Sussex Martyrs Commemoration Council



Warbleton, where Richard lived, is a village south-east of Heathfield in East Sussex. He was an educated and wealthy, ironmaster and farmer, with a wife and children.

Richard Woodman first encountered trouble when Queen Mary came to the throne, and the Rector of Warbleton, The Rev. George Fairbanke, changed his beliefs from Protestant to Roman Catholic, and was nicknamed ‘Mr Facing both ways’ by Richard. The rector had Richard arrested for heresy but he was cleared and released; but later accused further, and he was re-arrested. He appeared before thirty-two examiners before his final condemnation. (Foxes martyrs gives full details of these events). Although he was a teacher, rather than a preacher, Woodman knew his Bible well and defended the Truth before them against Roman Catholic errors. He confounded his accusers with his powerful arguments from the Word of God. Pointing out all the main differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

Woodman was martyred at Lewes on the 22nd of June 1557. In Lewes itself there are three memorials to all the protestant martyrs during Mary’s reign, while at Warbleton churchyard on the South wall is a tablet which reads: “Close by on the meadow behind, stood the abode of Richard Woodman, farmer and ironmaster. Burnt at Lewes 22nd June 1557”.

Note of interest: There was recently an article in the local newspaper, The Courier, reporting on a story current in 1890, viz; that before being taken to the vault under the Star Inn at Lewes with ten others, Woodman was once held in a crypt below Church street in Uckfield. It is believed that this crypt is still there; but buried beneath the road improvements..

The Work of Sussex Martyrs Commemoration Council

Speaker: Michael Hobbis


Giving to support the work of SMCC