Burnt for her Beliefs (Anne Askew, 1546)

Anne Askew

July 16th – On this day in 1546, in the final year of Henry VIII’s reign, Anne Askew was burnt at the stake at West Smithfield for her allegedly heretical beliefs (see also previous posting – Blood of the Martyrs).  She had previously been tortured in the Tower of London, in an unsuccessful effort to ellicit the names of fellow heretics – the only woman on record to have suffered both fates.

The burning of Anne Askew

It is curious to note that this execution of a Protestant took place during the reign of the King who broke with Rome, thereby establishing the Church of England. But the Anglican orthodoxy of the time still held to a belief in transubstantiation, a doctrine against which Anne Askew gave sermons in London.

Anne Askew is also noted as the first Englishwoman to have demanded a divorce – in this case as an innocent party on ‘scriptural’ grounds, since she claimed her husband was not a believer.

West Smithfield is visited on our “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London” and  “Rebellious London” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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