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Miscarriage of Justice

  • When King Henry VIII was dissolving the monasteries, he had to send 'commissioners' around the country to make sure relics were destroyed and gold & jewels sent to the King.
  • Dr. John London was sent to Reading Abbey, the Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham & St. Anne's Chapel on Caversham Bridge in 1538. He stayed with Thomas Vachell at Coley Park. He burnt the relics and sent the golden statue of the Virgin Mary to the King.
  • After King Henry VIII reformed the Church in England, it carried on doing things the Catholic way. Some people wanted the Church to be more Protestant.
  • The Bishop of Winchester wanted things to stay the same. In 1543, he heard that William Testwood, a member of the choir at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, was doing lots of Protestant things and upsetting everyone. He sent John London and his spies to investigate.
  • London made friends with a former Mayor of Windsor called William Simonds. He liked the old Catholic ways. He told London about all the men in the town who were promoting Protestantism:
    • Henry Filmer, a churchwarden
    • Anthony Pearson, a preacher
    • Robert Bennet, another former mayor (and Simonds' friend!)
    • John Marbeck, the Chapel's organist
    • And, of course, William Testwood, the chorister
  • London locked them up and put them on trial. He picked members for the jury who he thought would do what he wanted. To make sure, Simonds went to their 'secret' discussions and threatened them. So they voted guilty.
  • Judge Vachell of Coley Park sentenced the Protestants to be burnt to death.
  • Three of them were burnt near where Windsor Riverside Station now stands. Marbeck was released because the Bishop liked his music. Bennet's execution was postponed because he was unwell!
  • Later, when the King heard what had happened, he arrested London & Simonds. They then had to ride backwards through Windsor, Reading & Newbury for crowds to jeer at.

 

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