John Wycliffe (1330-1384), whose portrait is in the ‘Religion and Belief’ case at Harborough Museum, was a leading philosopher and theologian at Oxford University.
But he was also an influential religious rebel. Believing scripture to be more important than the Pope and the Church he and his followers, the Lollards, attacked many Catholic practices. From 1374 to 1384 Wycliffe was rector of St Mary’s Church, Lutterworth, where it’s believed he produced his first Bible translation.
Wycliffe famously translated the whole Bible into English, despite opposition from the Church, making it accessible to all. But he died before the translation was finished so could not be convicted of heresy. However, the Church never forgave him and in 1428 Wycliffe’s body was exhumed, his remains burnt and the ashes strewn into Lutterworth’s River Swift.