They went to their deaths, the Lewes 17, noble, faithful and hearty, 455 years ago, safe in the knowledge their sacrifices would never be erased. When I wonder what they would have imagined would have happened centuries later, I find myself humbled still. Whatever it is you cannot bear of the thought of, whether that’s day in or that day out, or by the week, sleeping on London’s freezing streets, everyone’s got something that really upsets them. Whatever yours is, imagine withstanding torture and cruel murder, dragged out for hours in burning tar, because you insisted on reading the bible in your mother tongue. That basic principle is a cry for liberty from authority. Not was, is. The sermons they preached in those precious hours passed to the ears of entire population of Lewes, massing around. They shouted back to each martyr, encouraging their endurance, and that shout has echoed through the generations since.
The 17 martyrs of Lewes were given yet another mighty send off last night. I’ll not sully the sensibilities of the occasion with my own reportage, save to say I caught the minutes of silence with each society paying their respects, to the fallen in all our wars. Lest we forget.