Religion => General Religious Topics => Topic started by: Riding With The Angels on November 17, 2008, 00:31:25

Title: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: Riding With The Angels on November 17, 2008, 00:31:25

The accession of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) in 1553 led to the burning of some 280 Protestants throughout England. The Martyrs' Memorial situated in the old churchyard above East Hill commemorates three Kentish martyrs who were burned at the stake for their faith, Christopher Wade (burned at Dartford 17 July 1555), Margaret Polley (burned at Tonbridge 18 July 1555), and Nicholas Hall (burned at Rochester).



Christopher Wade, a Dartford linen-weaver, refused to give up the Protestant faith and convert to Catholicism. It was ordered that he should be publicly burned at the stake on Dartford Brent on 17 July 1555.

An account of the burning of Christopher Wade, 17th July 1555, taken from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs -

Christopher Wade of Dartford, linen-weaver, was condemned and appointed to be burned at Dartford. One the day of his execution there was in the morning carried out of the town in a cart, a stake and many bundles of reeds to a place a quartere of a mile out of the town, called the Brimpt, into a gravel pit there, the common place for the execution of felons. There also was brought a load of broom-faggots and tall wood.  To which place resorted [came] the people of the country in great numbers and also fruiterers with horse-loads of cherries which they sold. About 10 o'clock came the sheriff with a great many other gentlemen and with them Wade and by him Margery Polley of Tunbridge, both singing a psalm. Margery as soon as she saw the multitude gathered at the place they were to burn said to him very loudly and cheerfully, "You may rejoice, Wade, to see such a company [crowd] gathered to celebrate your marriage this day."

And Wade in - a long white shirt - coming straight to the stake, he took it in his arms, embracing it and kissed it, setting his back to it and standing in a pitchbarrel. Then a smith brought a hoop of iron and made him fast to the stake under his arms.

As soon as he was settled he spoke with his hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, with a cheerful and loud voice, the last verse of Psalm 86 "Show some good token [sign] upon [to] me O Lord, so that they who hate me may see it and be ashamed". Near the stake was a little hill on the top of which was a pulpit: in to which, as Wade was praying at the stake, a friar [monk] entered. When Wade saw him he cried to the people to embrace [believe] the gospel preached in the days of King Edward and beware the beliefs of the whore of Babylon preached by the friar. The sheriff said, "Be quiet Wade and die patiently". "I am," he said, "I thank God, quiet, master sheriff and so ready to die." When the friar saw he could not get the attention of the people he withdrew without speaking and went away to the town. Then the reeds being put about him, Wade pulled them and embraced them in his arms, always making a hole against his face so that his voice might be heard. Then fire being put unto him, he cried unto God often "Lord Jesus, receive my soul" till at length, after the fire was thoroughly kindled, he was heard by no man to speak; even when he was dead and altogether roasted his hands were held up over his head together towards heaven. This sign did God show him so that his enemies might realise that God had heard his prayer and showed him a sign to make them ashamed and confused.

Title: Re: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: seafordpete on November 17, 2008, 10:49:14
Very interesting, especially the reference to the pitch barrel. A lot of arguement locally as to wether the Lewes Martyrs were in barrels or tied to stakes/crosses. Given your finding plus the reference in the "Bonfire Prayer" to burning the Pope in a tub of tar seems barrels most likely. when was Fox's book published? Pete
Title: Re: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: Riding With The Angels on November 17, 2008, 17:43:28
It appears to have been published at the time - it is still available in document form and also on line at - (
Title: Re: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: seafordpete on November 17, 2008, 18:25:38
Thanks for that, not exactly bedtime rerading is it :(
Found this too which relates to it
Title: Re: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: seafordpete on November 18, 2008, 14:19:20
Just a thought-I wonder who was resposible for the monuments? They all look much the same (if I am remembering the Canterbury one well), was there some Victorian anti-Catholic society setting them up? When the Catholic church was legalised in the UK (rather than tolerated) c1860 there was a backlash against it which would seem to be an appropriate time to set up monuments. P
Title: Re: Dartford Martyrs
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on February 16, 2018, 19:59:50
Margery Polley. A widow of Pembury, condemned for heresy against Catholicism by Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester in June 1555. She was burnt at the stake at Tonbridge in July, the first of the women Marian martyrs of Kent. As well as the Dartford Memorial she is also commemorated in the village of Pembury by a water trough.

Nicholas Hall, a bricklayer of Dartford. Condemned for heresy by Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester. Burnt at the stake at Rochester, 19th July 1555.

Photo. The water trough on Pembury Village Green dedicated to Margery Polley.