Bloody Queen Mary 1553 to 1558
Bloody Queen Mary and the Sussex Martyrs
1553-1558AD
Details
Background The reign of King Henry VIII brought the rift between the Roman Catholic church and the English clergy to a head, and in 1538 he declared that the Protestant religion was the only English religion. The Monasteries the majority of whom were Roman Catholic were destroyed, and much of the Roman Catholic Church in England was outlawed.

The people took to the new religion for the next 15 years, and during this time gained many followers. At the same time the Spanish Inquisition had claimed more victims, and the reports and refugees from the barbarity helped to convert more people to the Protestant religion. To help furrther this religious change King Edward VI backed the publication of the Book of Common Prayer which was created by Archbishop Cranmer. General Queen Mary I was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. She was of the Roman Catholic faith, married to King Philip II of Spain, was a religious zealot, and on her accession to the throne repealed all the religious laws passed since Henry VIII had set up the Church of England. Now the religious laws had been changed, the vicars of the country had to change religion again or resign, of which about a quarter of them did. Many of the remainder were looked on as turncoats, however due to Mary's fervent beliefs, anyone expressing these feelings or denying the Roman Catholic faith were looked on as religious heretics , and many of these people were arrested.

It would seem that other events and old scores could be settled by accusing anyone of treason, as others were arrested because of the price they charged for their flour, or were accused of heresy . The fate of many local people was dependent on the tolerance of their Vicar or local Lord, as with most things, some were more tolerant than others.

The unlucky ones were tried at the nearest local assizes, then on being found guilty were burned at the stake in the major towns such as Lewes and Maidstone . However the villages were also involved as in 1556 on the 23rd September four Protestants were burned at the stake in Mayfield .

There were 17 victims from Sussex - "the Sussex Martyrs" They are commemorated by a monument on Cliffe Hill at Lewes. 6th June 1555 - Dirick Carver of Brighton. Thomas Harland and John Oswald, from Woodmancote . Thomas Avington and Thomas Reed, from Ardingly .

20th June 1556 - Thomas Hood from Lewes . Thomas Miles from Hellingly .

22nd June 1557 - Richard Woodman and George Stevens, from Warbleton . Alexander Hosman, William Mainard, and Thomasina Wood, from Mayfield . Margery Morris and James Morris (her son), from Heathfield . Denis Burges from Buxted . Ann Ashton of Rotherfield . Mary Groves of Lewes .
Villages Mentioned
Buxted (The first Iron Cannon in England)
Rotherfield (Source of the rivers Rother and Uck)
Mayfield (Saint Dunstan and the Devil)
Heathfield (19th Century Natural Gas)
Warbleton (The Iron Man)
Hellingly (Only remaining Ciric in Sussex)
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