THE PROTESTANT MARTYRS OF LEWES
On 20th June 1556 Thomas Wood, described by John Foxe as a minister, and Thomas Miles were burned to death at Lewes for ‘resisting and denying the erroneous and heretical doctrines of the pretended Catholic Church of Rome’. There are so further details available, but the grounds of their condemnation prove that once again the faithfulness to God’s Word and the bold witnessing against error were the sole reasons for the death penalty.
The following is found in an old Lewes guide of 1832, published by Baxter: ‘On 20th June 1556, Thomas Wood a protestant Minister and Thomas Mills of Hellingly were burned together at the same spot (Lewes)’.
On the morning of 22nd June 1557 outside the Star Inn, Lewes preparations were made for an Auto-da-fé. In the vaults of the Star Inn, now the Town Hall of Lewes were ten prisoners, six men and four women. They were Richard Woodman and George Stevens of Warbleton, William Maynard and Thomasina Wood of Mayfield. Alexander Hosmer and Ann Ashdon of Rotherfield
Margery Morris and her son James Morris of Heathfield, Denis Burges of Buxted and Grove’s wife, possibly of Lewes.
Of these ten only Woodman and Hosmer were brought to trial. The others had been apprehended within the two or three days prior to their martyrdoms. Without any authority or writ of condemnation from the proper authorities they were hurried to Lewes and together suffered in one fire.
Probably it was hoped that such a terrible spectacle would have the effect of crushing the spread of the Reformed Faith. However, as always, efforts to burn out the Truth of God only burnt it deeper in the hearts and affections of those who had experienced its power.
Tablet of Front wall of Town Hall
Steps leading up from the vaults to the road outside
The plaque on Lewes Eastgate Baptist Chapel
An engraving of the Auto-da-fe 22 June 1557 outside the Star Inn in which ten Martyrs died in the flames.