 287, we add 848, the number of those that suffered in former Reigns, (viz. the Reigns of King Richard II. Henry V. Henry VI. Edward IV. Henry VIII.) the dismal Total will be no less than 1135. Not to say any thing of the Persecutions under the Roman Emperors, Saxons, and Danes. A Noble Army of Martyrs indeed!
A chronological history of England 1714
© T. Machado 2007