Monument to the Ipswich Martyrs
These photographs were taken on Sunday 6 July 2013 at the famous,
'Ipswich Music In The Park' event during a heatwave.
On three sides of the collar of the column:
'THE NOBLE ARMY … OF MARTYRS … PRAISE THEE'
Around the base:
'OH MAY THY SOLDIERS FAITHFUL, TRUE
AND BOLD …
FIGHT AS THE SAINTS WHO NOBLY FOUGHT OF OLD …
AND WIN WITH THEM THE VICTORS CROWN OF GOLD …
On the four faces of the monument:
IS ERECTED TO THE MEMORY
NINE IPSWICH MARTYRS
WHO FOR THEIR CONSTANCY TO
THE PROTESTANT FAITH
DEATH BY BURNING'
'WILLIAM PIKES 1558
ALEXANDER GOUGH 1558
ALICE DRIVER 1558
AGNES POTTEN 1556
JOAN TRUNCHFIELD 1556
JOHN TUDSON 1556
N. PEKE 1538
ROBERT SAMUEL 1555'
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Note the lack of Christian name
of the martyr called 'Kerby' who died in 1546. He was a man condemned
by the Justices and executed by burning at the stake in Ipswich for his
Protestant beliefs. He is numbered among the Ipswich Martyrs and died
for denying the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation of the
Host. This was the first recorded execution by burning in Ipswich for
such a cause, but was followed by several others over the ensuing
twelve years, so that by the death of Queen Mary in 1558 there are said
to have been seventy-seven persons in Ipswich under condemnation, who
were afterwards released. Ipswich had witnessed the arrest of the
preacher Thomas Bilney in May 1527, who had appeared more than once
before Ipswich's Cardinal Thomas Wolsey,
been tried for heresy and burned in Norwich in 1531.
The account of the execution is chilling. A large crowd of many
hundreds gathered on the Saturday to witness the event, which was held
at the Cornhill, then called the Market
Place, outside the Town Hall. Adjacent was the meat market building
called the Shambles, a large timbered structure with an arcade around
the ground floor, and with a balcony above from which public spectacles
could be viewed. A large company, including most of the neighbouring
justices, were assembled there, and the stake, broom and brushwood
faggots had been set up in the centre of the Cornhill. Kerby was
fastened to the stake with irons. From the balcony of the Shambles Dr
Rugham, formerly a monk of Bury St Edmunds, delivered a sermon, taking
his text from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John. For there it is
written, that in the Synagogue in Capernaum Christ said:
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of
this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is
my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (vs. 51)
"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye
have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath
eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is
meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.' (vs. 53-55)
As Dr Rugham delivered his sermon, Kerby interrupted with statements to
the people telling them here to 'believe him', or there 'it is not
The priest then called upon Kerby to declare again his belief
concerning the sacrament of the mass, and Kerby replied again as
before. The under-Sheriff then asked him if he had anything more to
say. "Yea, sir, if you will give me leave," replied Kerby. "Say on."
Then Kerby, taking his cap from his head, put it under his arm as
though it should have done him service again; but, remembering himself,
he cast it from him, and lifting up his arms he said the hymn Te Deum
with other prayers in the English tongue. At this Lord Wentworth, who
stood in the gallery, was seen to turn aside behind one of the posts of
the gallery, and weep, and many of the beholders wept also. The flames
were kindled and with a loud cry to God, Kerby beat upon his breast 'so
long as his remembrance would serve'. As he died a great shout of
admiration for his constancy went up from the crowd of witnesses.
This Protestant Martyrs Memorial stands fairly close to the Reg
Driver Centre (home to a blue plaque)
in Christchurch Park and was erected
in 1903 to commemorate the nine Ipswich martyrs who were burnt at the
stake for their Protestant beliefs, under the reign of Mary I. The
memorial was funded by private subscription which was opened in
November 1902, after attention had been drawn to the story of the
martyrs in a series of newspaper articles in the East Anglian Daily Times between
1898 and 1900. The lettering is of interest in that the flat stone
surface has been excavated around each character, leaving the letters
and numerals standing in a darker rectangle (a sort of cameo method, as
opposed to intaglio where the letters are incised into the surface).
There is more than a touch of the art
nouveau in the letterforms, very much of the Edwardian times.
The memorial is Listed Grade II:-
"By H.G. Edwards. Stone, marble and a brick core. C20 concrete stepped
plinth surrounded by low wrought- and cast-iron railings. Stone base of
monument is of square section and has extruded corners below moulded
cornice. Inscriptions on sides of the base include on west: This
Monument/ is erected to the memory/ of/ nine Ipswich Martyrs/ who for
their constancy to/ the Protestant faith/ suffered/ death by burning.
Quatrefoil-section marble shaft with an annulated ring rises to a heavy
cornice and a polygonal finial in Gothick style, with gablets."
See also the Christchurch Park &
Christchurch Park Cenotaph
and the Christchurch timeline.
throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission