The Scientific Indian

Bible and blood in my backyard

I often go to a small woods near our home in Amersham with my daughter. Recently, I came to know a bit of history about the place that gave me a rude awakening and bought home the evil that pervaded societies in the form of Catholic Church in the past centuries (the evil still is there, in a more muted form, but it is there nevertheless). From Special Trees at Chiltern Project:

In the 15th Century, it was the execution site of a group of Lollards – a religious branch with beliefs that were similar to current Protestant doctrine – who wished for the Bible to be translated into English, were opposed to a wealthy church, and who clashed with the Catholic church over the sacrament. At the time, this heresy was a capital offence and the group were sentenced to burn at the stake within the woods.

Whilst most of the group were given a death by fire, the ringleader is said to have met a more gruesome end, being rolled down the hill in a barrel full of tent pegs and stakes, into the river Misbourne.

These religious martyrs are now remembered on the Martyr’s memorial, near the entrance to the woods. The inscription names the executed as William Tylsworth, Thomas Barnard, James Morden, John Scrivener, Robert Rave, Thomas Holmes and Joan Norman. It also records the cruel nature of these executions – the pyres that killed William and John were lit by their own children, who were forced to cooperate.


  1. #1 Nikhil K
    November 25, 2009

    Indeed! The medieval catholic church was a inquisitor par excellence. It took an English monarch motivated by his own personal vendetta to bring down that system. Little would King Henry have imagined the butterfly effects like consequences of his small rebellion.

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