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Harborough Museum

John Wycliffe’s portrait

John Wycliffe’s portrait

Harborough’s link to religious rebellion and the gunpowder plot in Northamptonshire. Our thanks to volunteer Susan Hammond, for writing this month’s entry.

John Wycliffe: religious rebel and Bible translator

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.

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.

A portrait of John Wycliffe
A portrait of John Wycliffe

St Mary’s Church, Lutterworth

From 1374 to 1384 Wycliffe was rector of St Mary’s Church, Lutterworth, where it’s believed he produced his first Bible translation.

St Mary’s is a large imposing building with many fine features and is well worth a visit. You can see several 19thC copies of the Wycliffe Bible, and look out for the striking Doom Painting over the chancel.

St Mary's church in Lutterworth
St Mary’s church in Lutterworth

Northamptonshire: a seat of religious rebellion

And if religious rebellion is your thing, Northamptonshire is a great place to explore! The county is home to several iconic buildings created by Sir Thomas Tresham (1543-1605), a practicing Catholic whose son, Francis, was implicated in the Gunpowder plot of 1605.

Why not follow the Tresham Trail and visit some of these buildings including the Triangular Lodge, Lyvden New Bield and Rothwell Market House? Look out for the religious symbolism in the architecture.

The Triangular Lodge at Rushton.
The Triangular Lodge at Rushton. Image courtesy of Keith Evans on Geograph

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