2011 was the 500th anniversary of the death of the first Amersham Martyr and Amersham Museum put on on a community play about this in March 2011. The play told the story of 16th century Amersham. The seven Martyrs were burned at the stake during the reign of Henry VIII in 1511 and 1521 for their religious beliefs. In the left hand column is a link to the page of sixteenth century sources we used for the research into the time of the Amersham Martyrs.
Listen to what Jean Archer said in 1991
Track 2 (Jean talks about the first Martyr dying in 1506, but we now know it was 1511)
Slate plaque in Market Square, Old Amersham
Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Amersham Museum, a slate plaque was erected in Market Square to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the first Amersham martyr. It was created by Annet Stirling, a local letter-carver (click here to see more of her commissions).
The use of the same text in Latin and English reminds us that the martyrs died because they were determined to worship in English.
The Amersham Martyrs were burned at the stake in the early 1500s. They were Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English in the 1300s. Lollards denounced the wealth of the Church and did not believe that bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ at Communion. Their main demand was to read the Bible in English.
In 1511, Bishop Smith started an enquiry into religious dissent in Amersham and William Tylsworth was burned to death. Ten years later, trials under Bishop Longland ended in the burning of one woman and five more men.
Amersham Museum organises monthly walks in the summer months led by guides in costume to retrace the steps of the Amersham Martyrs.