Thursday, 8 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (5)

“The story of the Marian Martyrs is set forth in the famous Book of Martyrs, written at Waltham Abbey by John Foxe – a book which, we must remember, however, was a work of a bitter partisan. Perhaps the most pathetic of all these stories of the Essex martyrs is that of William Hunter of Brentwood. He was little more than a lad, a young man of nineteen years. He had been apprenticed to a citizen of London, but had been sent home to Brentwood by his master, who feared that his religious opinions would get him into trouble. But Hunter could not hide the faith that was in him. Time and again he was put in the stocks, and was brought before Bonner, who offered him his life if he would but recant. But to him falsehood to his belief was worse than death. “Lord receive my spirit,” he said, as the smoke and flames closed round him; and thus he died.

“To-day these martyrs’ memorials at Stratford, at Colchester, and Brentwood, are but as reminders of old, unhappy, far-off days of mistaken cruelty in the name of God” [Weston. p170].

Inscribed on the west side of the memorial are the words:

To the pious memory of
William Hunter
A Native of Brentwood
Who maintaining his right
To search the scriptures
And all matters of faith and practice
To follow their sole guidance,
Was condemned at the early age of nineteen,
By Bishop Bonner, in the reign of Queen Mary,
And burned at the stake
Near this spot,
He yielded up his life for the truth
Sealing it with his blood
To the praise of God
Erected by public subscription

On the east side:

William Hunter
Committed to the flames March XXVI MDLV
Christian reader, learn from his example
To value the privilege of
An Open Bible
And be careful to maintain it.
“He being dead yet speaketh.”

The obelisk also refers to its restoration in 1910 following a fire which gutted Wilson’s Department Store. The postcard pre-dates this event.


Andrews, William. Bygone Essex (T Forster, Colchester, 1892)
Weston, W.H.. School History of Essex (Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1909)

No comments: